Flynn vs Pontac: Perfect comparison right there. Honestly, I haven’t read any of the comics since 1999, and I know they’re still hip.

Continuing my nostalgia trip, I pulled out Sonic Gems as I reminisced about being really fucking pissed off that Knuckles Chaotix wasn’t included. What a WASTED opportunity! You know how long I’ve been waiting for a modern console port of this very game!? There aren’t any 32X emulators for Wii or PS3 (to my knowledge). Goddammit! Hell, what about SegaSonic Arcade!?

So, I only had one major reason to buy this game. 3 if you included Vectorman 1 & 2. The one and only Sonic fighting game!

NO! Not that bullshit!

Pff, ain’t no fighting game at all, it’s Power Stone if you had down syndrome.

Dats da one!

It’s the only game from Gems that I hadn’t played at the time, and was probably the only other reason people bought gems (aside from getting SCD). I call it “Sonic Championship” as the localized name isn’t syntactically retarded. Another sign that SOJ cared just a wii bit too much about nippowning their IPs.

Many of Sega’s fighters at the time were all just clones of Virtua Fighter because they got the wacky idea that the game wasn’t shit. Some people compared THE FIGHTERS to another Sega game called Fighting Vipers. I recently had the chance to play that game as well seeing as everyone compared that to Bloody Roar, a series that just kicks ass, but I honestly can’t dig that game. It feels sluggish and not very fun, which was an issue for all of Sega’s fighters that took after Virtua Fighter. Sure it had more interesting characters and faster gameplay, but it feels like everyone is covered in molasses and tar. Even more so than Tekken. Seeing that THE FIGHTERS took after Vipers, I was impressed. It actually plays better in some regard. Either that or it’s just fucking hilarious.

 

Playing all of the characters, you get the slight impression that they’re all clones of each other, just with different animations for each of their attacks. Most of their unique special moves take a Ph’D in arthritis to learn. Not because they’re difficult commands, but because the controls aren’t exactly responsive. Trying to pull off even the most basic moves results in a lot of frustration. When it actually takes a few attempts to perform Knuckles’s Dragon Punch ( which is ) during a match, you know it’s fucked. The easiest “specials” for me to perform were actually the throws. Most of which involved taking the character’s weapon and using it against them. I must say, there’s a great level of satisfaction in taking Amy’s hammer and smashing the horny bastard into the pavement with it as your character shows off a sinister grin.

Oooooooooooh, lick MY ass, will yah!?

That said, it’s a really basic fighting game on it’s own, that will have you button mashing most of the time since every character has the same basic combos. Everyone even comes equipped with a spin dash attack, as well some pro wrestling moves like running up the stage walls, leaping off, and body slamming the opponents. Granted, there are 2 characters in the game that grate my nerves.

These 2 sons of bitches are the only real unique characters of the bunch. Why? They have projectile attacks. And this is a 3D fighter with no real sidestepping or decent jumping physics. You can get around Nack’s cork bullets by ducking at least and spin dashing to counter, but Bean is a real asshole. He just throws bombs around the arena to overwhelm and overpower his opponents. Imagine fighting a spammy ass Deathstroke user in Injustice, and you have Bean the Bastard. That’s how much of an asshole he is. Bark the Bear is the lesser of the “unique” characters in that he’s big, slow, and has short legs. Obviously, he does the most damage….. in a game where the attacks already hurt enough as it is. Nack, Bean, and Bark are overpowered as shit. Just sayin.

Anywho, the game has it’s own quirks that help it stand out from the other virtua fighter clones, such as that annoying ass “losing rings” sound effect every time you take damage. Honestly, every hit you take has the “cute shit” effect of you losing rings (a nice, subtle way of making it look like the characters are bleeding all over the place ala Mortal Kombat, no less. :P) and it’ll hurt your goddamn ears after a while. Trust me. The wacky and borderline cartoony animations for the amount of ass kicked gives this game a lot of energy and flare that was lacking in early 3D fighters, and the roster itself isn’t bad for a Sonic fighting game. It almost treats itself as though it were a Loony Toons game as many of the characters moves look like they were pulled out of the minds of Tex Avery and Chuck Jones. It’s this kind of humor that makes this game……. pretty fun on it’s own. When it comes to entertainment, comedy is a good insurance policy that your audience will have smiles on their faces.

…….Which is good, because it plays like ass. I mentioned before that attacks in this game hurt like hell. A single match would probably take less than a minute……often. The amount of health a player loses in the least amount of time is absolutely crazy. Even when you’re not dealing with swollen mother fuckers like Bark, regular joes like Tails could demolish opponents easily with a few well timed flurry of punches. The either the attacks in this game deal way too much damage, or the amount of health you have isn’t very high. This leads to incredibly short matches. This combined with some SNK styled AI makes the game feel like it’s based around luck.

You’ll see what I mean.

Oh, and dig the bottom corners of the screen. The barriers, just what are they? That’s your only means of blocking in the game…… and they’re limited. This is probably the first fighting game that foolishly punishes the player for… playing defensively, and this kind of madness started ramping up in fighting games of the last generation (easier guard breaks, guard crushes, etc.). You see, you have only 5 barriers that are weak. Once they’re all gone, you’re completely defenseless. I thought I’d never see the day when a fighter would feature micromanagement of your basic blocking functions. It’s even worse when you find out that the game allows you to enter a special “EX” mode where you spend 2 barriers just to attack wildly nonstop. Oh, and if you’re blocking and the opponent grabs you? You lose that barrier as well.

My small ass frame, and they give me nothing but PAPER to defend myself with!? Do you see how BIG his fucking hands are, man!?

All this means that the game expects you to be on the offensive, which wouldn’t be an issue if the controls weren’t drunk. It almost feels like playing Brawl. The creators thinking “the game is for FUN!” and removes all semblance of strategy and skill in order to emphasize the “FUN”. The difference between this and brawl is that, yeah, it actually IS fun in spite of all these facts. In the end, that’s all that really matters. Or it should. The problem is the game has no real longevity. Because of it’s wonky mechanics, it becomes less fun over time. Almost quickly.

Especially when you take it up the ass on occasion.

Unlike most other genres, fighting games NEED decent gameplay just to be sustainable and fun, and as much as I want to be biased, Sonic Championship doesn’t cut it. Sure, it’s better than any other Sega fighter they’ve made, but it’s still just as iffy. Bottom line, Sega makes crappy fighting games, and THE FIGHTERS is another, unfortunate example.

It serves the purpose of maybe passing the time and getting a few laughs out of it, but overall couldn’t take attention away from even the worst of fighters.

 

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