Sega aren’t usually known for it’s crossovers, so when Fighters Megamix was announced towards the end of the Sega Saturn’s lifespan, people were salivating at the prospect of it’s two biggest fighting games facing one another.
On one hand, the seminal Virtua Fighter series, with fairly standard characters that worked pretty well. You had Akira, the standard karate expert with some awesome chain combos and devistating attacks. You had Wolf the wrestler with throws, and Kage the Ninja with the coolest throw ever in gaming. Virtua Fighter had a steeper learning curve than Tekken, as combos were the order of the day – similar to Killer Instinct – in order to beat your opponant into submission. This was the first fighting game for a number of years not to utilise fireballs, flaming fists, and other improbable moves. No, in this game, it was a simple punch, kick and throw to get the victory. As my mum said when she saw the first game – it was brutal: who needs fireballs when a swift knee to the knackers does just as well?
Aside from the Vitrual Fighters universe of characters, you also got characters from Fighting Vipers. Fighting Vipers was Sega’s not quite as succesful beat-em-up built on the same engine as Virtua Fighter. The “Vipers” were a number of martial artists that dressed as street punks. The character design was totally different, and the arenas in the game had walls. However, I didn’t like it as much. With the exception of Candy (the schoolgirl used for most of the promotional material – usually in varying stages of undress), I don’t know – as I write these words – who else is in the game. The Fighting Vipers mode included things like armour which can be destroyed, as well as power moves and the ability to recover in mid-air from attacks.
Luckily, there are two types of modes in this game – “Fighting Vipers” or “Virtua Fighter” – and depending on what style you use you can take advantage or disadvantage of armour & mid-air attacks. Strangely, Fighting Vipers are better in Virtua Fighter Mode as their armour cannot be destroyed, and Virtua Fighters are better in Fighting Vipers Mode as they have no armour to be destroyed.
Right, after the last three paragraph makes my head hurt, what’s it like to play?
Well, I like it, it’s a gritty, tricky beat em up, that if you’re not an expert of, then you will struggle. The game works really well, and is well and truly polished to perfection on the Saturn. Single player mode involves you completing stage after stage to unlock a secret character, there are 13 courses in all, which unlock 12 secret characters in all (one course unlocks an alternative costume to Candy’s). The game’s secret characters are a nostalgic trip through Sega’s back catalog of games, with Sonic the Fighters, Virtua Fighter Kids and Siba (a character dropped from the original Virtua Fighters) making an appearance. Two interesting characters are Hornet, the car from Daytona USA, and Janet, one of the cops from Virtua Cop 2, who borrows the moveset from Aoi in Virtua Fighter 3. There were also really obscure characters – Rentahero and Deku. Unlocking these characters takes ages, so it gives plenty of depth to the game.
So, what is the multiplayer mode like? This is where this game falls down. I didn’t play it in multiplayer mode, as I didn’t find anybody willing to play it. You see, Fighters Megamix, like the Virtua Fighter games, are not the most accessible of games out there. Combos and special moves take ages to learn and to perfect, and if you are not good at the game, it can be a frustrating experience. Even in one player mode, you struggle against some of the stronger characters in the game. As I had spent time perfecting it, and my friends were too busy having sex or drinking or something, I ended up very unpopular after perfect after perfect after perfect against them.
In short, this game is a fans game. If you love the Virtua Fighter series you will enjoy this, and is a lot more available outside of Japan than the Fighting Vipers games. However, if you are not a fan of the games, then I cannot reccommend it.
If you’ve never played it before? I’d see how much you can get it for before parting with your cash.Virtua Fighter games – particularly the early ones – are dirt cheap on ebay, so my advice would be to get Virtua Fighter 1 or 2 if they are cheaper than this one.
And then, should you like it, get Fighters Megamix. Because at the end of the day, it’s still a hell of a solid beat-em-up.