Back in 1996, Sega was riding high. Sonic The Hedgehog had been hugely successful, the Saturn was just arriving, and the AM2 division had followed their 1980s arcade success (After Burner 2, OutRun and Space Harrier), with the launch of the Virtua Fighter franchise in 1993.
So what would make more sense than creating Sonic The Fighters?
As it turns out, quite a lot. Originally released in arcades back in 1996, it took almost a decade before a home console version arrived for the PlayStation 2 and Nintendo GameCube in 2005. And finally a HD port has been released on Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation Network at the end of 2012, which is the basis of the review.
As you’d expect, the plot is basic – win 8 rounds of fighting to get the Chaos Emeralds which will power the Lunar Fox rocket ship. It’s the only way to reach the Death Egg 2, the orbital space station of Eggman aka Dr Robotnik. The controls are the same as for Virtua Fighter – three buttons for punch, kick and block, and each fight is a best of 3 round affair.
The problem is that beyond the ability to sidestep, and the fact that blocking uses up a limited supply of ‘barriers’, it’s very much simplified. To the point that it’s possible to complete the game on normal on your first attempt, and only really using a couple of attacks. Indeed, a 4-year-old was able to complete the game on his first try, which shows the difficulty level.
Graphically it’s OK – as long as you keep in mind it’s almost 20 years old, and the audio is fairly typical. The fact that you can play as Metal Sonic, Robotnik and Honey is cool enough, but once you’ve tried each character and sampled their special move, you’ll probably be done with the game forever.
The one good aspect of Sonic The Fighters is for achievement hunters – the 400 MS Achievement Points can be completed in the space of your first play through, and the whole game will only probably take 20-30 minutes to complete.
For Sonic The Hedgehog completists, here’s the list of characters:
- Sonic The Hedgehog (Reach Rnd 2 against Metal Sonic without losing once and you play as Super Sonic)
- Miles “Tails” Prower
- Knuckles The Echnida
- Amy Rose
- Espio The Chameleon
- Fang The Sniper
- Bean The Dynamite
- Bark The Polar Bear
- Metal Sonic (2012 only)
- Doctor Egmman (2012 only)
- Honey The Cat (2012 only)
So in summary, it’s Sonic The Fighters is a nice Sonic and AM2 novelty, and might amuse younger gamers and utter Sonic obsessives for a little bit, but there’s no lasting value compared to the likes of Virtua Fighter, Fighting Vipers of Fighters Megamix (which featured Bark and Bean).
But it’s currently available on XBLA for a cheap 400 points, so if you want a very quick 400 achievement points, it’s a gift.
Score: 4/10. Purely for the nostalgia and the quick achievements. But with VF2 released for the same price, go there for a better game.