Sonic the Fighters

Developer: Sega -AM2
Platform: Arcade
Also on: Gamecube, PS2
Release Date: May 1996

Back in the early 90s, just about every single franchise across the globe decided to cash-in on cheap and tacky arcade brawlers. Everything from X-Men to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles got the treatment, so Sega, in their infinite wisdom, decided to do the same with their lightning fast pin cushion mascot.

The Set-Up:
Metal Sonic has rebuilt the Death Egg and is intent on destroying the world (we can assume. It’s kind of hard to tell from the intro, but that’s usually the case in every Sonic game ever made). In order to reach him, one of eight fighters must obtain the 8 chaos emeralds in order to, somehow, change a plane into a rocket, and kick him in the nuts and bolts.

I remember one fine afternoon I was playing one of my favourite games, Devil May Cry 3. While slashing away, a friend of mine walked into the room. She stood there, watching my progress onscreen for several minutes. Eventually, she turned to me and asked “Do you not think this is a waste of time?”
I paused the game in shock.

“All you’re doing is pressing a bunch of buttons and watching stuff happen on-screen.”
I looked at the screen. Dante was in the middle of performing a stylish combo, and looking good doing it too.
“Well, yeah, but I mean, it’s no more a waste a time than watching TV? It’s just a fun story that you can take part in.”

She didn’t really get games, and she probably still doesn’t. We didn’t have an argument over it. On the contrary, we went to the cinema shortly after, and had cornettos. It was good, I had vanilla, she had strawberry. The reason I bring this up is because Sonic the Fighters is one of the few games that has made me painfully aware that all I’m doing is hitting buttons and watching stuff move on-screen.

This is one of the simplest, stripped bare examples of a beat-em up game you can possibly imagine. There is more complexity in chewing gum. At first, I thought it was challenging, as I kept getting to the third stage before getting repeatedly beaten by the same character. Idly, I checked online to see if there were any tips for the game, whereupon I stumbled upon a three word walkthrough for the game: “Just keep kickin’.”

As it happens, Sonic the Fighters actively discourages you to use any semblance of skill or tactics. If you’re a world champion in Tekken or Street Fighter, you may as well admit defeat now. But if you’re an irritating button basher, step right up to victory!

All characters are given barriers instead of a block move. These shields can be broken if hit enough times, and once they are down, your opponent is wide open to take damage. Each and every single round can be won by kicking until all barriers are gone, and then kicking until the opponent is dead. Each character has signature special moves also, but using them will almost automatically result in defeat.

The roster is decent enough, it has to be said. Five of the eight characters will be familiar from the Sonic game series. There’s Sonic himself, Tails, Knuckles, Amy and Espio the Chameleon. Espio had previously only showed up in Knuckles’ Chaotix, a bit of an oddball in the Sonic canon. The other fighters are, what appear to be, Saturday morning cartoon rejects who have sidled into the roster just for the hell of it. I mean, come on, look at this guy:

Doesn’t he look kind of familiar? I’ll give you a clue. Remember that episode of The Simpsons where Lisa becomes obsessed with a video game? It was called Dash Dingo:

And not only that, there’s another character, Bean the Dynamite? What kind of name is that? He’s a duck. Why not call him Bean the Duck?:

He struck me as familiar as well. Not only reminiscent of Howard the Duck, he also bore many similarities with this guy:

Our good friend Plucky Duck, from Tiny Toons. I could go on, but I am boring you now almost as much as the game bored me.

The graphics are adequate, although they don’t look up to the standard of 3D you’d expect back in 1996. The graphics aren’t as offensive as the general animation and character models though, which are strangely distorted and elastic.

There is also very little reason to keep coming back to it, as there is nothing to be unlocked in the game whatsoever. You can unlock Super Sonic as a character in the final stage, but this can be done on a single playthrough, and cannot be used again on other stages. Multiplayer is barely worth a mention, because, as kicking is the best strategy to win, whoever gets the first hit is almost guaranteed to win the round.

A fairly appalling brawler overall, one that has decreased in quality over the course of time. Simplistic at best, tedious at worst. The only thing it has going for it is the fact that it is incredibly short and easy, so players won’t have to suffer long if they want to say that they’ve cleared it. Though time would be better spent simply throwing rocks at each other.

Rating: 2/10

Just keep kickin'” – Walkthrough for the entire game.

Shamelessly Awful Facts:

  • This is actually the very first game to feature Sonic rendered in 3D. A woeful sign of things to come.
  • Largely unheard of until it was re-released in the Sonic Gems Collection, Sonic the Fighters had a very limited release in America and Europe, as the regional companies believed it would give Sonic a violent image. Personally, I believe they just wanted to spare the masses, and use the space in arcades for more Street Fighter and crane machines. Huzzah to you guys.

This game is kind of like:

  • Playing a video game when there’s no electricity in the house


  • Someone getting you a calculator as a gift, thinking it was a gameboy
Published in: on May 3, 2012 at 7:46 pm  Comments (1)  
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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Hahaha! i play this game competitively, you obviously don’t.Yeah, there is a big difference between CPUs and humans. do u know dodge what air teching is? it saves your behind from getting juggled. did you know that if you do what u be doing in single player, (keep on kickin), on a real opponent, they’ll shield and punish. they’ll zone you out ( like how i would) and keep u away if you dont know how to use shield and dodge and such. Btw, you can never really find real complexity in single player, and you can also buy the game for PS3 and Xbox 360 if you want to try again for COMPETITIVENESS.

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