Sunday, November 23, 2014

Five Fighting Games Way Too Awesome to Ever Exist

The brawlers we’d all love to get our grubby little mitts on … but sadly, never will. 


Ever since the genre was more or less invented by “Street Fighter II,” fighting games have remained one of the most popular subgroups in all of gaming. Even as the general industrial trend moves away from consoles and handhelds to “Smart” platforms, fighting games remain one of the last of the old breed, the type of game that can only be experienced the way the elders experienced it -- with an arcade control-stick in hand and lots and lots of profanity spouted at others.

It’s probably not too surprising that so many “dream” fighting games continue to linger on in the fantasies of genre purists the world over. I mean, what gamer in his or her right mind wouldn’t love to get his or her swollen palms around “Marvel vs. DC,” or “Street Fighter vs. Mortal Kombat,” or “Capcom vs. Nintendo?”

With that in mind, there’s a couple of outside-the-box “dream” fighters I think would be mighty damn peachy, too. Alas, copyrights the stubborn things they are, we’ll probably never see the hypothetical brawlers below on store shelves: although, holy hell, how cool would it be if  any of these ever came to the Wii U, PS4 or XB-One?

Sega Smash Bros.
Developer: Sega AM2 

Years before “Super Smash Bros.,” Sega had already toyed around with the mascot/crossover fighting game concept with the arcade-only “Sonic the Fighters” and “Fighters Megamix” on the Sega Saturn. Seeing as how Sega has already aped the Big N with a series of “All-Star” racing games, you kind of have to wonder why the company hasn’t likewise tried its hand at a true “Super Smash Bros.” style brawler.

Whereas the Big N’s bread and butter is four-player plus anarchy, I’d prefer Sega’s riposte to be a traditional one-on-one fighter … albeit, perhaps “borrowing” the “Marvel vs. Capcom” and “The King of Fighters” teams-of-three-on-teams-of-three hook.

Using a modified “Virtua Fighter 5” engine, you would have your pick of literally hundreds of iconic Sega characters, from Sonic to Ryo Hazkui to Toe Jam and Earl (whom, I imagined, would be “chained” together a’la the Ice Climbers in “Super Smash Bros. Melee.”) Imagine stacking Akira, Kid Chameleon and Ristar up against Vector Man, Tails and that kangaroo from “Streets of Rage 3,” and duking it out against the wacky backdrops of "Samba De Amigo," "Space Channel 5" or even inside an old Pico unit! Power-ups could include Chaos Emeralds, firearms from “Gunstar Heroes” and perhaps even a Dreamcast console itself, which can lend the player an assist attack in the form of a “Seaman” tsunami or something. The possibilities, quite literally, are endless, and considering the gloom and doom Sega fan boys have had to slurp upon the last few years, don’t you think we more than deserve a love-in of such caliber?

Spokescharacter Shodown
Developer: Eighting Co. 

You know, “Marvel vs. Capcom” and “Mortal Kombat vs. DC” are some really interesting ideas, but why stop there? Partially inspired by the straight-to-DVD CGI disaster “Foodfight!,” I propose unto thee “Spokescharacter Shodown,” the all-star fighting game featuring all of your favorite brand mascots battling each other to the death in super gory, excessively violent contests for supermarket supremacy.

We’ve all wondered who would win in a Satanic kung-fu battle between Mr. Clean and Smacks the Frog, and “Spokescharacter Shodown” seeks to fulfill all of our most sadistic consumerist fantasies. Just imagine it: Aunt Jemima ripping the larynx out of the Bounty paper towel lumberjack, or the Golly Green Giant uppercutting the Trix Rabbit into a pool of flesh-eating lobsters!

With frantic fighters like “Tatsunoko vs. Capcom” and “Bloody Roar” already under their belt, I reckon Eighting would be the perfect developer for a cartoony, albeit gratuitously violent, crossover brawler. And the best part? The inherent product placement would more or less pay for the game’s entire programming, release and, of course, marketing!

History Fighter
Developer: Arc System Works

Fighting games, even the good ones, tend to revolve around gimmicks. “Darkstalkers,” for example, is basically “Street Fighter” with Universal Monsters, while “Guilty Gear” is basically just “Street Fighter” with unauthorized heavy metal iconography. With that in mind, I’ve always wondered why there’s never been a fighting game wholly anchored around the concept of real-life historical figures fist fighting each other.

Now, I’m not talking that boring “Time Killers” / “Eternal Champions” generic shit, I mean REAL LIFE PEOPLE duking it out in supernatural karate matches.  With a cast that could feasibly extend into the millions, it would certainly be a long time before we ran out of downloadable characters, that’s for sure.

Imagine Abraham Lincoln launching fireballs out of his beard at Joey Stalin, or Adolf Hitler getting hurricane kicked in the face by Martin Luther King, Jr. You could commandeer Gandhi and slap around Sir Isaac Newton, or have the prophet Muhammad go mano y mano against Jonas Salk. And think about all of the historical backdrops we could include, too! The sheer irony of pitting Henry Ford up against Oskar Schindler, while Hebrew slaves build pyramids in the background, would be worth the development costs alone. And with “Guilty Gear” and “BlazBlu” developers Arc System programming this sucker, expect things to get trippy as all hell when you pit Anne Frank against Genghis Khan at the Second Battle of Bull Run.

Horror Jam
Developer: NetherRealm Studios

Now here’s a game that, believe it or not, actually DOES exist, as an unlicensed freeware offering titled “Terrordrome.” Sure, it’s a bit crude, but I don’t think anyone alive can really argue against how awesome the concept is. 1980s and 1990s slasher stars, carving one another up in a poor man’s “Mortal Kombat?” How about yeah!

Designed, naturally, by NetherRealm Studios, "Horror Jam" would use a modified "Mortal Kombat 9" engine. I mean, shit, they already have Freddy Krueger in that game's actual roster, so it's not like there is that much tweaking to be done. Well, outside of replacing that shitty 2010 Freddy with the real Robert Englund Freddy we all know and love, of course.

Obviously, the game would need to have at least 36 characters, ranging from the gimmes (Jason, Michael Myers, Chucky, Pinhead, etc.) to the slightly obscure nominees (Maniac Cop, the Leprechaun and that dude from "Dark Night of the Scarecrow," among others) to the absolute degenerate cinema necessities -- I can't tell you how long I've dreamed of watching Billy from "Silent Night Deadly Night" battle Angela from "Sleepaway Camp" to the death in a virtual arena, or witnessing Angela from "Night of the Demons" break out her French kiss of death fatality on Frank Zito from "Maniac."And the big boss in this one? Why, it could only be the most horrifying figure of the slasher film golden era -- none other than former MPAA Head Jack Valenti!

C-Fighter All-Stars
Developer: Rare Ltd.

There have been a LOT of fighting game franchises over the years, and not all of them have gone on to have “Street Fighter” and “Mortal Kombat”-like longevity. As the ultimate meta fighting game, how come someone hasn’t made a brawler featuring the heavy hitters from the fighting games that time forgot?

That’s right, it’s “C-Fighter All-Stars,” the fighting game that combines all of your favorite characters from long, long abandoned series like “Primal Rage, “ “Pit Fighter,” and “Time Killers.” Oh you know you want to see this one -- imagine Goldrock from "Fighting Masters" taking on Bullet from "Super Fighter," or even Orville from "The Rumble Fish" going mano y mano against Loader from "Rise of the Robots!"

All your favorites will be in this one. Taffy from "Clay Fighter," Limehouse Willie from "Pray for Death," Tempest from "BloodStorm," and even Kung Fu Bunny from "Brutal: Paws of Fury" will, at long last, tango with Lettuce from "Astra Super Stars," Titi from "Martial Champion," Bites Macintosh from "Battle Tryst" and, oh yes, Gulan Jaman from "Way of the Warrior." And seeing as how Rare has already made both the best "Street Fighter II' and "Mortal Kombat" ripoff of the 1990s, why not let 'em have the opportunity to crank this one out, too?

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