Fighting Masters review - Sega Megadrive
After hundreds of years of intergalactic wars and such, the universe is finally at peace, with twelve major races sharing the universe in harmony. Each of these races is led by a champion of such supreme hardness that even Mr T would shake in his jewelry were he to face but one of them.
Everything is hunky-dory until the Dark Lord Vasula, leader of the underground world of Dominion makes his presence felt. In the tradition of the Fighting Masters, he challenges each one to single combat and defeats all but the last, that being you. You must now battle your way through the other eleven enslaved Masters to reach Vasula and bring order to civilisation once more.
What this boils down to is a series of one-on-one combats in a variety of planetary arenas. Each Master has a number of individual capabilities of their race, and these advantages must be tactically pitted against the weaknesses of your opponent to ensure maximum scrapping success.
What the Mean Machines staff thought
Fighting Masters is one of those games that provides a moderate amount of entertainment with single-player action but really comes into its own as a multi-player game. With two contestants battling it out it's fun, fun, fun all the way as you indulge in a veritable violence fest! Each of the twelve fighters has his or her own moves and characteristics, and experimenting to find which one suits your playing style best is fun - my favourite is Dio (from the planet Tree). In one-player mode the game is easy (except the final boss, who's rock hard), but as I've said, the two-player mode is where this is best appreciated and if you've got plenty of opportunity to indulge in multi-player action, this is a must.
Fighting Masters is a classic example of one of those games you have to "get in to". To begin with, the shambling sounds, seeming lack of moves and comparative ease of the one-player mode make the going quite dull. However, there's always the compulsion to see what the other characters can do, and this sustains interest for long enough for you to get a feel for the controls. Once you get the hand of how to perform all the special attacks and such, Fighting Masters becomes much more fun. Even better is the two-player mode, which pits you against another human in a battle of both reflexes and tactics. If you're going to be playing on your own, forget it. Even on hard level the orad to Valgasu is too easy, until you reach Valgasu himself, who is nigh on invincible. If you're usually going to have a second player around to beat up though, nab a copy now.
The exclusive release of Street Fighter II on the SNES was not a happy event in the lives of Megadrive-owners. Throughout the early years of the Sega/Nintendo feud, Sega were usually able to meet the challenge of their rival. Nintendo released Final Fight, Sega released Streets of Rage. Nintendo had Mario, Sega had Sonic. You get the idea. However, in Street Fighter II, Nintendo had a game that simply had no equal on Sega's machine. Although that didn't stop developers trying, of course. Treco had a go with Fighting Masters, but unfortunately the resulting game was woefully short of the high standard set by Capcom's classic. The selection of fighters is nice and varied, but the moves are less than spectacular. The game plods along at an awkward pace, and it's difficult to get any flowing combinations together. The characters are nicely drawn but animate poorly, and some of the backgrounds wouldn't look out of place on the Master System. I'm sure that many Megadrive owners bought this game at the time in the hope that it would fill that Street Fighter II-shaped void in their lives, and I'm equally sure that most were severally disappointed. Thankfully, Sega's 16-bitter would eventually be graced with its own version of SF2, but of course we didn't know that back then…
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