One Must Fall was supposed to become a Street Fighter clone for the PC, but then the developers decided to set the game into the future instead and add 2097. This is the year the single player mode plot takes place in. And this is where the first difference compares to Street Fighter and other fighting games comes in. You don't select a fighter, but a pilot and a robot.
Although these pilots all have their little background story, or rather description, those are not particularly important. What is important is those three values which are listed next to the fighter and determine how hard the pilot can hit, how fast he can move and how many hits he can take before becoming dazed. Once you have selected a pilot, you have to select a robot, which is then coloured according to the selected pilot. Robots come in different shapes and sizes and the size is actually of some importance. If you have long legs, you can kick your opponent before he is even close enough.
On top of that, each robot has got its own special moves, which also encompass some combos. The actual special moves are listed in the manual just like in Street Fighter 2 and they actually resemble that game when it comes to execution. For example, the Nova's rocket launcher has a similar key combination as the Hadouken. Speaking about the Nova, this robot is not playable in a normal game, because it is reserved for the evil boss opponent. That guy being a trans humanist and has ill world domination plans in mind. Or at least that is what he would have said in his speech, if he hadn't died.
Apart from single player mode, there is also two player mode and demo mode. For the former, you need a friend, which also works over a modem or a network. In demo mode, the computer fights itself. So far, so boring, but then fortunately, there is also tournament mode. And that is where the game really packs.
You begin by creating your pilot, giving him a name and choosing one of four pictures. Using your startup capital, you buy yourself into a league, train your stats and improve your robot. This is when the “league” can really begin. In this league, you always compete against subsequently stronger opponents; if you beat the champion, the league is over. Just imagine: You are Salford City and buy your way into Premier League; if you beat Manchester United, the seasoin is over and Salford City is the new champion. On the other hand, the league can also go on forever, unless you lose too often.
Losing isn't all that bad basically, but the robot's repair costs can drive you bancrupt. Once the mechanic doesn't receive his money, he starts selling off robot parts instead. If nothing is left, you have to work to get money. Which means being thrown out of the league and losing stats. The mechanic, by the way, was also a great fighter once, according to himself; just why does he need to earn money now, then? Apart from the mechanic's comments, there is also some small news coverage about the fight on TV, although this repeats itself after some time.
So much about the frills, but let's talk about the actual fighting and what makes the game so great a little in the end. One Must Fall, like Street Fighter 2, a spatial fighting game where it is the player's task to minimize the opponent's capacity to act. So primarily, you are concerned with making sure that the opponent cannot move, or at least only in limited spaces. Preferably those which you can counter well. What helps is that the opponent is stunned for a moment after each hit. What doesn't help is that the opponent is invincible for an even shorter moment after each hit. And, as already mentioned, each punch or kick covers a different space. Just like your own hit zone adapts according to your action. Keeping all this in mind, what you have to do is to keep the offensive hit zone between yourself and the opponent so that he cannot manage to build his own, reaching you. Then, you won't even need a lot of special moves and you can rather concentrate on combos, which earn you more points and money in the end anyway.
Translated by Mr Creosote