Whenever a game generates a lot of hype, it exposes itself to possible attacks. These days,is subject to general ridicule, also based on the 90% ratings bought by TimeWarner at the time. Overall, it is not undeserved, as indeed it isn't a good game and it wasn't at the time of its release, either. Nevertheless, one has to ask how far today's Internet commentators have actually made up their own minds or whether they are just following the common echo chamber strategy.
Before publication, high expectations were raised based on the developers' boastful promises. TimeWarner, just having entered the computer games market, put enough money behind to transmit them into the world at full volume. “Multimedia” was the latest and greatest, andshowed freshly rendered robot models along with a soundtrack from Brian May of Queen fame. Gameplay was also supposed to put them genre on its head, with computer opponents which wouldn't just react quickly (the common advantage of computer-controlled fighters), but would also learn from the player's actions.
Save for the pre-rendered graphics straight from 3D Studio, not a lot of this was left when the game was actually released. May's music couldn't be used due to licencing issues (with the exception of a short guitar riff in the main menu). Advanced artificial intelligence certainly cannot be found watching the usual gameplay videos these days. Sure, it is so easy to mock the game for being winnable by just constantly applying a jump kick… when you omit having selected the lowest difficulty level.
Nevertheless, there are some things to say about difficulty. There is no level which is actually playable. The first one is won trivially, not unlike in better titles, but usually, it increases gradually… whilemakes a huge jump above “medium” which makes winning almost impossible. Just that it isn't due to advanced artificial intelligence.
What scales is the proportion of punching strength between the two opponents. Conceptually, the idea is that punches and kicks can have different strengths, depending on how long you press the fire button. So far, so good, as this could enable different tactics. Do you attack with quick combos or do you rather rely on few targeted and highly destructive hits? It's just that on higher difficulty levels, even maximum strength hardly makes a dent – any hits below that prove useless. It is a sad admission that the promise intelligence apparently didn't work out as planned.
At least, this should be clear by now, there are some fundamentally good ideas inside. Almost defiantly,positions itself against the special move zeitgeist launched by Street Fighter 2. You have to do with basic moves, but use them with caution and in a targeted manner. It is an enhanced model of Karate Champ which may have come some years too late, as the genre had already gone down different roads – but it shouldn't have been a cause for mockery.
This leaves graphics and animations. The latter are quite fluid, built from a nice number of frames. The 3D models are quite detailed, but from today's point of view, they obviously have this typical plastic look of the time. It hasn't aged well. Similarly typical for the time and clearly detrimental to the overall visual impression, the robot models do not organically fit into the backdrops. These static pictures are really not an asset to the game and the opponents seem to hover over the ground. This effect turns even worse when activating shadows (deactivated by default for a good reason).
However, in 1994, this all looked very cool (apart from the shadows). It's just that the game offers only seven such robot models (which, in spite of visually promising designs, hardly exhibit any gameplay-relevant difference) – and those only rendered from one side. The blue player robot only exists on its right side, all the others can only ever be seen from the left. The opponents can never switch relative positions. Jumping over them or otherwise passing them is impossible.
This restriction is likely intentional. The likely core dilemma of the game, which could explain some of its weaknesses, is that it was thrown on the market too early.should have targeted the Next Gen consoles, with a CD as storage device and more horse power under the hood. Though those were still not really available on the market. So they had to do with devices like the SNES or the Amiga.
The box contained 13 floppy disks – who knows how many it would have been if it had included the promised soundtrack, robot models rendered from two side or even additional robots? It just wasn't possible with floppy disks or cartridges. On top, a faster CPU or graphics chip could probably have solved the issues of delay between player input and rendering on the screen.
No, none of this is a good excuse for the poor core game. As far as this is concerned,gives the opposite impression: of having been released too early. Going back to the basics could have been viable in such an overloaded genre. With the right execution, it could have worked. Though one has to suspect most of the development time went into the almost impossible task of getting this tech demo to run on small machines in a somewhat acceptable way. Pity, because a stylish robot fighting game could have been a nice change from the usual orgies of spurting blood. Don't despair, this actually exists elsewhere. Even if less expensively produced, but full of original ideas and immaculately playable. Let's give its deserved rest.