Jaguar Cartridge, Fight for Life, $75 at Electronics Boutique in the UTC mall in La Jolla, CA
Boy the after life really sucks! The food is bad, the service bites, there's no parking, and worst of all, you have to fight weenies who want to get a second chance to live! This is the premise for Fight for Life, the newest, first, and last polygon 3D fighting game for the Atari Jaguar. Your goal is this: defeat all of your human opponents, and then defeat the mysterious morphing boss man, which is about standard fare for fighting games. Fight for Life takes many of the standard polygon fighter techniques and standards and makes them its own, adding unique features and innovative concepts.
The fighter graphics were reminiscent of Tekken, with a few polygons missing, resulting in a blocky 'look'. However, it is not so blocky as to be a rock-em sock-em robots clone. For the most part, the texture mapping on the fighter polygons are really good, if you pause the game and zoom in, however there are a few fighters that are not as highly textured or detailed (Kimura again). The game's backgrounds range from 'enh' to 'hey fantastic!'. Some of the better backgrounds are Pog's background and Lun's background. The fighting field consists of a checkered pattern for the most part and is always in the shape of a square. The fighting field is BIG, at least compared to the polygon fighters I've played (TohShinDen 1/2, Soul Edge, Fighting Vipers). However, it always seems a little small since I'm nearly always backed up to the very edge of the field.
The fighters themselves move VERY smoothly with only a few special moves looking as if they need a few more frames of animation (Kimura's flip-kick being one). The roll aways and spin aways are very smoothly done. Most of the special moves are spectacular like Kimura's Tornado Kick, Pog's Slide move, Lun's Flying Kick, and Lun's Mawashigeri spin-kick move. All of the signature moves (which cannot be copied) are very good and are pretty cool to show off. :) Graphics Rating: 8.5
The special effects are about par for polygon fighting games. There's nothing special about them, not really. However, the voice sampling seems to be better than average, if a little short. Crystal clear and you don't have to strain to hear them. The music ranged from boring and repetitive to being pretty damn cool. There is a cool feature in the game which allows you to CHANGE the music, if you don't like it which gives a big boost in the sound category for me.
Sound Rating: 8.5
When I first opened this up, I thought I'd only play it for an hour and then put Attack of the Mutant Penguins in or do PC games for a while. Three hours later .. by Odin's beard I was still playing! The one thing that I did not like was that you only get one more chance if you are defeated in a fight. However, you still get to keep the special moves you stole.
Down to the nitty gritty .. the things that added to this game were the ones that kept me playing. The all-powerful A (avoid) button dodged nearly every move except for a few of the special moves (Pog's Slide). The special moves were very easy to perform and the control was spot-on. The combos I sadly could not do, but then again I haven't been able to do combos on any fighting game ever since Street Fighter 2. The difficulty gradient is good, seeing that I had to cheap the AI on my 3rd and 4th opponent instead of using real strategy, and couldn't cheap the AI at ALL on the 5th opponent. The AI seems to do a little bit of learning, as on the 2nd opponent I would do this move: Kimura's Jump Kick to-> two punch combo, and the computer would fall for it every time. On the third opponent, the computer was able to dodge the entire move nearly every time. There are other cases of the AI learning, such as providing a good defense and counter against cheap moves, performing multiple combos if you mess up, etc etc. The AI seems to be a little above average, and I couldn't see where it cheated, doing more damage where it shouldn't, moving faster than it should, having special moves it couldn't have earned, etc etc. The no AI cheating scores very big in my book.
Good as the AI is, I always prefer to have a human opponent. My neighbor came over to play and of course I totally thrashed him. Then his wife came over and I let him win :) Against a human opponent, the game becomes very deep, with varying strategies on defeating your opponent, since there is no time limit.
Playability Rating: 9
Graphics: 8.5 / Sound: 8.5 / Playability: 9
Keith C. Estanol / firstname.lastname@example.org