(Original Cart, original hardware, on a retro cathode tube TV. The way it was meant to be. Right?)
A new game released for the SNES in 2017!!! This is the first time I made a pre-order on a video game. I always wait for the bargain bin special. But I figured that something like this would only go up in price due to collectors. First impressions? I have been looking forward to this game. Now that I have it……………hmmmmm, I don’t know. In order to do a fair review, I was thinking that, I am going to need to pit it against Street Fighter Alpha Zero 2. Both are 32meg in size. And maybe better throw in Fatal Fury Special, also a 32meg. There are a few other fighters on the SNES that are the same size but I don’t think we need to go there, this will be enough to “get the idea.”
First, I love the box art and the fact that my cart is Super Famicom in shape, I didn’t expect that at all. Don’t worry, it contains the places in the cart to allow it to be used on the SNES. I like the smoked black see through plastic cart. The cart feels solid, equal to any official SNES cart. Nice to have a booklet where character moves are listed, makes a good reference. The whole package speaks quality and professionalism.
This game did not use any special chip, so that, in and of itself, lowers the bar. This game is not going to be a “Street Fighter Alpha Zero 2” on the SNES. So that places it in the category with Fatal Fury Special in expectations. So how should I judge this? Graphics, animation, gameplay, re-playability, and music. Sounds like a winner to me.
Push in, flip the power button and I am greeted with a musical loop of about, is it five or six notes? Am I being generous? This starts to grind while sitting here waiting for some sort of demo, that never comes. The screen is red with the title, what?! Come on! No artwork here? No intro? At the very least they could have had all of the characters in a pose like the box art. But come to think of it Fatal Fury Special wasn’t fancy either. But still, this is supposed to be something special because it has been such a long time since we have seen a release of a fighter on the SNES. Okay I get it, no love there…mumble.. mumble, mumble. A loss of creativity?
Each stage’s background is like a painting, no animation. There is a hint, at times, of parallax scrolling between a foreground and background, but it is subtle, spoiled by a poor use of color. Background should had been a little lighter to create depth. Maybe it should have been implemented in a different way? Or at least give me some animation. (The whole screen will not fit on my cathode tube TV, it is a little cut off on the left side. What gives, this is the SNES.) They look good, but lack any life and are flat in appearance while fighting. Characters seem small. Marking my screen, I quickly put in Fatal Fury Special, Oh my, its first stage with Andy Bogard, blows away Unholy Night, I mean the whole game, sorry. (So does the first stage of Garou Densetsu 2) The Fatal Fury characters are a lot bigger, taller and the Unholy Night fighters are about 20% smaller. Not much distinguishing difference in character height out of the six fighters of Unholy Night. I do find Unholy Night character designs appealing, but lacking in detail and part of that is due to the size. The animation is really no different than a lot of other fighters on the system, except for Street Fighter Alpha Zero 2. (Unholy Night is gum stuck to the bottom of Sakura’s shoe when it comes to that fighter.) Still, it works, you just feel like you are sitting farther away. The artwork, and story, of the game, as a whole, gives me a sort-of, a Night Warriors Castlevania slant, feel, atmosphere in a very vague way. That just came to my mind as I was playing, which is not a bad thing. And this flavor sort-of stays with you whenever playing. With only six fighters to choose from, not including your mirror image of a different color? But I have found no way, as of yet, how to access those other colors. Adding two more fighters would have placed it in the ballpark of the norm for the time period. I am not sure where to go with that. I don’t know if there is anything to unlock at this point. With good design, hidden things, unlockables, that challenge in a game, motivates me to play, sort-of like a tease. I am hoping the end boss is playable after he is defeated. Not holding my breath on that one. If there is nothing more, this game is going to be short lived in the re-play department. Some of the fighters seem a bit clunky and stiff. Some were more responsive, with noticeable frames missing in their attacks. I found only half of the fighters enjoyable to control.
I don’t think enough effort was put into making the game a good single player experience. The AI is very poor. Your opponents aren’t even aggressive until you put it in hard mode. Easy mode the only challenge was the end boss. In the normal mode it was like knocking over bowling pins until I got to the character I was using, then I felt it was actually fighting. I have not been able to defeat the end boss yet. You really feel unprepared for his difficulty having no challenging opponents leading up to the match. In Fatal Fury Special you are not going to blow through that game on easy first time you pick it up. And Unholy Night just does not have that “arcade feel” I want in a fighter. Now here is where I switch gears. Practice mode is a great single player experience. Who would have thought? Set your opponent up to attack and the AI to 8. It is a blast to play. If only you had these adjustments for the story mode, it would have changed this review tremendously. And this is where I had most of my fun apart from a two play game. The only place this game shines. It is a shame that you cannot play through the game in practice mode. Grab someone who likes fighters and are into retro gaming, two player is more fun. My first experience with two player, the game crashed after the bout was over, reset. I wonder why there was no VS CPU for a single player game? I guess story mode covered that?
In the option menu you have two choices, turn off the sound and adjust the games difficulty. No controller configuration? Just listening to the music during gameplay will answer any question as to why the options did not include music sampling. The music, I would grade it as 8-bit game tunes with many 8-bit games destroying anything this game has to offer. The capabilities of the SNES is better than this. Okay I will leave it alone. I would have liked an added feature of putting in my initials when I have achieved a highscore from the fights I have won. And the story line is a very bad translation to English with bad mis-spellings and poor sentence structure. To even complicate that more, I don’t have time to read it. Playing the game, you have the choice of , story mode, verses mode, survival, and practice. Only three attack buttons (weak, medium, & strong) with one button to build your energy bar for special attacks and same button for defense, or crouching also acts as a defense against an attack.
I know nothing about programming a game like this, let alone something for the SNES. So it is easy to sit back and give a critical analysis. And I am sure developing for a 27 year old gaming system that has long been thought dead by the gaming community, I’m sure there was no help from Nintendo, can be daunting. 32megs? I am very puzzled by that. Maybe no compression was used? Little to no options, only six fighters, poor music, missing frames of animation, small characters sprites. Not sure what they were trying to avoid by limiting this game. They built this game up, “from creators of past masterpieces,” “32 MEGS of 16-bit fighting bliss,” and “developed by a team of ex-SNK staffers who had previously worked on the Samurai Showdown and The King of Fighters series.” When you make promises like that you build the expectations and you had better be able to deliver. I see an opportunity here that falls flat in many ways. Maybe it was the failed Kickstarter campaign that crashed and burned this project? I say this because I see so much potential. I have got to keep in mind that this is only going to appeal to a niche market. When compared to other top fighting games on the SNES, this game is only average. I know there were good intentions, but I am not sure how this is going to be received by the retro community. I really want to like this game. But it is not that deep of a fighter. I am thinking that this is really for those who collect every SNES game. I personally want to support efforts like this because I want more. This game, hmmmm, it just might be an acquired taste. I did start to enjoy it more as I learned moves. With Nightmare I am able to do a 7 hit combo, and accomplished a 9 hit with Emily. I find Nightmare, Emily, and Wurzel the most enjoyable and playable fighters.
I keep asking myself, “Is this worth the price of admission?” To the one who loves SNES fighting games, “Would this be enough?” There are mixed feelings here about this game.