Review by IcePak

Reviewed: 07/18/02 | Updated: 07/18/02

Renown for their fighting games, AM2 mixes Virtua Fighter and Fighting Vipers into one huge game, but is it the Megamix it promises to be?

Renown for their fighting games, AM2 mixes their two biggest fighting games (Virtua Fighter and Fighting Vipers) into one huge game, but is it the Megamix that it promises to be?

One of the most dominant genre’s on the Saturn would definitely be fighting games, with more than enough competitive titles from Sega themselves, such as the Virtua Fighter series. Most of these games are conversions of arcade games, which are only supposed to entertain players for a few hours or so, bringing about the problem of good lastability for the home versions. In an attempt to try and fix this problem, AM2 created Fighters Megamix, a game combining the casts of both Fighting Vipers, and the Virtua Fighter series, plus a good amount of other fighters too.

While this is a great idea, and sounds good in theory, balancing out the various fighting styles of each game doesn’t actually work quite that well. Sure, playing characters from the same game works fine, but try playing cross-game characters, like a VF character and a FV character, and you will notice a few things wrong with the play mechanics. This is because each game, while similar in style, has differences in the play mechanics, where one character’s advantages were matched up in one way or another in other characters. However, when combined the different styles, some things can become a little too advantageous for certain characters, and even one style in particular.

The FV characters all wear some sort of armour, thus they have more endurance than the VF characters. Sure, the VF characters are more manoeuvrable, and also have some of their VF3 moves, but it still seems to be a little unbalanced, especially when you take into account the extra characters. There are two modes of fighting, one favouring FV characters, and the other VF characters, and this does seem to help balance things out if you use the right character in the right mode. However matches with most of the extra characters are still unbalanced, but realistically most of them are only in the game for amusement more than anything.

The Virtua Fighters and Fighting Vipers aren’t the only list of characters in the game. On top of the already massive selection of twenty-two fighters, there’s another ten hidden away that can be earned by completing certain game courses. Most, like the Daytona car, Bean and Bark from Sonic Fighters, and the Virtua Fighters Kidz character are really just in there for novelty, however, there are a few characters like Siba, a prototype Virtua Fighter character, and Jane from Virtua Cop 2, that are worth playing as.

One move that has been added to all characters is the ability to dodge, or move to the side if you like, using the 3D dimension. This move was taken from VF3 and it adds some more depth to the fighting engine. It’s also the first Saturn 3D fighter to use a move that takes advantage of the 3D dimension.

Another problem with the game is the computer players themselves. In the first few rounds they are of fairly average ability, but in some of the later matches they can be very cheap. Granted, a harder game makes for a better challenge and longer lastability, and when implemented so the computer is hard because they’re very strategic, then that’s good. But when the computer opponents just pull off the same killer move over and over again, or just block in the crouching position whilst waiting for you to make your move after every time they knock you down, then that’s not really strategic, that’s cheap. Perhaps the AI wasn’t properly tested or properly implemented into the game, because this can make for some frustrating matches from time to time.

Rather than having just the one set course of players to fight, AM2 have created several different courses you can fight through, each made up of six fighters and a hidden seventh character at the end. This is an interesting idea, and adds some variety to the game. One feature that would have improved on this formula, would be if players could create their own courses, with whichever seven characters they want in it. However as it stands, it still adds to the game’s lastability, and is a unique idea.

As for game modes, Fighters Megamix offers five different ones. There’s the standard One-Player mode where you work your way through the different character courses, and earning extra features on their completion. Survival Mode is where you select a time limit to compete in, and fight off as many characters as you can without dying before the timer runs out. The Versus mode is a standard two-player mode, where you duke it out with another human opponent. Team Battle mode lets you pick a team of up to five characters and face either a computer or human opponent with the same size team. Finally the Training Mode is where you come to grips with the moves of any of the available characters.

There is also plenty of extras to earn as well, such as new characters, character images, extra music, and options that add to the standard gameplay. All in all, FMM offers a great selection of extras that add to the game’s overall lastability.

Since both FV and VF2 had different type of arena’s, caged and a small ring respectively, both are presented in FMM. The difference is that the VF characters no longer have rings, but wide open areas, so there are no longer tedious ring-outs. Some characters from these games, like Wolf and Bahn, have changed the type of arena they use, and this adds more to the character’s style of fighting. Extra characters have been given one of these two types of stages too, depending on their style of fighting.

Rather than going with the tried and true Virtua Fighter 2 engine, AM2 chose to make FMM with the technically inferior Fighting Vipers engine. This means that the game runs in a lower resolution. Thankfully the engine has been modified enough so that the game looks a lot cleaner and crisper than FV, and some of the backgrounds and lighting effects are damn impressive. All the characters look a lot cleaner than they did in Fighting Vipers, but because of the resolution drop the VF2 characters don’t look as nice as they did in VF2. They still look good, but it will take a while for you to adjust to their “new” look. There is some glitching on some objects like the caged arenas, but overall it’s a great looking game.

There’s nothing really new in the audio department. The majority of the music has been taken from both VF2 and FV, with only a few new or remixed tracks for the extra characters. The sound effects are the usual sort you find in all of AM2’s Saturn games, which means all the kicks and punches sound good, but the speech samples are muffled. One small annoyance is that the music tracks have been cut down to about a minute, so that it loops frequently, and starts-over every time a round begins.

Also, since the music comes from each characters games, the atmosphere is always changing depending on who, or where you’re fighting. For example in one round you could be fighting a FV character with metal music, then in the next you could be fighting someone like Bean, who has fun, kiddy music. This actually spoils the game’s atmosphere in a lot of cases.

Overall the game is actually quite a mix. On one hand it offers and delivers plenty of characters, gameplay modes, and extras for the player, but on the other hand the fighting engine is a little unbalanced. To be honest, the unbalanced fighting engine isn’t all that bad unless you’re a die-hard fighting game fanatic that insists on every fighting game being completely balanced. Sure, it has it’s flaws, but if you can get past these it’s a great game overall, and one that’s definitely worth checking out.

Pros: Tons of characters, game modes, and extras.
Cons: Unbalanced fighting engine, sometimes cheap AI, no real one atmosphere, and not much point to some of the extra characters.

Graphics: 8
Audio: 7
Gameplay: 8
Value: 9

Overall: 8

Megamix is an aptly named title, because it’s a mix of good and bad, what with an unbalanced fighting engine, yet tons of features and characters. However, the good far outweighs the bad in this game, so if you like fighting games, and aren’t anal about the fighting engine being completely balanced, then get yourself a copy of this game.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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