Saturday, 11 March 2023

Virtua Sonic #6: Knuckles Against Sonic's Face

Today, I was wanting to talk about a very divisive title that has had Sonic fans scratching their heads for ages now. A little title called Sonic the Fighters was originally released for arcades in June of 1996, essentially making it a Sonic Saturn game that never reached the system. The setup is as basic as you could get for any title, even a fighting game. You pick a fighter and you press punch a lot. Sounds like an over simplification, but I assure you, it is not. There is some story here, but it's about as paper thin as it gets. That's like saying a movie meant for 2 year olds has a villain. Yeah, he's there, but who's paying attention?

This game is notorious for being very, very bad in terms of an actual fighter. It is bad, yes. The mechanics are so loose and clumsy that before you know it, after spamming your punch button and/or hard kick, you've beaten the entire lineup. The computers are either a joke or they spam their own quick attacks so much that you can't get a hit in. That's the double edged sword you need to deal with when it comes to challenge spikes. 

It is not in the single player that people have sworn by this game, though. The single player is fine for a little distraction to keep you occupied. Though, the true way this game shines is through its 2-player mode. If you have a little sibling, a child or a friend you can comfortably chum around with a light game with, this game is worth a good laugh. It is so easy to let your younger player win, while also teaching them that you can button mash with the greats. More often than not, everyone finds their favorite characters to play.

Speaking of characters, one of the big fan favorites of this game is not based off a Sonic character, but a Fighting Vipers character. Honey the Cat was Honey the human in her debut but the devs somehow found it in their hearts to make her an anthropomorphic cat. She is cute with a great character model, but she pretty much fights just like everyone else. Still, who cares? Honey is the tops!

If you're in this for real competition, you're barking up the wrong tree. Try and make this into a tournament meant for skill or gaming experience then you are in for a very off center string of fights. There is nothing complicated about this game and there is no real winning strategy outside of what has already been discussed. A novice has just as much chance of beating a seasoned Sonic Fighter as anyone else. Still, the charm this game exudes is palpable. It has a very similar energy to Sonic R. Not only are the graphics a great deal like the Saturn, but the overall gameplay mirrors the carefree nature they encourage. 

Even though it only got an arcade release at first, it is now in all of the main 6th consoles (aside from the Dreamcast, ironically) in the form of the Sonic Gems Collection. Unless you'd like to fork over some serious dough for an arcade cabinet of the game, which may or may not exist, this is the best way to access it. If you're a Sonic fan and a fan of the 32-bit era games, this is definitely one that you could take a look at. Sonic R, Sonic CD and Sonic the Fighters are all on the Gems Collection and it has a lot more to offer than that, if you take a look at the Virtua Sonic #4 article, it goes into more detail of the rest. Give this game a chance if you ever get the opportunity. Using Knuckle's gigantic fists to send someone flying across the arena could be worth the whole experience. Break the Blue Blur's Beak!