Fighting Vipers Review

By Dog of Thunder, 4 years ago
Fighting Vipers has a bit of an odd history, having been released during the time period after Virtua Fighter 2 when 3D fighters were becoming more and more common in arcades across the world. There was a quick turnaround time, with the home version of Fighting Vipers arriving on the SEGA Saturn during the same year of release in the arcades, 1995. Regarding fighting games, that may as well be the Jurassic period. Fighting Vipers, unlike its counterpart title, Sonic the Fighters which was built on the exact same fighting engine, managed to provide some innovation and gameplay mechanics that would reappear in later titles, such as Virtua Fighter 3 and even SoulCalibur IV.

Fighting Vipers

The great innovation Fighting Vipers brought to the table is clear from the moment you enter character select and see the character models for the first time. Every one is decked out like they raided a Dick's Sporting Goods in preperation for the zombie apocalypse. In the case of Picky, he even uses a skateboard as a weapon. That's one good thing about the character designs, despite the ubiquitous kneepads, shoulderpads and chest protectors, each character has an instant personality from the moment you see them. You've got Rocker Guy, Muscular Army Woman, Large Grappler, EXTREME~! Sportsdude, Athletic Girl Intended To Be The Sex Symbol, Teenage Girl In Thigh-highs and Skirt That Is The Actual Sex Symbol. As I said, instantly recognizable personalities!

Thankfully, once you get to the actual fighting, the game is actually fun in the mid-90's fighting game kind of way. Everyone has moves that are similar, yet different enough to get across their particular fighting style, though the game only uses the Virtua Fighter standard of punch, kick and block buttons. Every stage is a walled arena allowing for wall-bounce attacks and air juggles, which doesn't sound too exciting, but here's a key piece of information for you: Fighting Vipers was the first 3D fighting game to use walls.

Fighting Vipers

Not only did the use of wall-bounce attacks, wall juggles and hell, walls in general seperate Fighting Vipers from the rest of the pack back in 1995, but that armor every character is using? Well it actually has a purpose during fights as it really does protect your character. There is a green meter next to each character's lifebar which shows how damaged your armor is, which means that yes, it will break off during a fight. This leaves the character fighting in their underwear, which beyond explaining the popularity of Candy, also means they take a lot more damage. Oh, and the armor, once broken, does not come back during the fight.

I actually enjoyed my time playing through the arcade mode with each character. In true fighting game fashion, you fight each character once and then a boss character, Mahler, followed by the number two boss, B.M. I mention this because, as with its stablemate Sonic the Fighters, chances are you will never actually play arcade mode long enough to witness the explosive power of B.M. I'll get to that in a moment, but first, let's get technical.

While the armor every character is sporting works well with the gameplay, it does make the graphics instantly dated. Animations are the complete opposite of smooth, even the regular standing animations look herky-jerky thanks to the bulky character designs. It seems almost like the AMD engine powering the game can't produce the image that the game designers wanted in the first place. Everything looks rough around the edges though the concept of armor is a great one and the walled arenas are another great concept, the graphical execution is just off-base.

Fighting Vipers

Musically I don't remember a darn thing regarding the stage music or the character's voices. Is that a good thing? Or a bad thing? Is forgettable better then so bad I'd rather listen to Britney Spears' latest album or yearn for Fighter's History and Ray tossing out "baked potatoes"? I'll leave that question up to the philosophers, because we need to talk about the achievements.

Fighting Vipers has 15 achievements worth a total of 400 GS. All but 2 of them can easily be earned by anyone in about 10 minutes. Here's how easy the achievements, are in particular, the ones for arcade mode which only require you to clear stage 5. Arcade mode has 9 stages. You only need to make it to the halfway point and then that's it. Along the way, get a perfect, bust your opponent's armor and make like Chris Jericho by breaking down a wall. Take some time to access the "hidden" modes, one of which is basically a cheesecake shot of Candy, select Mahler as a playable character, and you already have 13 out of the 15 achievements.

The last two, one for busting Candy's skirt 10 times and the other for purposely breaking your own armor require some work. Only some, not a lot, but in my case, I was unable to bust my own armor. The motions required caused my left hand to cramp up and give me my first fighting game related injury since Killer Instinct and the Black Orchid 100+ combo blister. Regardless, that's a personal problem of mine and not an issue related to the game.

I'll wrap this one up by saying that while Fighting Vipers is a dated game that really does not hold up today, it is a piece of fighting game history. I doubt anyone will pick this up and really get into it as the depth just is not there, but it can be amusing to see the origins of so many modern fighting conventions, most of which are now found in the SoulCalibur franchise. While Fighting Vipers deserves some respect for what was, at the time, groundbreaking innovation, the end result today is a game even the most die-hard of fighting fans will only play for an hour or two at most.

The reviewer spent 2 hours going through the various modes and attempted to play online. He only earned 13 out of 15 achievements because he's old and was playing well past his bedtime of 9 PM.