Fighters History may not be a household title by any stretch of the imagination, but that’s not to say this fighter didn’t have a history. Released a year after Street Fighter II was on the Super Nintendo, Fighters History had a few similarities, to say the least, to Capcom’s famed brawler. So much so, Capcom had filed a lawsuit against Data East for copyright infringement, which Capcom eventually lost. Since Street Fighter II and Fighters History have had a somewhat storied past, they will be the subject of the latest Comparison Series.
Today’s focus will be on Fighters History.
One can argue that some people do not try to directly copy others successes, but replicate its success, by offering their own take on the subject at hand. For instance, you have the established and multi-genre talented exploits of James Rolfe, who’s most famous for creating the Angry Nintendo Nerd/Angry Video Game Nerd. Then you have Chris Bores, who created the Irate Gamer, soon after the Angry Nintendo Nerd hit the scene. Most who have seen ANN/AVGN, and then IG, notice a lot of similarities, almost to the point of blatant infringing. Although the Irate Gamer has done some obvious and blatant rip offs of what the ANN/AVGN had done (Back to the Future, TMNT, Ghostbusters are good reviews ANN did before IG), and his gimmick is basically the same, there are some notable differences between both products.
If you replace ANN with Street Fighter II, and IG with Fighters History, you’ve basically summed up the review. But lets look a bit deeper into this whole ordeal and see just why Fighters History was supposedly the Irate Gamer of Fighting games.
One of the main reasons why Capcom felt that Data East copied off its fighting game, was through its character designs. Here’s a comparison between the pre fight screen of Fighters History’s Ray vs. Feilin, and Street Fighter II’s Ken vs. Chun Li:
As you can see, the background color scheme is virtually the same, Ken and Ray have their similarities, (blond hair, facial scowl, clenched fist) as well as Feilin and Chun Li having a closely resembled facial pose, eyes and eyebrows that are not too far off from each other, and bangs do awfully look alike. Well, maybe it’s only two characters with a similar avatar design. Maybe comparing Fighters History’s Mizoguchi vs. Marstorius and Street Fighter II’s Ryu vs. Zangief will lead to different results:
Mizoguchi and Ryu have the clench fist thing going, a headband on with their hair draped over the front of it, as well as the thick eyebrows the share. Marstorius and Zangief have the full beard, that face only a mother could love, and some unusual forehead scar or bangs that lightly hang down. These similarities are not exactly subtle by and stretch of the imagination. But surely, there’s got to be some separation between these two titles that can help distinguish them from each other.
One thing that definitely separates the two titles comes in the form of the audio delivery. The music is at a much lower volume and is oftentimes barely audible. When you can hear these tunes, they are nothing particularly memorable, nor do they seem to fit well. The sound effects range from some loud and clear vocal cues, to some laughably poor vocal cues. Some death cries are comical groans that sound so out of place, you can’t help but to chuckle a bit. The attacks all sound a bit rough, lacking any clarity with each blow. The one shared aspect between the two comes in the form of Ryu and Mizoguchi. Their fireball and dragon punch vocals sounds way too familiar to each other.
Controlling each character feels like a lesser refined Street Fighter II. Jumping has that same floaty feel, with similar move commands, with ground movements feeling just a tad sluggish. One annoyance is how off the hit detection can be. I’ve won matches by pressing the hard punch a couple of steps away from what should be the maximum melee range, and the hit lands clean.
So how about the actual in game graphics? Are the the same as the pre-fight avatars? Well, lets take a look at the first comparison once again, between Fighters History’s Ray vs. Feilin and Street Fighter II’s Ken vs. Chun Li:
The in game characters are not so boldly copied as their pre-fight images were. Ray’s lack of a gi, they have different fighting stance and the only thing you can really say is the same, are the gloves, and possibly the bushy eyebrows. Feilin and Chun Li have separate fighting stances as well, Feilin doesn’t have the whole Princess Leia thing going with her hair, but the outfit tops do mirror each other, if even slightly.
Next, lets check out Fighters History’s Mizoguchi vs. Marstorius and Street Fighter II’s Ryu vs. Zangief and their in game sprites to see if there’s any likeness shared between them:
Mizoguchi and Ryu’s heads match up somewhat, not just in part to the headband, and the only other thing shared between them comes in the form of their pants. Fighters History’s Marstorius and Street Fighter II’s Zangief’s idle stance closely resemble each other a bit too much, with the faces sharing most details between each other (sans hair) and you can even see a semblance of an “X” on Mastorius’ bicep like Zangielf possesses. While these are just a few examples of how one can argue Fighters History mimics Street Fighter II, there’s definitely quite a bit of visual distinction between them.
For the most part, SFII’s character sprites have better color, and look more like humanoid figures. The color palette is also quite diversified throughout each background in the game, whereas FH seems to stick with one color, and lots of different shades to it. That’s not to say that some of the backgrounds in FH look feeble – some of them hold a great amount of detail, static or not. It just looks so dull when compared to the sharp edge of SFII’s backgrounds.
Lastly, while the movesets are changed up slightly in FH (Marstonius isn’t the super grappler like Zangief is, Mizoguchi’s “dragon punch” is a short range dashing elbow thrust and his fireball is a low traveling projectile) most move commands are close enough to SFII, so it’s not a chore to learn. You have nine fighters to choose from in FH, one more than SFII, though none of them are particularly fascinating to the point where I’d like to sit down for a few hours and master one of them. Aside from the collision detection issues, it’s a decent fighting game, but nothing special. The only reason it had the notoriety that it did, was due to the fact that Data East designed too much of their title like the well established fighting game that Capcom had released before them. Otherwise, it’s nothing but an afterthought to the genre. It plays well, but not well enough to put it upon its on plateau.
Who Won The Battle Of….
Visuals: Street Fighter II
Although some of the static backgrounds in Fighters History does impress, the color palette, character models and some animations pale in comparison to Capcom’s juggernaut.
Audio: Street Fighter II
Street Fighter II is more memorable across the board, and has a professional sound to it. Whereas Fighters History’s music is barely audible, and the rest of the sound presentation is an uneven mess.
Gameplay: Street Fighter II
No contest. While the jumping controls on both games are too floaty, everything else is more refined and polished on Capcom’s fighter.
Replay Value: Street Fighter II
The characters are lovable, the challenge feels even and its the beginning of a epic series of titles. Even today, Street Fighter II is still fun to jump into. Fighters History is something you’ll come back and play ever once in a while, but you won’t really come away wit anything noteworthy.
Fighters History Rating: 7.2
….and your winner for this Comparison Series is….
Street Fighter II Rating: 8.5
While one can most certainly argue that Capcom had every reason reason to be upset with Data East, the fact of the matter is that Fighters History and Street Fighter II are two different games with two different experiences. Fighters History is not a bad fighting game whatsoever – it’s just that if it weren’t for the comparison situation, no one would have ever bothered to give this fighter the time of day. Street Fighter II on the other hand, helped define the genre, and help establish one of the most recognizable and beloved video game franchises ever. If only they could consistently enter the next chapter in the series without 1001 “upgrades” or “spin offs” (give me Street Fighter V in three years, not Super Street Fighter IV a year after Street Fighter IV was released!)