Saturn emulation has actually improved a little since the last time we tried this shit with that Fighting Vipers article. Not only that, but my idiot writer also upgraded his laptop (he claims that this was because his old one was on its way out, but the truth is that he wanted to play Undefined Fantastic Object at more than half-speed. Because he's a fucking nerd.) and so making this article was a lot less painful than it could've been. Even so, I still had to make these things into .jpegs (urgh) but clicking the pictures gets you bigger, meatier shots. Also, there may be some minor graphical glitches- I'm just covering my ass here to be sure. Finally, because my writer cohort is a total nerd, he's referring to Candy as Honey. Just to be a dick. Well, that and we used the Honey name in the Fighting Vipers article, so...
Fighters Megamix is AM2 mashing Virtua Fighter and Fighting Vipers together into one game. It makes total sense, when you think about it- although Fighting Vipers is considered a step down from Virtua Fighter, both games are similar enough for a cross-over to be easily done- so it'd take a lot to go wrong for AM2 to fluff this up. Fortunately, AM2 is one of the few dev houses to never fluff anything up. The starting roster is, as you'd expect, every character from Virtua Fighter 2 and Fighting Vipers (including the bizarre Kumachan) which, handily, comes to 11 characters per side (with 10 hidden away, ranging from Rent-a-Hero to the Daytona USA car- click here for a full list). All the stages from both games return as well- cage stages for the Vipers (smash your enemy against the wall to give it to 'em) and wall-less ones for the Virtua crowd (with no ring-out this time, although a few have changed into cage stages). Just from this concept alone, and the developer who's behind it, you know it's gonna be a good time.
As for the game mechanics, it's unsurprising that it's in the tried-and-tested VF/FV standard. The controls are the same as ever- Punch, Kick, Guard, with a focus on strings/combinations of button and d-pad inputs rather than SFII-esque special moves- but with the addition of an Evade function (as the manual ecstatically claims, this was ripped straight from the ROM of Virtua Fighter 3) and a few moves from VF3 for the VF dudes, as well as new armour-smashing properties for some of their moves, to give them a slight boost. The FV guys also get an extra throw to account for throws from the side, and the odd extra move stolen from their VF cousins. You also get a choice between Virtua Fighter and Fighting Vipers game styles. The differences are negligible to the average player, but they're there, honest. The VF style replicates the slower pace of VF (most noticeable when jumping) and it removes a few moves and the fall damage present in FV. FV Mode is faster, adds the flip-recover (P+K+G) so your enemy can't juggle or pounce on you, and has flashier damage and camera effects. You'd think each mode would give its respective representatives a boost, but the opposite is true- VF characters have the advantage in FV mode, as while the armour keeps the FV guys snug, they'll take fall damage and the mid-air recovery means the VF characters aren't as susceptible to being attacked on the ground.
Since there was no arcade version, the structure of this one is a little different. The 1-player mode is split into 7 different courses with 7 characters each (each one ending with a secret character), arranged in themes. You start with Novice Trial, Virtua Fighters, Fighting Vipers and Girls; beating them unlocks Muscle, Smart Guys and Dirty Fighters; clearing them gets you Bosses; beat that and you get Secrets. Most people say that the game lacks replay value for the solo gamer because the entire set of courses can be beaten in little under an hour, but this actually works in its favour. The A.I. is slightly different in some courses (most obvious in Dirty Fighters) and eventually you'll fight every character, so by playing through each course as the same character, you'll learn how to beat different kinds of fighters with them. It's almost like a crash-course in not sucking at AM2 fighters, and your best time for each course is recorded, so you can refine your skills to get the best time. There's also the standard extra modes like survival, team battle, and the training mode from Fighting Vipers making a return, so there's plenty to keep you occupied. Of course, the main draw is fighting with a human opponent...
Honestly, Fighters Megamix is great, and definitely a worthy addition to everyone's Saturn collection, mostly because it's like an expansion pack for two of its finest 3D fighting games- it's built on the solid VF/FV game style so you already know it's going to play well, the bonus characters are great fun to play as (and inventive) and the entire package is a love letter to AM2 fans- cameos from Outrun, After Burner and even Virtua Cop 2 show up here, and it has the biggest roster of any fighting game they've made before or since. More than that, to those who weren't playing at top-end arcades at the time, it replicates a lot of the elements found in Virtua Fighter 3, so even if you've got the Saturn ports of VF2/FV, it still offers you something new. The only reason I can't give it that lovely 5 out of 5 score is because it does feel a little too similar to the games it's based on- this was inevitable of course, but I think stuff like straight-up reusing stages from the games, rather than doing something different as in the Capcom cross-over games, really exacerbates this. It makes the game feel a little less unique, a bit cobbled together, and while it's not enough to destroy the great VF/FV foundation the game rests on, it does take a bit of the sheen off it. Eh, what are ya gonna do?
This game still comes with my recommendation, but you might notice we're not at the end yet. Why?
Let's have a second opinion, from the world of Virtua Fighter.
When I decided to give this game the Gaming Hell treatment, I went online and scoured for reviews- a standard research procedure, just to see if there's something important I haven't picked up on- and the results were pretty interesting. Most of them were, of course, very glowing. However, there were a few comments from hardcore Virtau Fighter fans that caught my attention, such as in the opening paragraphs of this guide, the third paragraph of this review, and the third paragraph here as well. It struck me as a bit odd because while they clearly like the game, they nit-pick too (and it's usually my job to nit-pick). The game doesn't add enough moves from VF3, there's too much focus on the FV guys, the bonus characters are stupid and, at times, broken, it just seems to be a stop-gap to stall time for the Saturn version of Virtua Fighter 3 (which indeed was in developemtn, according to Yu Suzuki's talk at GDC '14)... The most interesting comment among these, though, is that the Vipers have the upper hand because of their high defense and simpler moves, reducing the Virtua Fighters' effectiveness and making the game unbalanced to their disadvantage. Obviously, as I prefer Fighting Vipers to Virtua Fighter I'm a little biased and didn't mind this too much (the only VF character I've ever felt comfortable playing as is Sarah, so I'm probably doing it wrong) but I thought it was an interesting point. Why am I giving it a good score if it's clearly got some kind of inbalance issues?
Because I don't think it was intended as a serious fighting game!
If you look into the near-mythical Saturn port of Virtua Fighter 3, you'll see that it was near the end of November 1996 that Yu Suzuki announced his team could feasibly do Virtua Fighter 3 justice on the Saturn- the exact quote is 'AM2 and myself will take full responsibility for the translation so please count on us'. At the bottom of that same page, you'll see a little story about AM2 members being pulled off Model 3 projects for an unnanounced Saturn-only fighter, then later on it says it's Fighters Megamix- announced just a month before its release in Japan in the same year. Obviously it would be nuts to say Megamix was coded in under a month, but I'd be willing to bet that Fighters Megamix was made so AM2 could let off some steam before setting about the unenviable task of getting a Model 3 arcade game running on the Saturn without the system blowing up. It's something that's not entirely without precedent- silly things like Sonic and Tails hidden in the arcade Fighting Vipers code and the entire existence of Virtua Fighter Kids (even though it was created to test facial expressions to prepare for VF3) show AM2 have a good sense of humour. There's no way this was intended to be a 'serious' fighting game, one meant for tournament play- if it was, it would've been released in the arcade (notice how all the important fighting games come to the arcade first? It's because the arcade has the best game-testing group of all time- arcade gamers... Although there are exceptions, more so these days) and all the extra characters would've been pruned to keep things fair. I believe this game is just for (and I dread to say this word) fun, folks. Does that make it a bad game? Personally, I don't think so. It's built on the foundations of one of the most influential 3D fighting gmaes of all time, still retains its refined game mechanics, and manages to still be entertaining, so I reckon it gets a pass. I'm just a bit soft like that.
So, for Fighters Megamix, there are two ways to approach it. The first is simply to play it like
an idiot like me your average joe- just have fun with it, experiment with the bonus characters as you unlock them, and don't worry about whether the Vipers seem more 'powerful' than the Virtua Fighters. Fighting games don't need to be balanced, 'cause all the unbalanced rosters in the world can't compete with the ultimate weapon- your noggin. Just play smarter (use the reversals as VF characters to beat the Vipers, for example) rather than harder. As far as fighting games go, this has enough to it to let you mess around and maybe hone your skills for a long time, and two-player mode is, naturally, jolly good fun- AM2 didn't spend years refining the VF system for nothing. As for the Virtua Fighter faithful, see it as less a step forward for the genre, and more a cheeky step to the side. It's pretty clear, from all the silly stuff contained within, that the game was never supposed to revolutionise the genre- it's all a bit of fun, you know? Unlike other jokey games though, it's a bit of fun that happens to be built on four year's work on a solid fighting engine, so it gets away with it. Just about, like. Then again, the game is about fifteen years old now (don't you feel old?) so none of this really matters as it's outdated. Still a good party fighting game though, when you can't be bothered to play at your best, eh?
Before we go, just to remind you of the kind of game we're playing here...
This is a fighting game where you can play as a Mexican jumping bean and a girl called Honey (or Candy) wearing a red plastic fairy costume.
Oh, and a fucking car
I get the feeling that a tournament-worthy game wasn't AM2's prerogative here.
For being a wink and a smirk from those funsters at AM2, Fighters Megamix is awarded...
In a sentence, Fighters Megamix is...
The serious fighting game for non-serious people.
And now, it's that time, folks!
Er... I suppose, as a matter of curiosity, I'll have to talk about the other version of Fighters Megamix, won't I?
You know, the Game.Com version.
Inexplicably, of the 20 or so games made for Tiger Electronics' doomed portable (including but not limited to Mortal Kombat Trilogy, Lights Out and Resident Evil 2 seriously are you having a laugh), two of them- Sonic Jam and the focus of our attention now, Fighters Megamix- were Sega properties. Don't ask me how this happened (and don't ask how Virtua Fighter, Virtua Cop and Daytona USA showed up on Tiger's excreble R-Zone system) but it did, and we're going to have to deal with it. Fighters Megamix for the Game.Com is a truncated version of the Saturn game. Heavily truncated. It's down to 4 Virtua Fighters (Akira, Pai, Lion and Jacky), 4 Fighting Vipers (Bahn, Honey, Sanman and Mahler, now with armour that disappears all at once after a certain number of hits), 4 four secret characters (Kids Sarah, Janet, Hornet and Siba), all with er, about 7 moves each- ground, aerial and crouching punches and kicks, and if they're lucky, a special move (in Janet's case, her gun, so once you unlock her the game's over).
I think actually dissecting this version of the game would be a bit unfair, really. For a start, I don't actually own a Game.Com, so my experience is limited to emulation (although having seen the Game.Com's screen in person, that might be an advantage as I can see the flippin' screen without my eyes bursting into flames). Secondly... I mean, seriously, what were you expecting? This port is exactly as good as you think it is. Unfortuantely, as information on Game.Com development is very scant, we had to get someone to send in info on who made it- as reader Jake told us, most games for the ill-fated handheld were made by Tiger themselves, and that's backed up by their logo being all over it an' that. For a bit more background on this sort of thing, there's some interviews at The End of the Game.Com suggesting it was fairly easy to develop for. That's kind-of surprising, really! But now I can stop talking about the Game.Com version of this one. And not a moment too soon..
But hey, I know what you really came to this page to see. The Fighters Megamix guide, right?
Produced with love, for you, this guide has all the portrait pictures, all the secrets and unlockables, the entire character roster...
It's got almost everything you need to know about the game's secrets and intricacies. So read it. Whee!
You know what? Hornet should've been in Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing. With Honey as the driver.