Console: Sega Genesis
Genre: Elephant Bellydancer
Fighting Masters is a pretty damn horrible fighting game from 1992. The game has unbalanced characters, subpar music and graphics, and the gameplay seems almost entirely focused on landing cheap attacks and exploiting glitches with the collision detection. And while it deserves some credit for being one of the few fighting games on the system not to require a 6-button controller, this is kind of countered by the fact that it basically only uses one button for attacks. Another is used to jump (which could have just as easily been done by pressing up on the d-pad), and the third button, with the exception of one or two characters, isn’t used at all. As a result, the gameplay revolves around doing the same move over and over in the hope of stunning your opponent, then throwing him into a wall, for this game’s sad version of a “combo”.
Needless to say, while it’s easy to heap scorn upon such meager gameplay, crafting comedy out of it isn’t quite as easy. And the bare bones story about an intergalactic fighting tournament where the winning planet is saved from extinction doesn’t give us much to work with, either. Which is why we decided to spend the rest of this update profiling the game’s twelve characters.
Brad: Meet the last hope for mankind. His name is Dirk. I have to admit that seeing Earth being represented by Dirk doesn’t exactly inspire me with confidence for the survival of our species. I don’t know, maybe I was just hoping the savior of mankind would be a little taller or you know, wore pants.
Stryker: Does it say somewhere in the rules that we have to send one of our own to represent our planet? ‘Cause I’d like our chances a lot better if we could send a bear. It just doesn’t seem fair that all the civilizations are made up of scary monsters and we’re regular guys.
Race: Elephant Exotic Dancer
Brad: Shit, as if fighting against an elephant isn’t scary enough, this one’s dressed up like a bellydancer. I don’t know why, but that’s even more terrifying.
Stryker: How could there be a planet where the dominant species is a bunch of elephant dudes? Did some Earth elephants get abducted by other aliens and put on another planet until they evolved into this? Or are our elephants descended from some of these guys who landed on our planet? Either way, they’re going to be pissed when they see what we’ve done to their relatives over the last few centuries. Poor Dirk – this isn’t going to end well for him at all.
Brad: Oh good, I always wanted a fighting game where I could play as the old Denver Broncos logo. I should do fine as long as none of my opponents has a gigantic “D” that I’ll feel obligated to rear up through.
Stryker: Equus doesn’t normally wear boots, but he had to for this because there’s rules against braining your opponent with a horseshoe.
Race: Hot Woman
Brad: I love Morin’s fashion sense, pairing an armored bikini with some kind of cape that starts at her waist. Oh sure, just about everything else is out on display, but there’s no way anyone’s getting a glimpse of her butt. I’d say the outfit objectifies women, but since Dirk’s showing more ass than she is, I guess everything’s ok.
Stryker: I just like that they let her use tonfas. It’s like they put her in the game specifically so there’d be a female character to balance things out, but then since she’s a weak little girl, they had to let her use a weapon to make it fair for her. That’s ok – I kinda doubt that getting a female character equal treatment in Fighting Masters was a big priority for the Women’s Rights Movement anyway.
Race: Breakdancing Robot
Brad: Grinder is kind of like the Terminator scenario brought to its conclusion. Think about it – if a robot is representing its home planet in a tournament like this, it means the machines must have wiped out their creators. The awesome thing in this case is that they did it not with guns, but with Freddy Krueger claws.
Stryker: I hate to spoil the ending, but I think the main purpose of Grinder is so that they would have a robot breakdancing throughout the ending credits. Otherwise, he’s a pretty crappy character. Oddly enough, while dancing, he doesn’t even do the robot. Some might call that ironic, but I like to think that maybe his creators programmed him with a concept of dignity.
Race: Vertically Challenged Rock Monster
Brad: The thing I love about Goldrock is that after he throws his opponent, he gets a big, smug grin and holds his arms up in victory. He’s the only character in the game who does anything like that. It’s like the designers decided they only had time to give one character a personality, and out of all the fighters, this was their choice.
Stryker: What’s even better is the fact that they decided to make him be kind of a dick. Every time I think about this, I can’t help but imagine the development team in a brainstorming session, sitting around a table when one guy shouts out “How about an arrogant rock monster” and everybody else is like “YES!!! That’s our best idea yet!” Then they all give each other high fives and watch Roadhouse to celebrate.
Race: Uh… Flying Rat Thingy?
Brad: Well here we go – this game will finally settle the debate of who would win a fight between a belly-dancing elephant and a … whatever the hell this is.
Stryker: Since a Phoenix is a big, flame-colored bird, and this thing clearly isn’t one of those, we’re left to assume that he’s from the planet Phoenix. Didn’t know about the planet Phoenix? Well, astronomers like to name planets they don’t really know much about after cities with no distinguishing characteristics whatsoever. That way the name is familiar but nobody gets any false preconceptions of what the planet might be like until they actually find out more about it. The planet Phoenix is in the same solar system as Syracuse, San Jose, and Tallahassee.
Race: Lobster or Insect
Brad: Hey, look who’s not winning this tournament! Poor Zygrunt. We’re not even sure if he’s is supposed to be a giant bug or a giant lobster. And considering how confused he looks, we’re not sure he really knows either. That’s ok – for all practical purposes, aren’t lobsters really just big, delicious insects that live underwater anyway?
Stryker: Thanks Zygrunt, at least Dirk won’t come in last place now. Goldrock probably took one look at this guy and then ran to the store to buy a really big pot and a lot of butter. Cocky bastard.
Race: Fat Blue Guy
Brad: What’s this? Did E. Honda get sick of having his ass handed to him by everyone in Street Fighter and decided to sneak into a different fighting game with easier competition?
Stryker: Or maybe just more edible competition.
Brad: Ok, I don’t get this. Most of the other names made sense – Rotundo was fat, Goldrock was a Gold Rock. But this guy looks nothing like Dio. This was made even more frustrating by the fact that after every match his health bar would fill back up, and it sort of looked like I was charging up my “Dio Meter”. I kept hoping that if I filled it up all the way I’d be able to do his finishing move – the Holy Diver! – but this was not to be.
Stryker: Well, I like Dio, if only because he’s the character that I finally beat this godforsaken game with. I used the tried and true method of not moving or pressing any buttons until my opponent walked into me, then I threw him. Worked every time. Yeah, this game’s not very good.
Race: Freaking Dragon
Brad: Damn. Do you suppose once all the other fighters saw this guy, they were like “Well, our planet’s doomed”? I mean, Xenon can fly and breathe fire and if all else, just bite your damn head off. Dirk couldn’t even remember to wear pants. Sorry, non-dragon participants, maybe next year. It’s like going to a Pee-Wee football tournament, and finding out the Dallas Cowboys are playing in it.
Stryker: Well, if he really is like the Dallas Cowboys, there might still be some hope – you could always hold off and wait for Xenon to implode on himself. Maybe his various limbs will start fighting with each other, or he’ll start dating a pop star who’ll become a huge distraction while his coach stands around cluelessly and looking depressed. Or maybe he’ll just accidentally fly into the scoreboard and break his neck.
Race: Boxing Cyclops
Brad: Uppercut is kind of hard to buy into on a psychological level. First of all, the idea that a planet other than Earth would independently develop the sport of boxing, right down to the gloves and everything, seems kind of hard to believe. But for the sake of argument, lets assume that Uppercut’s home planet received some transmissions of boxing matches or something and became familiar with the sport. Here’s the second problem – Cyclopses would suck at it. They just would. Boxing is a sport in which depth perception and field of vision are key aspects, and both of those things are greatly enhanced by binocular vision. Besides, one punch in his gigantic eye and he’s done. The sport never would have caught on in the first place, thus denying Uppercut a chance to ever get good at it.
Stryker: Uppercut plays kind of like Balrog from Street Fighter 2, but unlike Balrog, he’s far from worst character in the game. That gives you an idea of just awesome the fighters on Earth must be – Street Fighter managed to give us 11 brawlers who are all better than Balrog. The entire rest of the galaxy came up with maybe 6 or 7.