Thursday, 29 October 2015

Fighting Fantasy - Arcade

Nice pixel art, but that's about it.

I wasn't entirely sure of what to expect when I started playing Fighting Fantasy. I was worried initially it was going to be one of those QIX based games where you slowly carve out an arena while the image of a nude woman sits behind a screen that slowly is revealed while you progress through avoiding pointless enemies. Thankfully this isn't one of those games as it is in fact a beat-em-up. Sadly it's not a very good one but it is one of the more creative attempts I've seen from the older sets of games.

Thankfully, no hippos were harmed in the Hippodrome

The premise of Fighting Fantasy is a simple one. You've been chosen as some sort of badass with a sword to take part in interstellar games of gladiatorial combat, where all the other creatures also happen to be from the mythos of the same planet. Not quite sure how that figures out but at least there was an attempt to do something other than "Here's enemies, go crack skulls" which is almost neatly explained in the title sequence after you pump in your cash.

For a particularly non-human enemy, it's well coded.

Controls are simple enough, harkening back to the days of Barbarian on the old early 80s home computers. You've an attack button, a jump button and 8directions of the joystick. Tapping the attack while pushing a direction will result in an attack of some nature while hold back and attack will block (usually) an attack for a short while. Interestingly, after each fight you can purchase weapons and items to keep yourself alive and give different stats. Longer weapons tend to hurt less while short range weapons do the most damage (except against the last enemy where everything does 1 hit point of damage, the cheap bastard).

Just a little bit one-sided in this battle...

Your opponents in Fighting Fantasy are as varied as they are difficult to fight. Each enemy requires a different tactic (Though getting them into a corner and hammering them repeatedly works almost universally well. Ranging from a Lamia (snake woman), Gargoyles, lizard men, scorpion men, dragons, an obligatory twin battle, wizards and the last boss who might as well be God with the health and over prioritised attacks and moves he's got.

Just as unfair as it looks, the 2nd hardest battle in the game.

But the uniqueness in Fighting Fantasy is that each character will fight in a different way. Lamia will use her snake tail to attack at times, Scorpion man will try to poison with the stinger, the twins will do dual-moves, wizard attacks with a huge selection of spells, the Dragon is enormous and more like a boss than a fight and all the fighters have a certain charm to them that shows there's something fairly well developed in this game.

I did not beat this guy, I am ashamed.

Sadly the execution of the game is dross. Fighting Fantasy has the ideas and the ambition but lacks the actual game to pull off what it's attempting to do. While the graphics are impressive for the time and the enemies are clearly and well thought out in their design and performance, the gameplay is the key issue in that it becomes a hammer and button basher very quickly and the idea of using tactics in combat is laughed out the window unless you effectively study this game like you're learning a new language. (And no, not because it's partly in Japanese)

Will kill you unless you fight dirty.

If the combat in Fighting Fantasy (you know, the very CORE of a fighting a game) had been improved and made more accessible and playable, this would have been a solid hit of a game. Unfortunately it's become an unexciting mess punctuated with impressive idea but horrible execution.

One of the MORE infuriatingly cheap enemies. Akin to putting a slingshot against a Howitzer.

Almost fitting that the last two words of my previous paragraph are entirely suitable for what to do with this game.