- Fun, simple gameplay
- New characters that weren’t in the original
- Multiplayer is good fun
- Light in content
- Isn’t very deep
- Not much replay value
If you’re a fan of the Sonic The Hedgehog franchise, then you’ve probably heard of Sonic The Fighters at some point. And, if so, you’ve more than likely heard that its a little bit pants. Regardless of the general opinion of it though, SEGA has decided to give the game (which was originally released in arcades and was later ported to the GameCube/PlayStation 2) a high-def makeover and add online multiplayer functionality along with trophy/achievement support to the sixteen year-old brawler. The big question though is of course whether it’s worthy of your hard earned dosh, or if it’s only worth a look at if you’re a die-hard fan of the blue blur. Generally I would say that the latter statement holds true in most instances, but that’s not to say you’ll hate it as a casual Sonic fan, it’s just that there are much better, deeper fighters out there that’ll keep you playing a lot longer.
Sonic The Fighters is a game that came about, funnily enough, by a character designer for Fighting Vipers messing around by putting Sonic and Tails into the game. The team liked the idea of a Sonic fighting title so much that, once Fighting Vipers had been completed; they then started work on Sonic The Fighters. Pretty cool, huh? So if you were wondering why the game has such an unusual graphical style for a Sonic game, it’s because it’s essentially a mod of Fighting Vipers. To be perfectly honest the original game itself didn’t look brilliant, but the fresh lick of paint that the HD remake has been given represents a significant improvement – there’s now much more colour and detail in everything and it runs as smooth as butter. Character models still look a little rough at times, but they’re a lot sharper now and definitely look a far site better than their original counterparts. If you’ve ever played, well, practically any of them, you’ll know that Sonic games have a tendency to have extremely memorable soundtracks, but sadly Sonic The Fighters is the exception to that rule. It’s not terrible by any means, but it’s unlikely that you’ll find yourself humming alone to any of the game’s tunes when you wake up in the morning.
Being a fighter and all, the game’s plot isn’t exactly Lord of the Rings. To sum up, Dr. Robotnik has built the Death Egg II, so obviously it’s up to Sonic and his pals to put a stop to his evil plans. Problem is that the only way to get up there is via Tails’ rocket ship called the Lunar Fox, and it’s only got one seat. Oh, and it requires the combined power of eight chaos emeralds to fuel the thing, naturally. Each of Sonic’s so-called buddies possesses one emerald each, and all of them want to have a crack at saving the day so a fighting tournament is held to determine who will be the one to go up and kick Robotnik’s ass across space. As you do. So yeah, it’s not a great backstory, but it suffices in explaining why everyone’s trying to knock the seven shades out of each other.
The game’s roster is comprised of the usual suspects, with the likes of Sonic (duh), Tails, Knuckles and Amy all making the cut, but also some obscure, strange choices like Fang the Sniper, Bean the Dynamite and…err…Bark the Polar Bear. Yes, really. Altogether there were eight characters to choose from in the arcade original (and thus in the GameCube/PS2 version found on Sonic Gems Collection), but SEGA have taken it up to eleven (quite literally) in the new re-release by making Metal Sonic and Robotnik playable fighters. Oh and some randomer called Honey the Cat, but no one cares about her. It’s a really nice addition that SEGA didn’t absolutely have to make to justify re-releasing the game, but it certainly adds value to the remake and makes it worth a download even if you already own the original version.
Each character has their own unique moves that differentiate them from everyone else, such as Sonic’s Spin Dash and Fang’s popgun, but they generally all handle similarly. One of the aspects of the game that some will love and others will absolutely despise is in the controls. There are literally just three actions to remember with a button assigned to each: punch, kick and block. That’s it. There are a few different combos that you can use that mix things up a bit, sure, but make no mistake, this is no Street Fighter or Tekken, not even close. Beginners and casual fighting fans probably won’t mind at all, but if you’re a hardcore fan of the genre then you’ll more than likely find Sonic The Fighters to be too simple for your tastes. Add to this the fact that there are only two game modes, Arcade and VS, and you’ve got a game that, to be frank, is pretty light in content. Multiplayer, which is playable both locally and online, is good and works well, but if you like to play your beat-em-ups solo then it’s unlikely to hold your attention for long.
Personally I’ve never agreed with the generally ultra negative consensus of Sonic The Fighters. Sure, it’s by no means a comprehensive fighter with hundreds of moves and dozens of characters, but the core game itself, though basic, is pretty good fun. If you’re a Sonic fan then you’ll lap up the references to past Sonic titles (particular in regards to the stages, which are based on classic levels from the original Mega Drive Sonic titles), and the remake’s inclusion of new playable characters and online multiplayer provide reason enough to pick up the game again even if you already own it. Unless you find yourself addicted to the online multiplayer however, it’ll most likely only hold your interest for a couple of hours at best. For the mere £3.99/400 Microsoft Point entry fee though it’s well worth a look at, just as long as you don’t expect too much.