Obscurity Heaven (Or Hell)

At the risk of sounding like the stereotypical raging, sarcastic, stupid video game reviewer, there are a lot of games that piss me off because they suck. And I'm not talking about the usual "Oh those graphics are sooooo 1999 B.C." or "This game is a rip-off of (insert Popular Game here)". No, I mean games everybody loves. Super Street Fighter IV is probably the best example of what I'm talking about.

The game is shitty, hands down. Know why? It doesn't have Elena. It doesn't give you access to both Ultra moves at once (even though no character has the same input for them). It doesn't put pressure on scrubs to get better; between Zangief Lariatting the shit out of you when he's not trying to stick his tongue up your ass, and Ken Shoryukening you out of a fucking eyeblink, SSFIV sucks. And Super Street Fighter IV - Arcade Edition will suck even harder because stupid Yun and Yang get yet ANOTHER fucking appearance in the series. Why don't they just call it "Yun/Yang's Street Fighting Simulator?" Oh, I can already see the good 'ol inbox piling up with shitloads of hate mail from "tournament players" about how bad I must suck at the game or some other such nonsense.

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Well, kiss my grits, fuckface. I play Guy, Dhalsim, and T. Hawk. Just because I don't go for the Top Tier sellout doesn't mean I'm bad at the game. And that's just one example. I could (and should) go on at length about how games today piss me off. I tend to find that "popular" is synonymous with "really, really shitty but everybody plays it, anyway". More often than not, I can squeeze a lot of enjoyment out of games everybody shies away from. What's the appeal? Perhaps it's the fact that these under-appreciated gems need love, too. It could be that there's virtually no competition for them, meaning some "expert" (read: PRICK) isn't breathing down my neck about frame data or some form of bullshit glitch canceling. Mostly, I think it's akin to a love for B-Movies, gems that no one enjoys one fucking bit until some dickhead actor makes a reference in a bro-mance movie.


These games, to me at least, are a great diversion from the typical contemporary gaming experience. Well, I've cobbled together a few notable examples from a list of imfamously bad/obscure fighting games that could go on for a novel's worth of reading. Hop on board with me for a ride you'll likely forget in about 15 minutes!


Well, I'm pretty sure everybody in the room remembers Time Killers, right? Well, this is its lesser-known and under-appreciated younger brother. Produced by Strata, this game had the rather novel notion that it was competing with the Mortal Kombat franchise. I guess a good analogy for this would be the Cub Scouts vs. the Green Berets. BloodStorm didn't stand a "Donut at a Facts of Life Reunion's" chance against Midway's gore-powered juggernaut. And I'm really surprised, because BloodStorm had a lot of potential, if it lacked originality. For a game that thought it was all balls over Mortal Kombat, it certainly borrowed.


And by "borrowed," I mean "engaged in a festival of larceny" from Mortal Kombat in spades. Mortal Kombat has Sub Zero, the ice-wielding ninja who rips your spine out. BloodStorm has Freon, the ice-wielding skater who does the "Bloody Slushy" to you. Mortal Kombat has the Pit, a spike-lined abyss that inept fighters find themselves inhabiting in various states of dismemberment. BloodStorm has Subterra, where inept fighters who so much as go too far left or right end up with a stalagmite as a new (and permanent) addition to their chest cavity. Mortal Kombat has the Dead Pool, BloodStorm has the Toxic Marsh...

...and so friggin' on. When it didn't suffer from identity disorder, BloodStorm was amazing.


The game was absolutely riddled with secrets and nifty ways to kill your opponent, and damn near every level had something tucked away, awaiting discovery. The actual fighting was again, a lot like Mortal Kombat, but with a dash of MegaMan. Yeah, you read that right. When you beat an opponent, you get an ability from them that is unique. It also had password support, so you could pick up where you left things in case some jerkwad kicked you off the machine because he plays Razor. I was probably that jerkwad. In all, BloodStorm is worth a look, if for no other reason than to play the unofficial sequel to Time Killers.


Eternal Champions:
Challenge From The Dark Side
Well, If you owned a Sega Genesis in it's heyday, chances are you heard about Eternal Champions. You might have even played it a little. And, chances are even better that if you did, you went back to Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter II - Special Champion Edition. I was one of those fucking weirdos that thought the game was good. For those who haven't played it, it's pretty easy to explain.

Every single character is a charge character (like Guile or Blanka). Most characters have projectiles, and anti-air moves, (yawn) but what really separated it from the games that kicked its ass were the REALLY unique moves...


...like Shadow's, well, shadow, which makes you totally invincible for a short time. Jetta can make you move incredibly slow, and can also make herself move ridiculously fast. Xavier can change which person is playing which character, and can also change your controls; no two characters played even remotely the same. It even featured a last boss that had FIVE distinct forms, an advanced training mode arena riddled with an assortment of traps, a reflex test, and a tournament mode that could feasibly last for DAYS! Pretty bold thinking and execution, in all. That was just the Genesis version; Sega CD got the beefed-up Challenge From The Dark Side upgrade, featuring TONS more characters (including secret ones), more backgrounds, more ways to decimate losing opponents, and a CD-quality soundtrack.


Oh, and instead of ONE last boss that had FIVE forms, the colossal upgrade has TWO las bosses, with NINE forms each. Fuck you, Mortal Kombat; this is a REAL endurance match! There was a lot more emphasis on skillful play, with a great bonus for players who could successfully execute large combos. Like any good fighting game, Eternal Champions has a lot of emphasis on character spacing during play; not only in actual fighting, but in murdering your opponent! Where EC dropped the ball, though, was in comparing itself to Street Fighter in advertisements in the mid-nineties. "A wimp like Blanka wouldn't stand a chance" is a line I laugh my ass off at any time I pore through an old X-Men comic. For what it is, Eternal Champions kicks ass and is a nice spin on the traditional 2-D fighting formula. SEGA (scream)!


Tattoo Assassins
[Bob Gale / Data East]
Well, Holy shit. This game proves talent and creativity are more than a match for Bob Gale (look him up) and Data East's pinball division. Tattoo Assassins was Mortal Kombat without any semblance of style or originality. What it lacks in graphics, sound, gameplay, story, and all that other nonsense it sure as hell makes up for in fun (and for all the wrong reasons). An impressive number of fatalities (like dropping a DeLorean on some fool's head) make it worth suffering through; just engaging in the lack of sophistication is its own fun. Kind of like Fargo, or Rocky Horror Picture Show, really. Shitty, uninspired characters and really bad fighting mechanics make game a treasure; the kind you want to bury.


Samurai Shodown V - Special
I love this game, and wish the rest of the world did, too. This is as close to a balanced SNK fighting game we will EVER see. Lots of characters (including a returning one from Samurai Shodown II, complete with re-drawn sprites), make it so casual competition is always surprising. Great graphics and new mobility and guard mechanics make it the single most complete Samurai Shodown experience there is, minus the fact that some characters didn't make the cut. Shiki *sigh*, Asura, Gen-an, Earthquake, Wan-fu, Yumeji, Sankuro, and Poppy are not playable. Sankuro is one we can all agree on, I think.


The bright graphics in Samurai Shodown V - Special are a stark contrast to the incredibly violent contest that usually ends in contenders getting killed in horrible ways. For laughs, do Basara's Zetsumei Ougi to Mina. It's sad, horrifying, and giggle-inducing all at the same time. Meditation from the original Samurai Shodown V is back, as is the Issen Flash ("single-strike") kill, but most other things (like Gaoh's boss Demon form) are not. Which is good, because it feels a little more balanced and fun, for an SNK game.

I could go on for pages and pages about how much I love this game. I highly recommend this one to everybody.


Jackie Chan In: Fists Of Fire
Ever hear of Kaneko? No? Well, they did a lot of really perverse video pachinko games for Japanese arcades. Ever hear of Jackie Chan?

Jesus, I'm sorry, of course you have! Now please calm down while I regale you with the tale of one of the most dynamic and epicly obscure tag teams ever created. In 1995 this game came out. And no one played it. The end. This game is every obscurists dream; it's bad, laughably so, but it's also incredibly fun to play. Huge juggles, incredibly random damage, and THREE iterations of Jackie make this game a kick in the ass.


Get a room full of friends and fire this fucker up; it's newbie friendly without being too dumbed-down. Jackie's antics are riotous, no more so than when upon being defeated, he gets up, gives you the thumbs-up, and says, "you're getting better!" It's almost as if he let you win, or if it were just a sparring match. Come to think of it, when there's no Jackies fighting, the game is incredibly bloody. It's like the game says "Whoa, hold up, J-Man isn't here, let's have a fuckin' blood orgy!" There's no outright dismemberment, but there is a lot of gushing blood, bodies being set aflame, and yin yangs covered in blood. Pretty violent for a Jackie Chan related escapade.

For real though, play this one. You'll love it..


Dark Rift
[Vic Tokai]
No. Next.

[Vic Tokai]
No. Next.

[BAD: What in God's name is a "Vic Tokai," anyway? The second part could be Japanese, but what or who is the first part? Vic? There's no dog-fighting in either of these games, so it can't be Michael Vic! "What's in a name?" Apparently, bad game production.]


Man, I loved this game growing up. I couldn't tell you why, other than the over-the-top levels of cheesy gore and exceptionally bad music. It's kind of like watching a Bruce Campbell SyFy original movie; you love the source, but the end result just makes you sad. The arcade version featured a gigantic, backlit "3-D" button, which let your character move in (you guessed it) 3-D! Guess they never played Tekken...

...or any other fighting game, for that matter. I remember making my cousin cry by putting in the code to play as Exor once. I kept using his unblockable teleport slam move until he died. Then we got grounded from the N64 for fighting. For real.


Street Fighter III - Third Strike:
Fight For The Future
Know why this game sucks? When all tournaments (with the exception of SBO) have the same THREE fucking characters being played, you know you've picked up a stinker. Boring backgrounds, boring music, and ridiculously-unbalanced characters make a shitty SHITTY experience that just happens to be pretty popular. Anybody remember Street Fighter III - 2nd Impact: Giant Attack, when Sean wasn't garbage-tier? Anyone? Oh, go fuck your Collective Soul(s).

"One Man's Trash..."
To wrap this all up, stray off the beaten path for a bit. Check some of these stinkers out when you get a chance, and remember that "good" and "fun" aren't usually interchangeable. Just like "Expert" and "Ken" are mutually exclusive concepts to each other.

- Sol SadGuy -

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