Review by DARK ANDY

"Very Unique and tight fighting game. A Must Have!"

This is a 100 Mega Shock Neo Geo MVS Cart, and taking into account that it was released at the same time as Fighters History Dynamite, King of Fighters 1994 and even Samurai Shodown 2 ( even though it came out 3 months later ), this Fighter hybrid did exceptionally well, even with it's lack of selectable fighters, made up for with original gameplay. IMO, this beat all the above, although King of Fighters 1994 isn't bad by any stretch.

Graphics : 7/10

The Graphics are pretty good for a game this old, when comparing it to other games that competed with this game, Such as Fighters History Dynamite and Art of Fighting 2. The Graphics are equal to, or superior to it's competition.
The Backgrounds are very detailed and every time you look at it, something is always moving or doing stuff. Take for example the Wrestler/Brawler's Stage. The Background is filled to the brim with moving people, richly animated. Sometimes you just have to take a look around, because the background is so packed.

Sound : 8/10

There is a normal amount of various grunts and groans, but all the Special moves are accompanied by some fairly recognizable, and sometimes long words screamed and hollered by the fighters. They add another layer to the coolness, like when the *Main Player* does hiss Finisher. Though if both fighters execute a special move at the same time, some of the time only one of the fighter's sound effect comes out, leaving you either laughing or scratching your head.
Some of the music is Catchy, but most are just there to fill the void when nobody is being beat on. The Music in this game is very good.
In some stages if you hit your opponent with a special move, the crowd will approvingly cheer.
The Ending Music is particularly good, but you can't skip the credits.

Control : 7/10

The control is fairly tight, though performing the finishers are awkward and hard to execute at first, due to the fact that you jump with a button, not by pressing up. You jump with the C Button, which is why the developers decided to add Super Moves with motion such as DownForward - UpForward - Downforward - Upforward button, because you won't jump when you press up. Very cool, and gives it a style all it's own. All it takes is a little practice, and the finishers will just roll off your stick like performing normal quarter circles in Street Fighter.
Pressing the Buttons lightly or hard determines whether you do a Strong or Weak attack. This feature is good on paper, but in gameplay it only leads to some frustration. If you press a button normally, a weak attack will still come out. To get a strong attack, so you must Bash on the button as hard as you can.

Actually, the controls are exceptionally tight for a game so old. KOF '94, Fighters History, Samurai Shodown, and the Fatal Fury series all have a distinct loose, and hit-miss style of performing the special moves. Say in other games of it's time, if you did a special move command, there was a 50/50 chance of the move not coming out, thus leaving you open, or blowing a chance at gaining the upper hand. In all other fighting games in this time frame required and demanded you do the special moves at a certain speed or the move doesn't come out. Not so with AODK. Do the motions Slow or Fast, the move comes out regardless. This is what notches the points up, the tightness, ot the looseness, whichever you prefer.

Lastly, there are loads of normal moves for every fighter, depending on what directions you push before attacking.

Gameplay : 9/10

Now here is the part which sets it apart from all the other knock off wannabe's, the unique gameplay. It's like a mix between Fighting games, and Side Scrolling Beat-em-ups. You still have to beat the opponent until the life bar is at 0, but it's not a constricted 2D plane. You are free to move Up and Down in the stage, just like a Beat-em-up. You also get weapons everywhere, which are for the mot part weak and slow.
There are also Dizzies if you get hit by a string of attacks. You will either get up on one knee and frailly taunt the opponent while you are defenseless, or you'll stay down, at which time the active fighter can go and attack you while you are down.
At various times, an Inconspicuous looking Person walks by the background, and tosses an Item. There are items like a Mace, a Baseball Bat, a Molotov Cocktail, a Shovel, a Sword, Nunchuks and other various Beat-em-up mainstays. But picking them up is another ordeal, and a frustrating one at that. Even if you stand just over the weapon/item, there is a 1/4 chance that you will pick it up, and the opponent will be pulping you while you try to pick up an item. It wouldn't be so bad if picking it up would be worth it, but noooo. Say you finally pick up a Mace after 6 tries and you lost half your life trying to pick it up, you get a gleam in your eye and think, ''now it's time for payback'', as you snicker with the weapon in your hand. So you Jam on the button hard as you can, and either 3 things will happen :

1. The Weapon will pass right through your opponent
2. The Weapon is so slow to attack with, the opponent just moves up or down at a leisurely pace
3. You playfully poke him with the tip of your Mace, just barely hurting him, and has virtually no hit lag

Either which happens, you get a bewildered look on your face, and mutter ''WTF!?'' and get brutally beat down, because you were foolish enough to think that a Mace could even give a flesh wound to the god that is your opponent. Just as a tip now, DO NOT PICK ANYTHING UP. You will get owned if you even TRY to pick anything up, and even if you do pick it up, it's akin to fighting a Dragon with a Toothless Severed Rabbit Head.

Another unique part if the Health Bar itself. First of all, there are 4 health bars, and when you empty one ( Blue ) Bar, another 2 Bars of different colors ( Green then Yellow ) will appear, and then a final Red Bar will be left, which is the killing bar. When you empty that bar, the game is over. There are no 2nd or 3rd rounds, you only get the one you start with.
The Uniqueness comes from the Stage itself. You can move up or down, you can roll up or down, it's like a pseudo 3D fighter without the 3rd dimension. Plus even if you block ANY attack in the game, you will lose Life. However, if any of your Attacks connect, you will get life back!

The 3rd unique part comes in the form of the grappling system. When close to an opponent, press FORWARD and both Punch and Kick ( A+B ), to grapple your opponent. When you have successfully done that, press any button to throw your opponent. BUT, here is the catch : If you mash the buttons just as a High Pitched sound is heard ( Like a metal clink in Samurai Shodown ), you will either counter throw the opponent, or just start a grapple yourself. The Grappling is fun, but the opponent mostly counters every third of your attempts and humiliates you. Though you do get to reverse their move half the time.

There is also some environment interaction, such as Shorty's Stage, which has a Car you can jump on.
Every character has about 3 special moves, all of which look cool, and in the Girl's case, sexy. And not to mention the 1 Super Move you get, which are for the most part, unique.

Lastly, when you are getting beat down hard, and only have half your life bar, you start to SWEAT and PUFF! This is one of the most amusing and realistic aspects I have seen in a long time from a fighting game, even when comparing to fighting games in 2002-2003. Looks very cool and drives you to beat down the punk against you.

Artificial Intelligence : 7/10

You know, the AI is pretty good, not cheap. If you do an attack that is just too open, they'll dodge and get you from behind. If you foolishly do a Special Move, they block it and hit you in your Lag time. Although Fuuma seems to like to cheese the game up a lot, the others play fairly fair.

Replay Value : 3/10

There are no unlockable things, AT ALL. What you see is what you get. There are 8 Fighters in all, and they are VERY varied. Some of them : A Martial Arts guy, a Cheerleader, a big Wrestler/Brawler, a Cool Guy, a Short Basketball player, a HUGE Biker and Fuuma. Yes, you heard right, Fuuma from World Heroes fame is in this game! They must have thought this game needs some Starpower, but this guy is definitely not it. ANY Fatal Fury or Art of Fighting ( save for Todoh, he sucks ) fighter would have been a hugely better choice, but what can you do?

Overall: 6.8/10 ( 41/60 )

Overall a very good addition to anyone's Fighting Game collection, and given it's low low price, I recommend every MVS Gamer to pick this up. It's a very good game, with solid fighters and very solid Controls. A Must Have for every Fighting Game fan..

Misc. Aspects

Before the match starts, both the fighters say some stupid empty catchphrases, which have mostly no meaning.
After you win a Match, it tallies a bunch of stuff, like how fast you beat the guy, and how many points you got in that match.
Whenever you get punched or Kicked in the gut, the character Pukes up something brown.
Look for Engrish typos everywhere. Like in the Credits, one of the Songs is titled ''Silence Night''!

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 02/11/03, Updated 02/11/03

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