Atari Jaguar – Fight For Life – Review

Last one… <sniff>

Iain Laskey previews what is possibly the most eagerly awaited Jag title yet, Fight For Life

Every console these days must have its beat-em-up and after some decidedly lacklustre titles, the Jaguar bounces back with a real winner.

Fight For Life has been a long while coming. More than any other Jaguar game, it has been back to the drawing board time and time again as the opposition have upped the ante. It looks like the wait has been worth it though.

From the moment you plug the game in, you know it’s something special. The intro screen is like a mini pop video with the music and fighting synchronised along with zooms and cuts from one view to another. Choose from training, two player or tournament and the battling begins. The plot is largely irrelevant. You can play against the computer or a human opponent. The computer plays a pretty mean game and is great to practice with but you can’t beat (sic) playing against a friend to really get the competitive juices going.

Each of the eight opponents have their own special moves as well as the standard ones. Every time you beat one, you get to choose two of their special moves to add to your own. As you progress, your range of kicks and punches increases. However, there are so many, most people will probably settle on a few favourites. There are also combo-moves which are extremely hard to get right but well worth it in terms of hit points and spectacular on-screen action. How about a face slap combo? Try and remember >^B<^B>^B! With button combinations like that though, a few more hit point wouldn’t have gone amiss.

A fun feature is an invisible force field that surrounds the play area. If you can push your opponent into this, you get to see them electrocuted by long blue sparks. The jerking bodies and sound effects are not for the squeemish!

The computer controlled opponents each have a definite personality and what works against one may not work against the next so it’s a constant learning process getting the tactics right. To beat an opponent, you need to win two out of three matches. The early ones are soon mastered but later ones do take a bit more work. If successful, you get a password to allow you to keep the new skills you have gained.

Given that so many people try to put down the Jaguar, the speed and detail of the graphics should be a revelation to many. Each fighter is fully texture mapped and the various moves are well animated. A nice touch are the little ‘dances’ that the winners perform at the end of each match. The camera angle can be set to fixed or rolling. In the latter mode it pans wildly around the arena following the players. Sometimes close up, it can then fall away to a long shot. Very occasionally it can make it difficult to judge your positioning but this rarely lasts for long.

The music is good and consists of the usual techno tunes. Tempest 2000 has a lot to answer for! The sound effects whilst sparse are well chosen with kicks producing gentle whooshing noises and characters grunting and squeeling when hit hard. An awesomely deep voice introduces each new match.

Comparisons to Tekken and Virtua Fighter are inevitable. I’d be lying if I said this came into their league. Given that they come on CD with hundreds of megabytes of sounds and graphics and Fight For Life is all packed into a 4Mb cartridge, it’s an astounding achievement. It may be missing some of the polish and sophistication of Tekken but it matches them for sheer playability. The only real caveat is that for long term value for money, you need another human opponent to play against. Highly recommended.

Product: Fight For Life
Price:     £59.99
Contact: JTS Atari
Telephone: 01753 xxxxxx

Highs: Superb playability, texture mapped players, sound effects
Lows: Price, some moves tricky to achieve, no really powerful moves

In Short… The wait was worth it! 90%

2 thoughts on “Atari Jaguar – Fight For Life – Review

  1. Good work with your Jaguar reviews. I used to own a Jag back in the mid 1990s before I got a Saturn and felt a bit of a loner because I was the only person I knew who actually had one. My brother had a Megadrive and was always swapping games with friends, while I had no-one (sniff). Quite a few of the games you’ve reviewed here are ones I owned and the reviews bring back some fond memories. Top job!

  2. Thanks. I was also a big Dreamcast fan so off to check your own blog now – looks good :-)

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