27/10/2011

FIVE HALLOWE'EN-Y FIGHTING GAME CHARACTERS

Killing Zone, eh? What a clusterfuck of terrible gameplay, broken game modes and graphics that were blockier than the inside of a Lego factory that was. Still, I like the idea of playing as horror-themed characters in beat-em-ups, so I though I'd take a look at some of the most Hallowe'en-appropriate fighting game characters. Then I remembered about Darkstalkers, so I went and played that for a bit, and that went a long way to getting Killing Zone's rancid flavour out of my mouth. As spooky as all the characters in Capcom's premier monster-based fighting series undoubtedly are, everyone knows about them already. Not wanting this list to be too obvious, I've decided to cast my net a little a little wider. This hopefully means there'll be some characters included that you've never seen before - however, it also means I'll have to call this article Five Particularly Hallowe'en-y Fighting Game Characters That Aren't From the Darkstalkers Series. Bit of a mouthful, that. Anyway, who's first?

Alice, Asura Blade.

Our first fighter appears in Fuuki's 1998 arcade title Asura Blade. Alice looks like a nice girl, doesn't she? A little stern perhaps, but I'm sure she's respectful to her elders, does well in school and doesn't spend her Sunday evenings performing dark sacrifices to the dread lord Baal.

See, she's even carrying a book with her as she fights. How very studious. Of course, this is a Japanese fighting game, so Alice here has almost no chance of turning out to be a normal little girl. Plus, this'd be a pretty shitty entry on the "Hallowe'en Fighters" countdown if she was just a kid who liked reading. So, what's her freakish power?

Skeletons! Alice is quite the young necromancer, and all her attacks revolve around animating the bones of long-dead warriors with her eldritch magicks. If there was one power I could take from a videogame character, it would be Alice's skeleton-summoning skills. Not only would it be incredibly handy around the house, you'd never need to worry about people stealing your seat on the train ever again. The 3:28 to Leeds will be a much more pleasurable experience if you can always guarantee yourself a table seat, and as a bonus you'll have someone to play I-Spy with on the longer trips. Here's a tip: if they say it begins with "B", it's probably bones.

Tessa / Tabasa, Red Earth / Warzard.

Capcom's Red Earth is a strange beast, a technically solid fighter with some RPG elements that's hampered by only having four playable characters. Happily, one of those characters is a witch - if her magic powers didn't clue you in, Tessa's giant pointy hat gives it away. The hat serves another purpose, too; it distracts you from the fact she's wearing trousers of such mammoth volume and gargantuan puffiness that even MC Hammer would be taken aback to see them.

When talking about horror-themed fighting games, the conversation always ends up back at Darkstalkers, and that's sort of the reason I've included Tessa on this list. Here's my half-baked and completely unverified theory: Tessa was originally designed for Darkstalkers but never made it into that series, instead pitching up in Red Earth.

The reason I say this is that the Darkstalkers series doesn't include a witch amongst its menagerie of freaks. Each of the other Hallowe'en mainstays, even the gill-monster, gets a character based on them (the other exception might be the skeleton, but as someone pointed out in the comments for Killing Zone, Zabel is pretty much there) but the witch is a notable absentee. So, maybe Capcom did try to design a witch, but for some reason she was rejected. If that is the case, I'm going to presume that the reason she was rejected is because she's not scantily-clad enough - and after Felicia, getting her scantily-clad enough without giving the game a XXX rating is a difficult task indeed.
So, that's my baseless theory: Tessa is a leftover Darkstalkers character. And even if she isn't, she deserves her place here because she's a witch. That hat's a real giveaway.

Marco, Kaiser Knuckle

Taito's entry into the crowded field of Street Fighter II clones was actually a fairly decent effort, the basic gameplay being enlivened by some nice graphics, destructible arenas and interesting characters: the most interesting, and my personal favourite, is the bandage-shrouded Frankenstein's Monster Marco. I've always liked the mysterious bandaged look, although I'm not sure the off-the-shoulder top is really working for him.

While he plays like the slow-yet-powerful fighter that I'm sure you assumed he was, Marco also has a few tricks up his sleeve. He can throw his head at his opponents, for one thing. It regrows instantaneously, so if the scientist who created Marco hasn't already been brutally slain by a mob of angry villagers already then he's in line for a Nobel Prize. Marco can also stretch his limbs to attack opponent from afar, much like Dhalsim: unlike Dhalsim, Marco does it by ripping his own limbs apart.

It may look painful, but the pain is worth it if it means you can punch your doppelganger in the dick from across the room.

Ickybod Clay, Clayfighter

Want a spooky character, but can't decide if a ghost or a pumpkin most effectively conveys the right terrifying message? Slap a pumpkin on top of ghost! Job done, everyone gets a raise.

His bio may make him sound like a goth, but I love Ickybod because he's so... Hallowe'en-y. It's just a shame he appears in a game as sub-par as Clayfighter: if he appeared in a title that was even half-decent I'd play it constantly just to be close to my mallowy pumpkin hero, but as it stands Clayfighter is so bad not even Ickybod the Wonder Squash can redeem it. So, he remains trapped in his claymation prison, patiently waiting for someone to buy his rights and make a game starring him that doesn't make the player want to renounce fighting games forever.

He certainly does - my heart, that is! Oh ho ho, we do love to joke. And kill.

Skullomania, Street Fighter EX

As much as I love Ickybod, I love Skullomania just that little bit more. Created by Arika for Street Fighter EX, an early attempt at a polygon-based SF game, Skullomania has an obvious Hallowe'en connection in that he's dressed as a ruddy skeleton. I like skeletons, and I appreciate the opportunity to punch M. Bison in the face while playing as one. However, the main reason I like Skullomania so much, and the reason that I feel he's particularly appropriate for this Hallowe'en list, is his backstory.

Once a normal salaryman struggling with his shitty job, Saburo Nishikoyama dresses as a skeleton-based superhero during a promotion at the department store where he works. Then he goes fucking insane. He decides that the life of a salaryman isn't enough for him, and he dedicates himself to fighting evil as a costumed superhero, presumably with no training, martial arts skills, gadgetry or any clue what the hell he's doing. It's a terrifying story, really - a man is crushed beneath his weight of his miserable career, suffers a complete mental collapse and takes to running around in a spandex Hallowe'en costume and beating people up. Magical, simply magical.
If you'd like a clearer indication of the wonder that is Skullo's madness, here's a compilation video showcasing his signature move: the "Skullo Dream".



Punch, kick, drink some tea, kick, sexy pose, punch, punch, laser beam. Forget the Shun Goku Satsu, the Skullo Dream is the greatest move in the whole of the SF canon.
While the SFEX series wasn't bad, I think the only thing that came out of it that I would love to see again is Skullomania. Sadly, I don't think Capcom own the rights to ol' Skullo: that honour goes to SFEX co-developers Arika. Still, no matter how much of a dream beyond a dream it is I'll continue to hold my lonely vigil, waiting for the magical day when Skullomania returns to us in playable form. Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 DLC? If only.

There you go, then - a quick look at five phantasmagorical fighting game characters. I can only pray that when I suffer my inevitable metal collapse, I come out the other side dressed as a skeleton.

3 comments:

  1. Not that they're particularly halloweeny, but I was expecting to see some Mace: The Dark Age or BIO Freaks characters in this list.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Trenchman: I've never actually played Mace, but I think Psyclown from Bio-Freaks would make a pretty good number 6 for this list.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I love those character especially the sexy witch girl and I think she also powerful attacks and combos.

    Zombie games

    ReplyDelete

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