18/07/2014

CRAZY FIGHT (ARCADE)

 Today's article is about Subsino's 1996 arcade game Crazy Fight, which isn't a fighting game. Is it crazy? That depends on where weird cartoon faces and extremely simplistic gameplay fall on your personal insanity meter.


Even by the standards of some of the games I write about, Crazy Fight is very obscure. I couldn't find much out about Subsino other than they're a Taiwanese outfit who mostly make video slot machines and kid's rides. The only other videogame I've seen from them is a Bubble Bobble / Snow Bros riff called Penguin Brothers, so I don't think crafting fantastic gameplay experiences is going to be their forte and just looking at the title screen is only amplifying that feeling: considering it's from 1996, that is not an attractive title screen.


Just to let you know that I do attempt some research before inevitably flying into these articles half-cocked, I tried to find out what information, if any, the subtitle revealed. I managed to figure out that the first symbol is an alternate way of writing "crazy" in Chinese, but I couldn't get the rest, although if it ends up just saying "Crazy Fight" I won't feel too bad about giving up.


Here's our hero. It's Cyber Beavis! Cyber Beavis' mission is to save the world from evil and score with some babes. The naive fool, he'll never score with anyone wearing those shoes. He's also got a massive gun sticking out of his shoulder, right next to his ear, so he's presumably deaf as well as looking like an unused Power Rangers villain.


There's a stage select screen, for selecting your stage. How exciting. You'll notice that the stages are displayed as two rows of three: remember that, it'll come up again in a minute.
So, what stages are available? It looks like there's a dockyard, an airport, an indistinct jumble of pixels, the factory where they make the oil drums for all those side-scrolling beat-em-ups, a space station and a graveyard. That graveyard is offering the strongest impetus yet to overcome my usual inability to play stages in anything other than the "correct" order, but I managed to resist its charms and I'm heading down to the docks.


Yep, that's definitely a harbour of some sort. A big boat, some crates - I can practically smell the sea air.


A man with a rocket launcher jumps up from behind a box. Who is he? What does he want? Is it wise to be firing a rocket launcher at a target that's so close to you? I'm afraid I have no answers to these questions. Well, except the last one, the answer to that is "no, you dope". As to Crazy Fight's plot (there isn't one) and setting (generic) I have no information. All I know is that I'm going to have to shoot this rocket launcher man before he blows me up.


Aww, I made him cry. Wait, not "aww", the guy was going to kill me. I'd say he got off pretty lightly.
That's the gameplay, then: Crazy Fight is a shooting gallery where targets pop up in the background and you have to shoot them before they shoot you. The thing is, it's a shooting game without physical gun, or even a joystick / cursor set-up. You have six buttons, each one corresponding to one of the six areas of the screen where enemies can appear, the areas being laid out in the two-rows-of-three grid that I told you to remember from the stage select screen. This enemy was in the top-left zone, so pressing the top-left button shoots him. Simple!


Very simple, in fact. Once you've shot a bad guy, you've experienced the sum total of Crazy Fight's gameplay. There are no power-ups, no weapon upgrades, no secret bonuses that I could find, just a one-dimensional test of reflexes that has the feel of a minigame that's been stretched out way, way too thin. The only other thing you need to pay attention to is that hostages pop up, like the nerd pictured above, and you're not supposed to shoot them. You lose health if you do. Shooting hostages accounted for roughly 90% of the health I lost while playing this game, but in my defence the hostages don't so much "pop up" as they constantly pour onto the screen making loud, attention-grabbing noises. I know you're scared, buddy - we'd all be scared if we were kidnapped by terrorists - but jumping out into the middle of a gunfight and waving your arms around like there's a swarm of wasps in your hair isn't helping anyone. You get shot, I lose health and the terrorists have one less hostage to distract me with, it's a lose-lose-lose scenario.


"No," says Crazy Fight, "bad Cyber Beavis. Stop shooting the innocents." Hey, if they're so innocent why are they hanging around this shady port, a known gathering place for terrorists, hmm? Case closed. That's Crazy Fight. We can all go home now.
Okay, so I'm not going to end the article there, because if this game has only one thing going for it - and honestly it does only have one thing going for it - it's that it features a good selection of characters, all of whom pull comically exaggerated faces of agony when shot. I'd like to show you some of them. Plus, there's a graveyard stage, and I can't leave without seeing that.


Whoever's in charge of this evil organisation can be commended for their commitment to gender equality: I'd say there's a roughly 50/50 split between male and female villains. Sure, all the women tend to be glamorous, "attractive" types - although the one in the top-right of the above screenshot looks as though she could do with a good night's sleep to really look her best - but it's a step in the right direction. The men don't score so highly on the good looks front. Take the fellow at the front here - a muscular body honed through an admirable dedication to physical betterment, but with a haircut that could have belonged to Heihachi Mishima in the punk rock years of his youth and a severe lazy eye that requires urgent ophthalmic attention.


After shooting enough enemies, the stage ends and you're shown some statistics. I thought hitting 78% of the enemies was pretty good, but Cyber Beavis disagrees and he's broken down into floods of tears. There's rather a lot of crying in this game, much of it from Cyber Beavis, who I'm really starting to dislike. I think it's his horrible gurning face.


Stage two is the airport, which is a lot like the docks only with an aeroplane instead of a ship. The enemies are different too, in appearance if not in form. This screenshot neatly captures my worrying tendency to subconsciously target the innocent. I  hit the ninja / ski-mask-wearing terrorist, which is fine, but I also blasted that Clark-Kent-looking son-of-a-bitch down at the bottom of the screen while managing to avoid the smiling assassin hiding in the tyres, 1920's Lady Gaga in the middle and Tank Girl over on the right.


For whatever reason - he's actually a robot, a sudden lightning strike, he was smuggling a car battery down his trousers - the ski mask ninja becomes electrified when you shoot him. You also have to shoot him twice to get rid of him where every other enemy only takes one hit to kill: I'm putting this down to the fact he isn't human. That is not a human skull.
Also worth calling attention to: middle-aged, uzi-wielding anime pirate on the left. What beautiful eyes he has!


My accuracy was a lot better in this stage, and Cyber Beavis is so pleased that his head has swollen and engulfed his whole body, leaving only his tiny legs to prop him up like a grotesque, bionic Mr. Potato Head. God knows what'll happen if I ever score 100% on a stage, he'll probably turn into nothing but a seven-foot-wide grinning mouth.


Stage three is the one I couldn't make out on the stage select screen, but now I'm here it's clearly a dilapidated, graffiti-covered building. And what a happy place it is! Everybody's smiling: beefy heavy weapons man, generic thug, generic thug (female ver.), they're all having the time of their lives. The lady at the bottom right isn't happy, because she's a hostage who just got an explosion to the face rather than the rescue she was hoping for. She shouts "I hate you!" when you shoot her, which is quite forgiving of her, given the circumstances.


None of the enemies in Crazy Fight are allowed to die with dignity, but the heavy weapons guy suffers an more ignominious fate than most because his clothes fall off when you shoot him. Like everything else in the game, the reason for this is never explained. Cyber Beavis must have just liked the look of him.



There's not much to say about stage four's factory environment and the villains hiding within. It's mostly beefy, well-armed chaps with large guns, plus that bearded fellow on the right who looks like the dad from an early eighties sitcom. Normally I'd question the developer's decision to show a flash of underwear on the recently-defeated female villain, but enemies fly off screen so quickly when you shoot them that I never saw it with the naked eye, so it's something the developers included for their own enjoyment.


Of all the hostages in the game, the only one that they bothered to tie up was the woman in the red blouse. I guess they realised that securing her arms wasn't going to stop her jumping out in front of the first bullet that came along and so they decided to leave everyone else unbound, saving time, energy and money on the rope budget.


Oddly, when you finish this stage there's a brief animation of someone chasing Cyber Beavis and throwing balls at his head. Have I mentioned that I have no idea what the hell is going on? I mean, our hero looks the type who deserves things being thrown at his head - perhaps that's how he got injured enough to need cybernetics in the first place - but this is a mystery to me. I think it happens when you shoot a lost of civilians during the stage, but if that was the case I'd expect it to appear after every bloody level.


Crazy Fight makes more of an effort to live up to its name with stage five, where you take on aliens aboard a space station. Nice Predator / Xenomorph hybrid on the left there. I think there's some mop DNA in his genetic code, too.
Something I did realise here was that there's more information about the evil mastermind behind Crazy Fight's shenanigans than I first though, because I'm pretty sure that's a picture of him next to the health bar in the top-right of the screen. I was so busy concentrating on the action that I ignored it at first, assuming it was a player two icon, but that bar goes down as you defeat enemies and once it's empty the stage is over, so there you go: all this madness is the work of someone with a massive facial scar and eyes so far apart he looks more goldfish than man.


Nice alien designs, though. Snakeoid is a bit bland, but otherwise a decent effort if somewhat constrained by the humanoid shape. I think my favourite is the purple robot dude in the middle. Is that thing sticking out of the metal part of his head another eye? I hope so, it means he can keep an eye on his comrade with the tentacle-mouthed torso-face. You can't trust anything with more than one mouth.
Despite this level having "DIFFICULT" written over it on the stage select screen, I think it's actually easier than the one preceding it because the aliens are so visually different from the human hostages, meaning you can identify and shoot them much faster. I know I got my highest accuracy rating yet on this stage.


"Ninety-nine percent," says Cyber Beavis, "A perfect score!" He's as bad at maths as he is at not making me want to punch his stupid face every time I see it.


Then, suddenly, the entire game is redeemed and justified. Vampire Frankensteins! Skull-headed jiangshi! Quavering priests poking out of abandoned wells! The final graveyard stage is exactly what I was hoping it would be and then some. Just check out this pistol-toting ghoul/witch:


Even the nun behind him looks like she's gazing upon his magnificent Halloween-iness with barely-restrained adoration, and I can't say I blame her. Actually, while we're on the subject of nuns, there's nothing in the bible about the divine punishment for accidentally fake-shooting a cartoon nun, right? I'm, uh, asking for a friend.


However, my very favourite thing about this stage is the expression the mummies make when you shoot them. Look at that poor sod, he didn't expect it to end like this when he crawled out of his sarcophagus this morning, and the look of complete surprise of his bandage mush made me laugh and laugh.
Alas, my trip to the cemetery was all too brief, and after a couple of minutes spent shooting monsters the stage ended and so did Crazy Fight.


Hey, what do you know: in the end Cyber Beavis did score.
Crazy Fight isn't a bad game, but then it's not much of a game at all: it works well, but the gameplay is so lacking in ambition that it would be almost impossible to get it wrong. Still, as a (very) short little reflex tester it's enjoyable enough, even if I wish it had put a greater emphasis on the craziness its title promised, with more stages like the last two. Then I look at that mummy's face again and, for a moment at least, I have to revise my opinion to ten out of ten, best game ever.

P.S. Did I mention VGJunk has a Patreon now?

4 comments:

  1. The title is 瘋狂快打, and the first character 瘋 isn't merely an "alternate" character. It's written in traditional Chinese, the official script that Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macao use as opposed to the simplified Chinese script used in mainland China.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, thanks for the information!

      Delete
  2. Man, I'll bet this guy and Steve from Street Combat would get along quite well:

    "You're a Cyber Beavis TOO?! I thought I was the only one! Huh huh huh huh, heh heh!"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They must be brothers, separated at birth!

      Delete

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