Fighting Vipers
 

 
STORYArmstone City, year unknown. The Mayor decided to hold a fighting tournament with the grand finale being held on the top of the city tower, and the Vipers, young urban warriors decide to compete, each with their own goal on mind.
 
REVIEW
Lead by Yu Suzuki, the AM2 development team has been creating games for Sega since 1985. Virtua Fighter 2 was already a "genre defining" fighting game in arcades when AM2 decided to introduce Fighting Vipers, a completely new 3D fighter with a brand new cast. The arcade version of Fighting Vipers uses the Sega Model 2 hardware. The game was later ported to the Sega Saturn, but featured much lower quality graphics.

Fighting Vipers presents 9 original characters, each with their own unique fighting techniques. Fighting Vipers borrows quite a few core animations from Virtua Fighter 2, making it visually resemble its older brother quite a bit. I always considered that a good thing, because it gives Fighting Vipers a "recognizable" look and feel from the start. It's not a total clone, however, as Fighting Vipers features unique visual elements like particle & stage effects, which greatly differentiate it from VF and other 3D fighters.

The collision detection of Fighting Vipers is also highly exaggerated. For instance, some attacks will send opponents flying ridiculously high into the air, and others will knock them straight across the stage like a speeding bullet. On that note, the "ouch factor" of Fighting Vipers is pretty much off the charts. Attacks definitely hurt when they connect. The sharp, and (for lack of a better word) "crunchy" sound effects also add to the overall effect.
 

Watch out... Candy is jail bait!

 
While the characters of Fighting Vipers share a few techniques from the VF cast, they also have a variety of unique (and powerful) attacks that define them. Some of them fight noticeably "sloppier" than their VF counterparts, with "street fighting" seemingly taking prominence over properly executed martial arts (a la VF). Along with the fresh faces, Fighting Vipers offers some unique gameplay features, allowing it to stand out from Sega's trademark fighting series. Like in other "3D" fighting games of the early/mid 90's, there is so actual sidestepping in Fighting Vipers. However, after being knocked down, characters can "roll" into the foreground or background.

Each of the fighters wears their own unique combat armor, which can be broken off during the fight by certain powerful attacks. High and low parts of a character's armor can be broken off. If both parts of armor are broken, a character's life bar with turn red. If a character is hit when their armor is broken, they will be susceptible to greater damage than usual.

The game's 3D arenas are closed in by walls, caging the fighters inside... another element that the fighting genre hasn't seen thus far. Players can jump off of walls, knock each other into walls, and even grab & throw their opponents into the wall. Furthermore, if a powerful strike connects to K.O. the opponent, players can even knock their opponents clean through the wall at the end of a fight. I have to say... sending an opponent through a wall is quite a satisfying (and hilarious) experience. This effect was also considerably cool looking in 1995, definitely adding extra points to that "ouch factor" rating.

The basic control layout is essentially the same to the Virtua Fighter series, with one button for Guard, Punch, and Kick. This allows players familiar with VF to jump right in. Along with a respectable variety of attacks, throws, and combo-strings, the Fighting Vipers also have a few unique universal attacks. Each character can perform and launch attack that sends their opponent flying high into the air and allows for a follow-up attack or air combo. (On a side note, if you K.O. your opponent with a launch attack and they land perfectly on the top of the wall, they will hilariously be stuck there). It's one of the funniest things I've ever seen in a fighting game.
 

Bahn... A Jotaro Kujo cosplayer. He's awesome. 

 
All fighters can also execute powerful knock-back attacks, which auto-block for a brief period of time and sends the opponent flying backward if it connects. (These moves could actually be called "early Street Fighter IV Focus Attacks"). The trademark ground attacks and jumping attacks to a grounded opponent also return from VF (and are a bit overpowered if you ask me). The combo system fairly intuitive, and it isn't difficult send someone through a wall after a launching move (which is just too fun). Some stages even have "springboard" walls, which humorously sends the opponent flying miles away....

Fighting Vipers
' gameplay is considerably faster than VF2, and has more of an "arcade" feel rather than feeling like a fighting simulation. Quick air recoveries are possible, allowing characters to flip back onto their feet after getting hit. This opens up the door for a quick counter attack, but also may leave them vulnerable to their opponent's follow-up attack if they're not careful. For any player who likes Virtua Fighter but perhaps thought it was a bit "slow-paced," Fighting Vipers might actually appeal to them.

The Sega Saturn port of Fighting Vipers was graphically inferior to the arcade version, but offered new console-only mode like Training and VS Playback mode. The cast of Fighting Vipers later appeared in Fighters Megamix, where VF characters are selectable as well. The sequel, Fighting Vipers 2 was released in 1998 but was rare to see outside of Japan arcades. The console version of Fighting Vipers 2 was ported to Dreamcast only in Japan & Europe (and was cancelled in the U.S, sadly).

Page Updated: September 4th, 2014
Developer(s): Sega-AM2
Publisher(s): Sega
Platform(s): Arcade, Sega Saturn, Playstation 2, PS3 (PSN), Xbox 360 (XBL)
Release Date(s): 1995  (Arcade)
Aug. 30th, 1996  ()
Nov. 30th, 1996  ()
1996  ()
Nov. 27th, 2012  ( PSN)
Nov. 28th, 2012  ( XBL)
Characters Bahn, Candy, Tokio, Jane, Raxel, Picky, Grace, Sanman, Mahler, B.M., Kumachan, Pepsiman ( Saturn exclusive)

Featured Video:

Related Games: Fighting Vipers 2, Fighters Megamix, Virtua Fighter, Virtua Fighter Remix, Virtua Fighter 2, Virtua Fighter Kids, Virtua Fighter 3, Virtua Fighter 4, Virtua Fighter 4 Evolution, Virtua Fighter 5, Virtua Fighter 5 R, Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown, Last Bronx, Tobal No. 1, Tekken 2, Soul Edge, Street Fighter 4
  

Gameplay Engine  8.0 / 10
Story / Theme  7.0 / 10
Overall Graphics  8.5 / 10
Animation  8.5 / 10
Music / Sound Effects  7.5 / 10
Innovation  8.5 / 10
Art Direction  7.5 / 10
Customization  4.0 / 10
Options / Extras  8.0 / 10
Intro / Presentation  6.5 / 10
Replayability / Fun  8.5 / 10
"Ouch" Factor  9.5 / 10
Characters  7.0 / 10
BOTTOM LINE

 8.4 / 10

 Review based on Arcade version

 

Final Words:

Fighting Vipers doesn't take itself nearly as seriously as Virtua Fighter, which actually ended up being a good thing in the end. The super-exaggerated collision detection and "arcade" feel of the game definitely allows Fighting Vipers stand out in the world of 3D fighting games. FV offers an "edgier" 3D gameplay experience than VF, and was a respectable and fun 3D fighter in 1995/1996... Actually, after picking it up on PSN in 2012 (for a mere $5.00), I've been reminded how damn fun (and hilarious) the game is. (Possibly the best $5.00 I've ever spent.)

Fighting Vipers
never came close to the popularity or success of Virtua Fighter (or the other big 3D fighter at the time, Tekken 2). In my opinion, the cast of Fighting Vipers isn't as likeable or diverse as other fighting game rosters, which is probably why the series never caught the mainstream light. However, I'll admit the Fighting Vipers characters actually have more personality than those from VF. In closing, I think Fighting Vipers a rather fun (and downright hilarious) game if you give it a chance. Play it with fellow fighting game players for guaranteed good times and laughs. 
~TFG Webmaster
 

 
              
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