Review: Finally, a REAL Fighting game for the N64
Face it; Fighting Games are not the N64 strong point. Instead of Quality games like Street Fighter and Tekken, the 64 has many "quality" games like Dual Heros and the craptastic War Gods. But now, there's Fighters Destiny. A totally Original fighting game brought to you by the good people at Imagineer, who are also the people responsible for their less popular title, Quest 64.
You see the first visuals of the game as soon as you turn on the N64. You will find 2 of the fighters battling it out, punching an kicking each other with speed, power, and skill, in a flashy intro, which looks cool. Fighter's Destiny isn't exactly the best looking game on the market, but it isn't exactly the worst looking one either. The background graphics are plain, but they're decent, and do the job. But the characters are incredibly detailed. Their clothes Flutter in the wind, their hair swishes around, hell, they even blink. The characters animate superbly. Their moves look like something you would see in a Jackie Chan movie. They hunch over when kicked in the gut, they stagger when badly hurt, and they sort of bounce when you slam them onto the floor. Each player shows off with one of his/her cool looking winning poses when they win. There are plenty of special effects in Fighters Destiny, every time you punch your opponent sparks fly from the contact point, and when you execute a special move, man, there's enough energy flashing to give you a seizure. Although the graphics are a bit blurry, Fighter's Destiny makes up for it by keeping everything running at a super smooth framerate.
The audio in Fighters Destiny is quite good, but not memorable. By the time you've finished the match you will have forgotten the tune. Don't expect a soundtrack. The Sound effects are pretty good. Punches and kicks give a hefty THUD each time they connect, which leaves you knowing you've successfully landed the blow. Smash them with one of your special moves, and you're treated with a huge explosion. Each of the characters has their own personal voices, and though they don't really say much, it's enough. Some of them grunt and make battle cries while fighting, some of them taunt a lot, but my favorite has to be the joker, who laughs hysterically and brags all throughout the match, which can get your friends really irritating. The announcer is decent, but has some pretty cheesy lines, eg. "That was a very good move!" and "yeah, party on!". Not exactly the best announcer ever.
Now, gameplay is where Fighter's Destiny really shines. Instead of the "beat the guy up till he's dead or knocked out of the ring" method, FD has a totally original concept. The aim is to get 7 points (which are counted in stars), and to earn those stars you must defeat your opponents in different ways. This is actually how karate and judo competitions work, boys and girls, so you might actually learn something from this game. Here is some of the more important ones:
Throw Down, 2 points - Basically, if you execute one of your throw moves, and it works, you get 2 points, but it can be easily countered
Knock Down, 3 points - Perform one of your flashy special knock down moves, and you get 3 points
Ring Out, 1 point - The basic ring out, where you make the guy fall off the edge, but this is the cool thing, if you're hanging on the edge, you can actually pull your opponent down instead of you! How cool is that?
Special, 4 points - Beat up your opponent enough, and they'll be in Piyori Condition.
The controls in Fighters Destiny are easy to use and master. There are no set punches and kicks, just high and low attack buttons. There is a block button, and a Hiari (auto-avoidence) button, which, when pressed, will automatically dodge high and low attacks for you. This system works surprisingly well, and when you combine them all, you'll be pulling off combos with ease.
Fighter's Destiny is packed with features. There are heaps of characters, as well as secret ones, for you to master and take through all the game modes. But as well as having different moves, these characters have different abilities, and stats. For example, there's the all rounder, Ryuji, (rip-off, I know) who's the standard fighter, average health, average strength, and a bunch of flashy moves, then there's Tomahawk, the all-American strong dude, with lots of health, but he's slow as hell. And then there's Valerie, the babe of the game, who's lightning fast, (it seems all girls in games are) but has minimal health, and she specializes in aerial attacks to keep on juggling those guys. Other than the normal versus and two player modes, Fighter's Destiny also includes 4 different and entertaining options.
There's also Survival, where it's kill or be killed as you try to power your way to the top beating as many opponents as you can without dying. Then there's the time trial mode, where you take your character and try and beat 4 of the most difficult characters in the game in the quickest time possible. The Rodeo is another option, where you're stuck in the ring with a cow, (yes, not a bull, a cow) and instead of beating him, the aim is to stay in the ring for as long as possible. Probably the most useful mode of all, is the Master challenge, where you take the character of your choice, through a wild training session, where you spin a wheel which determines whether you fight the Master, or the Joker. Fight the Master and win, and your character gains a new move. Fight the joker and lose, and all the skill your character learnt will be gone, and the game is over.
Fighters Destiny uses all the N64 hardware except the RAM pack, because it wasn't out yet, obviously. The game uses the memory pack to save character and game data, like players who have gained skills in the Master Challenge. Fighters Destiny makes excellent use of the Rumble pak. Every punch that hits you results in different strengths of rumbles, depending on what kind of attack it is. The best thing is that some characters have "Mental attacks" which are pretty pointless...unless your opponent has a rumble pack. Performing mental attacks will cause your rumble packs to go completely whacko; it will practically fly out of your hands! Excellent moves to perform on people who constantly use rumble paks.... Fighters Destiny has a 2-player mode (what fighting game doesn't?) but it has 2 types. The normal one, where two people go head on in the delicate art of beating the crap out of one another, and then there's the Win or Lose mode, where you use your characters which have gained skills in the master challenge, and you put your moves on the line. Whoever wins, gets one skill. In this mode you can earn your 9th skills that you can't get by just playing the master challenge.
The replay makes FD not one of those games you'll be putting down soon. With 3 difficulty levels, 5 different single player modes, 5 different characters to earn, and a total of 9 characters (not including secret ones) to do it all with, Fighters Destiny is one game that's full of lastability, and challenge. It takes REAL skill to get the Joker as a playable character, for you need 100 straight wins in a row in the survival mode. And even when you do get everything in the game, you'll keep coming back to it, cause it's simply a joy to play. Even though I had DK64 and JFG to play and finish, I found myself coming back to FD a LOT.
Overall, I thought Fighters Destiny was an excellent game. Even though the graphics are a bit drab, Flashy moves, great animation with a slick framerate, Lots of options, and great gameplay make this game a welcome addition to any N64 owner's collection. Especially the N64 fighting freaks like myself. For those who aren't so ecstatic about fighters, I suggest a rental first, but to everyone else, buy it. You won't regret it.