Gamestyle Archive intro: with 3rd party support struggling for the Dreamcast already into its short lifespan, Sega had to pull a few limited arcade conversions to fill the release schedule. Easy to port due to the hardware at times it felt like you were paying over the odds for a basic arcade title.
Published: February 2001
VERSION: JAP DC
GENRE: Arcade Beat-em-up
ACCESSORIES: Rumble, Arcade Stick and VMU.
RELEASE: Out Now, Rest of World TBA
Sega unlike Nintendo cannot be criticised for plundering their back catalogue of titles to extreme measures. The arcade version of Fighting Vipers 2 appeared in our arcades way back in ’98 but since then no doubt the AM2 teams have been occupied with Shenmue. Viper plays like another other AM2 fighting title (Virtua Fighter) which basically means it’s not as immediately accessible as Soul Calibur or Tekken Tag and requires some practice. It is strange to consider that apart from Virtua Fighter 3, Sega has not released another beat-em-up for the Dreamcast, particularly with its collection of possible titles – Spike Out or Last Bronx for example.
The original Fighting Viper appeared on the Sega Saturn when the first 3D (almost) fighters were starting to appear such as Virtua Fighter and Tekken. It was very much and still is a unique futuristic Japanese fighter that has inspired many titles since such as Dead or Alive and Bloody Roar. Perhaps too much of an oddity now to be commercially viable in the west, which is a shame as it’s a solid fighting title and good fun.
The number of characters available is quite limited in comparison to the previously mentioned games however the outrageous designs more than make up for it. Each character wears colourful and distinctive armour and this affects the fights as obviously no armour means more damage. The armour level is displayed by a bar and is reminiscent of the weapon gauge from Soul Edge. The characters themselves are very distinctive (almost transformer like) with their multicolour costumes and most will carry a weapon on their back, its just a shame there are only twelve. These weapons can be used in special moves however as weapons go, these are unique! For instance Raxel has a Spinal Tap guitar, Picky (skateboard), Charlie (BMX) and my favourite Emi, who has a teddy bear with laser beam eyes!
The game play is solid enough with plenty of moves available and the armour adds depth and strategy. You fight in enclosed arenas similar to Dead or Alive and by using power moves or Super KO’s you can blast your opponent through the barrier resulting in a special and spectacular sequence. It’s a shame that AM2 could not incorporate a fourth button to add a side step or counter move giving the game more of a 3D feel. The arenas themselves are a huge disappointment as they look flat and the textures are dull, there are no background movements which is unfortunate as the Dark Royal Hanger or Deck would have been ideal especially when you consider what Virtua Fighter 3 offered two years ago i.e. subway train. Everything moves at 60fps but I would expect no less as it is the Dreamcast standard.
Fighting Vipers 2 has a sparse selection of options to choose from such as single or two player, random, survival and training modes. We must mention how poor the training mode is in comparison to other fighting games; you cannot view a list of your characters’ moves making the training mode pointless. AM2 did at one stage plan to include an online fighting option but this has been reduced to a high score board, typical of so many Dreamcast games. Apparently they could not overcome the slight delay which would render the mode pointless. There are no extra costumes to collect, story modes to complete or VMU games to play – it is just a basic, no-frills arcade port.
Overall even the fans of the original will feel let down by this Dreamcast conversion. While the fighting basics are good the game play hasn’t moved on or evolved like other games in the genre. The lack of modes, hidden extras (no Pepsi Man) and standard graphics (except the characters) is a real disappointment. Perhaps AM2 had little development time between Shenmue 2 and Virtua Fighter 4 but they could have done a better job. I can’t help but think that the Fighting Vipers 2 should have been included in one of the proposed Sega Arcade multi-packs as its value and appeal is quite limited.
Not bad – but little effort on the conversion by AM2. Overall 4/10