I like Street Fighter a lot. I like it so much that I named this blog after the command to make Ryu or Ken throw a fireball. But strangely, I didn’t play it a whole lot growing up. Sure, I played it at friends’ houses, but I didn’t own a copy of myself, except for the not very good Game Boy version. What I did grow up with, however, is Data East’s infamous ripoff of Street Fighter, Fighter’s History.
It’s easy to dismiss Fighter’s History as just a clone of a much more successful game, because that’s exactly what it is. It follows the exact same structure as Street Fighter and even looks pretty similar. One of the characters, Mizoguchi, is a brown haired martial artist from Japan who wears a bandanna and throws fireballs when you do a quarter circle forward motion on the D-pad followed by a punch. He’s literally Ryu.
Despite all that, I actually like Fighter’s History quite a bit. Maybe it’s the nostalgia, since I did play a lot of it when I was younger, but I do think it’s a solid fighting game. In bad fighting games, you often try to input super moves only to see your character just thrown a kick or a punch, and then occasionally perform the move without any idea of what you did differently. In Fighter’s History, I could pull off all of Mizoguchi’s moves easily, and when I did screw up, I knew it was because I did something wrong. It’s a well made game, despite it’s redundant nature.
Like most fighting games, the main single player mode has you facing off against each character, including a match against yourself, in best of two fights. Each character has a stage associated with them based on their country of origin. All stages are effectively the same, but they look nice and all have objects that break if a character falls into them.
After beating all nine playable characters, you’ll go on to face the two boss characters. The first is Clown, who is a clown. The second is Karnov, the main character of another Data East game, Karnov, for some reason. On the default difficulty, I had no problem just plowing through the bosses, which is strange because most fighting game bosses are notoriously unfair. Here, they’re just two more fighters. Using a cheat code, you can even play as them.
One of the few things that sets this game apart from Street Fighter is the way you can make your opponent dizzy. In Street Fighter, to cause dizziness, you have to hit your opponent with several blows in rapid succession. In Fighter’s History, each fighter has an article of clothing that serves as their weak spot. For Mizoguchi, for example, it’s his headband. When that piece of clothing is hit, it starts to blink, and will blink faster the more it gets hit. Eventually, it’ll fall off and the character will be dizzy. I like this system, as you can actively see how close you are to getting dizzy, instead of getting locked into a combo and just praying that you make it out okay.
Fighter’s History is a game that gets more flack than it really deserves. Yes, it’s basically just off-brand Street Fighter. But unlike the dozens and dozens of fighting games that came out to compete with Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat back in the 90’s that we’ve all but forgotten about, Fighter’s History is actually a well made game. You don’t always have to have an incredibly original idea to be a fun video game.