|Review by||:||Ken Gagne|
In the short lifetime of the Nintendo 64, several companies have attempted to capture the position of "the best fighting game available." Except for Nintendo's own Killer Instinct, all have fallen short in one area or another. Ocean brings us a new contender, Fighters Destiny.
Those looking for a traditional 3D fighting title will not find it here, as Destiny is unique in its battle format. The goal is to score a set number of points against each opponent, by knocking them down, tossing them out of the ring, or performing special moves. The fighters have energy bars, but their depletion only weakens the contestants without defeating them. A single well-placed move can bring defeat, creating battles that often average from two to ten seconds. The point value assigned to each victory method can be set by the player, a great feature for customizing the rounds.
There are ten fighters, each with a variety of moves. These are no weapons, as in Last Bronx, or mystical fireball-type moves, like Street Fighter. Kicks, punches, and wrestling holds are their repertoire, and more moves can be learned by progressing through the game.
The documentation is sparse, and does not provide a list of any moves for any characters. Such information can be found in the game itself when paused, but many players prefer a hard copy for reference.
Each round takes place on a raised platform. The scrolling backgrounds look great, but are so set apart from the action that they are rarely noticed. The fighters themselves are polygonal, and often lack any distinguishing characteristics. Since there are no special moves, there are also no special effects. The level of detail in Killer Instinct is better, but there is little to complain about in Destiny — what's there gets the job done.
The music is decent. It is neither tinny nor repetitive, and is fitting for the countries in which each battle occurs. But again, compared to the excellent soundtrack of Killer Instinct, Destiny is only average.
An announcer follows the action, doing a great job of announcing each round, but his in-battle comments could stand to be trimmed down (throw a punch, get a "That was a great move!"). At least he sounds sincerely enthusiastic.
The control is simple, so learning the various combinations to pull off moves is not difficult. There is one punch and one kick button, and an interesting "Hirari" mode. When holding this button, the fighter will automatically avoid some attacks, but become more susceptible to others. This also allows moving in and out of the 3D ring.
There are several styles of play, including rodeo (battle an invincible cow as long as you can without losing), master challenge (attack the master to learn new skills), and three practice modes. Couple this with options such as variable ring size, points per victory method, and difficulty setting, and Destiny can be a match for any level of player, as well as supplying a good deal of replay value.
Fighters Destiny is a fun, innovative title. It rises above the garbage currently available for the Nintendo 64 title by offering a new type of fighting experience altogether. If it had some better graphic effects – maybe adjustable camera angles, or cinematic-style finishing moves — and an ear-popping soundtrack, it would have it all. Without these things, Fighters Destiny's fate is to be the best of a mediocre bunch.
This article is copyright (c) 1998, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.
Original publication: Sentinel & Enterprise, 16-Feb-98