|Review by||:||Ken Gagne|
With the advent of Mortal Kombat, gratuitous blood became the hallmark of popular fighting games. Capcom, the makers of the original Street Fighter series, has rarely fallen for this gimmick. Now they're taking another step in the opposite direction with Pocket Fighter, for the Sony PlayStation.
A translation of the arcade game, Pocket Fighter takes familiar characters from the Street Fighter, Dark Stalker, and other series and super-deforms them, as Capcom did in Puzzle Fighter. They do battle armed with hilarity in the form of scooters, cats, banana peels, and kites. Help comes as cameos from practically every imaginable Capcom character, from Mega Man to Resident Evil.
The fighting is fast and furious. The commands for basic attacks are shown on-screen throughout the battle; more complex maneuvers are simply variations on these. The focus is on not a complicated combo system but on strangeness.
During play, impact with opponents, chests, and clouds will cause gems of various colors and sizes to be tossed about. Their acquisition strengthens special attacks up to three levels, so as gameplay continues, characters become stronger at differing rates.
The graphics are cute and lively. Bizarre attacks appear without warning, and characters will suddenly don a variety of clothing in the middle of a lengthy and aggressive routine. There are only a few backgrounds, but they are loaded with more cameos and unexpected activities.
The music is equally energetic, suited to the background. But sound effects take the front stage as characters scream, shout, and charge about.
Compared to other Street Fighters, Pocket's controls are simplified. Only one each of punch and kick buttons exist, with special attack and taunt buttons. The punch, kick, and special can combine in various ways to produce throws, flash combos, and guard crushes. The configuration menu is not as quick and easy as usual, but is still manageable.
Pocket Fighter is possessed of twelve fighters, eight difficulty settings, and three game speeds, making the game available to many audiences. An "Edit Fighter" mode allows customizing and growing of any given fighter, but is dull.
Capcom has long been criticized for the constant retreads of old games. Pocket Fighter gives us familiar figures with a new look and in an entirely new style of fighting. It doesn't have the deep gameplay of other titles, but what it does offer is refreshing and entertaining.
This article is copyright (c) 1998, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.
Original publication: Sentinel & Enterprise, 10-Aug-98