Between the likes of Marvel vs Capcom, Super Smash Bros and NEO GEO Battle Coliseum, suffice to say that it is characteristic of the crossover fighting game sub-genre to not take yourself so seriously. Put any worries about canon to rest, don’t sweat character balance too much, and just have a good time. SEGA’s one and only foray into the world of crossover fighters dropped twenty years ago today, and if it’s not immediately obvious that they’ve let their hair down, it will be once you unlock Rent-A-Hero.
Fighters Megamix bills itself as a crossover between the Virtua Fighter and Fighting Vipers franchises, two series which mean considerably less to your average Joe today than they did back in 1996. I remember when Masahiro Sakurai unveiled the Akira and Jacky Mii costumes for Super Smash Bros for Wii U, Twitter blew up with questions along the lines of “what the hell is Virtua Fighter?” Nevertheless, Fighters Megamix has carved its way into the libraries of many fighting and retro game fans in recent years, largely due to its outrageous roster.
Admit it. You know about this game because of the car. I don’t judge you. It’s been twenty years.
The good news is that behind the zany playable characters, there’s a fun fighting game keeping the stove hot. Fighters Megamix adopts the 4 button control scheme of Virtua Fighter 3, granting everyone the ability to evade while allowing VF characters to boast their VF3 movelists. This is especially cool since the game came to Saturn mere months after VF3 landed in Japanese arcades, meaning that players could practice commands and combos at home rather than paying an arm and a leg at the arcade. This is amplified by the game’s training mode, which features command training, something absent from VF until VF4 many years later. There are also Survival and Team Battle modes to complement the arcade ladders, altogether rounding out a good number of things to do if you don’t have a buddy to beat up.
There’s so much that’s peculiar about Fighters Megamix – why, for instance, did it never get an arcade port? The cart-based STV arcade board was nearly identical in architecture to the SEGA Saturn, and saw plenty of other Saturn exclusive fighters such as Virtua Fighter Kids or Final Fight Revenge. What is Deku? Why is Deku? Another oddity is the number of VF3 artifacts that wound up in the game. Siba’s stage is Wolf’s desert stage and his theme is Jeffry’s island stage theme. Makes me wonder if all this time when we were looking for the mythical VF3 Saturn it was right under our noses.
Luckily, despite the game’s growing popularity it’s still relatively affordable to pick up. It’s import friendly, so if you have the ability to play Japanese Saturn games, that’ll cut the cost even further. It plays fine with the Saturn pad, although to record some of the Virtua Fighter 3 combos I had to emulate the game since I found Akira’s dragon-lance too difficult on pad.
What’s your history with the game? Were you playing it back in ‘96? (Confession time – I wasn’t, but I was playing Virtua Fighter 2!) Will you revisit it to celebrate its 20 year anniversary?