Burning Fight: A Singeing Review by Bobak!
So, what is Burning Fight? It's a Neo Geo game, yes. But what is it all about? Is it a game based on fire fighting? Is it another mindless fighting game? Or is it about fighting a urinary infection? Well, if you assumed it was another mindless fighting game, you were pretty darn close.
After playing Burning Fight, its heritage becomes apparent. Back in late-80s/early-90s while SNK was still planning the Neo Geo system, Capcom released their now classic side-scrolling beat'em-up, Final Fight (1989), which took arcades by storm with its vigilante street-fighting style and penchant for breaking random objects. It almost follows naturally that SNK decided to make their own version of Final Fight for the Neo Geo, and thus we have Burning Fight (1991).
Final Fight vs. Burning Fight, I guess they settled the potential lawsuit in Capcom vs. SNK
Sadly, the CPS-1 boards that Capcom used to run Final Fight (as well as other Capcom games including Street Fighter II) were a little better at pumping out graphics and sound than the early SNK games being used on the Neo Geo MVS system. This quality difference is particularly acute with Burning Fight, which -while not only paling in comparison to the original Final Fight, also is one of the less impressive Neo Geo games of the early releases.
Well, since the actual game and players look sue-ably close to Final Fight, the folks at SNK decided to change up the story a bit. The Capcom story involved ex-wrestler and current Mayor Haggar rescuing his daughter from a gang of street thugs in Metro City. Teaming up with Cody, a street-wise fighter (his daughter's boyfriend), and Guy, a Japanese fighting master, they wild romp through lots of enemies with plenty of nifty weapons. For the SNK rethread, we have Duke Edwards (who in the manual "holds the record for the most written NYPD violations while on duty") and Billy King ("He is popular with children and women but very brutal to mean bastards"), two NYPD detectives who follow a crime syndicate to Japan and team up with Ryu Saeba, a Japanese policeman/martial arts expert. The similarities between Duke/Cody and Guy/Ryu is embarrassing, at least SNK had the foresight to prevent a direct legal challenge by making Haggar/Billy physically different. To be quite honest, all these changes really did was make the SNK version a lot less interesting. Anyone who was in arcades during the early 90s remembers the introduction screens to Final Fight, no one remembers anything about Burning Fight until they see screenshots.
Drab, but passable. There is nothing spectacular about anything you will see in Burning Fight. There is nice harmony between all the colors, but sadly, the entire palette is rather muted. There are not very many enemies (not even many color variations: A hallmark of Final Fight rip-offs!), and the backgrounds are very uninspired. The only notable object is a piano you get to break open in level one. Other than that, not much else.
Chalk up another victim of the Neo Geo's early experimentation with "Sphero Symhony": The reason why music and SFX in older Neo Geo games sound like their coming from the end of a hallway. The music is mediocre and totally forgettable, but there are a few nice sound effects of gunshots, breaking things, and a few voices (although a few sound like the voice actor got too close to the microphone).
While there are difference in the way all three characters play in terms of speed and power, they are nothing substantial. One of the nice things about Final Fight was the seriously different techniques that each fighter used. Haggar, as a wrestler could do all sorts of fun grappling moves to devastate his opponents. Billy, as his Burning Fight counterpart, is stronger than the other player, but has no such selection of 'strong-man' moves. Each character in Burning Fight can do just about the same moves, only with a slight, strategically useless variation. Couple that with plenty of cheap hits (especially as your getting up), and you have a sub-par experience.
I remember playing this game a lot as a youngster in the arcades. Since our arcade had got rid of Final Fight, we thought is was a decent replacement. Now I have both Burning Fight and Final Fight's JAMMA board for my arcade machine, and the differences are painfully clear. Burning Fight just did not age well. I suppose if you are into Final Fight type games, this may be an option (especially because it looks so similar), but I would recommend looking at the Sengoku series for better quality side-scrolling beat'em ups.
Bobak!: has been researching the rise of parliamentary constitutional monarchy in the Kingdom of Lesotho. After initial research efforts at the University of Cape Town proved limited, he decided to move to Lesotho, living briefly in Mohale's Hoek before moving to the capital, Maseru. His hopes to eventually interview both King Letsei III and Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili. If you're interested in visiting this beautiful 'Mountain Kingdom,' Bobak recommends visiting the excellent Official government website as well as Friends of Lesotho and Lonely Planet guide.
More Reviews of This Game:
by Kazuya_UK - Courtesy of Kazuya's
Collection | Master
List | AES
Price Guide | MVS
CD Price Guide | Neo Store | Screenshots | Reviews | Home | Email