Written by and screenshots courtesy of SUPERNAUT
Imagine what Ultimate Fighting Championship would be like if made by SNK. Well you don't have to because there's Buriki One. It's spring 1999, fighters from across the world gather at the Neo-Tokyo Grapple Dome to compete in the World Grapple Tournament. Each contender has there own fighting discipline, ranging from the popular styles of Boxing, Karate, Judo and Pro Wrestling to the lesser known arts of Tae-kwon-do, Tai Chi, Muay Tai and Sumo. Finally the chance to prove which martial art conquers all!
Your first 5 minutes of Buriki one will be the most confusing you will ever experience in a fighting game within your life-time. To succeed in Buriki One you must forget the standard fighting game controls, there's no weak and strong attacks or even punch or kick buttons. Instead SNK have taken the standard arcade stick and button controls to new levels. Movement of the arcade stick performs all your characters attacks (punch, kicks, etc); special moves are accomplished by what is popularly termed as "charge moves" (holding the stick in one direction for a brief amount of time and then releasing it in another).
I bet your thinking "If the arcade stick attacks, then how do you move?", well the buttons had to be used for something. Buriki One only uses two buttons, pressing one advances you toward your opponent while the other retreats, pressing both will make your character block. This all may seem somewhat "backward" to begin with but given a little time it becomes 2nd nature.
The game places great emphasis on throws, grapples, pins and the ability to immobilize your opponent rather than just the standard strike attacks. Each character has a Balance Gauge (on the screenshots it's beneath the players, 1P bar is red, 2P bar is blue), this represents their center of gravity (the shorter the gauge the easier to throw). A small arrow travels across the bar illustrating which direction the character is forced toward. A second gauge appears when successfully performing moves such as holds, frantic button tapping is required to get your opponent to release you from there grip. Also there's no life bar, instead a heart monitor similar to that of Resident Evil takes it's place, should your player reach red your only one blow away from knock out. Players are divided into 3 categories; Speed (The all rounder), Power (strong but slow) and Technique (not to tough but has a complex range of throws and counters).
Matches take place within the ring and it's possible to remove your opponent from it however, this will only pause the fight momentarily while both players return to the center and fight on until a KO or time out is reached. In the event of a time out, three judges will decide the conclusion and this is were you really feel the tension and hope your hard work paid off.
In terms of the Hyper Neogeo 64 power, the board delivers an attractive combination of sound and graphics. Sure there's more powerful hardware on the market, but this game does everything it needs to. Character are composed of enough polygons to look "the business", animation is smooth, everything is at the boards highest resolution, a constant 60fps is achieved with real time shadows and texture detail is excellent. Only Warriors Rage out does this in terms of graphics on the Hyper (only just). Of special note is the ambient sound effects. Crowds cheer, boo, gasp, shout and scream to the action adding a real sense of immersion within the fight itself.
Buriki One is the total package. Every characters style of attack is unique rather than the punch/kick nature of UFC. All contestants except Ryo "AOF" Sakazaki are new to the SNK fan, giving the whole design of Buriki One has a really fresh feel. This game is SNK's best-kept secret and was a real surprise to me. In my opinion this does rate as a "must have" title, so if you need an excuse to buy a Hyper Neogeo 64 then Buriki One is it.
* There is rumor of a PSX version: http://www.gamedash.com/at/rv/arcv/burikione_000210/, screenshot on this page are from the snk japan website, from the arcade version, I've never seen a PSX version anywhere though. [Ed. Note: I think it may have never gone beyond the development stage]
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