Also On: PSN
Developer: Sega AM2
Years ago when Sega ruled the arcades, a little known fighter called Fighting Vipers was a diamond in the rough. Its over the top characters and lighting fast gameplay captivated players from the moment they put in that first quarter. Versions for the Sega Saturn and the Sony PlayStation (the latter being only in Japan) tried to bring that same fun and excitement to the home and, while great ports, never captured that same feeling. Now Sega brings this great fighter to Xbox Live Arcade and PSN, and this time they got it right!
You pick one of 7 fighters and battle through everyone (including yourself) to reach the Armstone City tower. There, the boss B.M. (or Big Mauler) will challenge you. Defeat him and you win the tournament. Not much of a back story is found here, but if you are playing this because you care deeply for the characters, you are playing it wrong. A few extra characters can be unlocked or found if you know where to look.
Vipers is a lot like Virtua Fighter in many ways but also adds some extra innovations not seen in other 3D fighters. One such innovation is body armor that each character wears. Damage taken in a fight is absorbed by the armor, thus reducing damage they take. The more hits the armor absorbs, the weaker it gets until one well placed hit (charged by holding a direction and attacking or completing a combo) can smash it leaving the opponent vulnerable. When either the upper or lower body armor is broken, the opponent will take more damage in that area when hit again. It adds some strategy to an other wise straight forward brawler.
Another innovation are the enclosed arenas where each fight takes place. right before delivering the knockout blow, you can smash your opponent through a wall or cage for a dramatic finish, by using the same technique for smashing their armor. The walls can also be used in battle for jumping off points, and also trapping or throwing an opponent against them for a little added damage. The added online play is stellar with no lag or dropouts of any kind, and there is also no shortage of opponents. This release features some added features that are fun to play with as well. Kids mode gives all the characters large heads and little bodies. Ranking mode gives you a grade when you finish playing, and Random mode mixes the order of your opponents. The methods for getting these modes can be found in the Achievement or Trophy listings, which are also easy to obtain. This is one game where you can gain all Achievements and/or trophy with just one 30 minute play through, it's a hunters dream!
While this game is a must own for fighting game fans or just fans of fun games, I do have one little gripe. The Japanese Sega Saturn release had one extra character, "PEPSIMAN" , a Japanese PepsiCo Mascot. Sadly he not included in this version, but I believe licensing issues prevented his inclusion. It's a downer, but not a reason to skip this release, besides there is always DLC (hint hint Sega). In the end, the fun, fast gameplay and incredibly cheap $5/400 MSP price makes this a must have. Don't even try the demo here, just download it, you will not regret it.