Also On: PSN
Developer: Sega AM2
Seldom seen outside of Japanese arcades, Sonic The Fighters is a 3D fighting game with Sonic and his pals just beating the tar out of each other to save the world. If you've never heard of this little fighter, you would not be alone. Except for a quiet Nintendo GameCube release back in 2006 (and PS2 in Japan), not many players got to see this one. Now Sega has released Sonic The Fighters for Xbox Live Arcade and PSN, and this time they added a few extra features that were not even in the arcade version.
Sonic The Fighters is a strange little fighter that materialized seemingly out of boredom. While working on Fighting Vipers, an AM2 programmer became listless and added Sonic the Hedgehog and Tails as playable characters. The creator of Sonic, Yuji Naka, and AM2's Yu Suzuki loved it so much that they came together to create a fighting game based around Sonic and his pals. One year later, Sonic The Fighters was born.
Like all other Sega AM2 fighters, the premise is simple. Choose one of the 8 selectable characters from the Sonic universe, and pummel each other until you win. Winning a fight awards you a Chaos Emerald, and it's on to the next battle. Unlike other games in the Sonic Series, there's no storyline or catastrophe to prevent, (or human princesses to rescue, thank goodness) it's just fast paced fighting until you are king of the hill. There is no blocking here, just a limited amount of Barriers that can protect you from damage. Once you run out though, you are helpless and can be knocked out quickly, so don't rely on them much. There are two endings to shoot for, a bad ending for not defeating Dr. Eggman quick enough, and the perfect ending for completing the final fight in under 15 seconds. It's not really hard to see both endings since the gameplay is rather simple button mashing. The hardest fight you will encounter is with Metal Sonic, which seems to be the only fight that takes strategy to win.
Some extras can be found in this new release. Online play is included and is really fantastic. Though the amount of opponents is lacking, every fight was fluid and lag free. Dr. Eggman and Metal Sonic are playable from the beginning, but are hidden in the character selection screen. Since no special code is needed, hunting around will reveal them easily. One addition that wasn't found even in the arcade version is the character of Honey the Cat. Originally planned as a secret character, she was removed from the arcade and GameCube versions. Sega decided to include her in this release to add some extra replay value.
If the last few Sonic games left you feeling ill, then playing a game where you can pummel him and all his pals may seem refreshing. If you are a Sonic fan, then you may not like this drastic turn. Fighting game fans will find the game interesting for a while, but it won't likely hold your interest for long. Sonic The Fighters may be simple and easy to play, but it's too obscure to ignore. The cheap price and overall strangeness of the title is good enough to warrant a purchase.