Sonic the Fighters was originally released in the arcades in 1996 as Sonic Championships. It was a little known game that would later be released inside the Sonic Gems Collection that is widely available on both Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network.
When I was young, I had fond memories of going to the arcade and buying tokens to play this game. I even had the privilege of owning some random kid that ended up wasting 20-30 tokens in an attempt to get me off the machine. While Sonic the Fighters is fun, the game does contain quite a few flaws.
While this is called as an “HD” port of the original arcade release. In short all they did was up the resolution to be able to fit newer televisions, and even then looking at the graphics now they aged well in my opinion. The models look good for their time, and the atmosphere of the stages just works, unlike Sonic Battle for Game Boy Advance.
Sonic the fighters basically is a Sonic game. Right down to the style, and the characters. It has quite a cartoony-charm to it, especially when you look at how some of the attacks are performed. You can do basic punches and kicks and then you can flatten someone’s face or stomp on their foot. Your hands or foot get huge when doing this and you can even be crushed down to size and still throw little jump punches. You can spin dash your opponent and when he/she is knocked down you can do a jump spin dash and hit them while they’re down. You can defend yourself from attacks but it uses up your barriers. Which is unique for a fighting game. It makes it so you can’t always be playing defensively, making the game pretty fast paced. There is also a hyper mode you can activate. This mode puts a ring of stars around you and allows you to attack super fast, but it uses up your barriers so once the mode is over you are unable to defend. In all the game is really simple, but learning your characters and their special abilities is what makes the game fun.
The arcade mode consists of 8 stages and then a final boss stage. When you select your character you have a choice of two settings, automatic and manual. Automatic setting helps you preform attacks by just pressing punch or kick. For example, if I’m playing as Sonic with the automatic setting, if you are close to an opponent and punch then Sonic will do a simple punch combo. If you are at a distance, Sonic will do a spin dash attack with just a push of the punch button. Manual setting requires you to input the actual combinations to execute the moves yourself.
You can change the difficulty of arcade mode in the options. You can set the AI to either be easy or be hard, if the hardest AI setting still isn’t a challenge you can also change how much damage you receive from attacks, as well as how many barriers you have to use and if they recharge. While these are nice features the game is unforgiving no matter what difficulty you set it too. Just like most arcade games from the 90’s they were designed to be cheap and take tokens. My first play through on normal basically got me destroyed over 10 times by the final boss. Even then the last few fights before the final boss are hard too.
Online Versus has both the option to play rank matches or player matches. Pretty standard for fighting games. Unlike most fighting games that have trophies or achievements for doing certain accomplishments in ranked matches, you don’t have that here. So if you’re an achievement hunter you can basically write this mode off unless you want to play with friends or random people.
The charm of the game is the atmosphere. Each stage is from a different sonic game, and features music from the game it was taken from. Honestly, is there any time Sonic music ever let you down? Sound effects are also from the previous games. You have the jump sound, as well as the ring drop when you get hit.
There are a few downsides to the game which really bring down the quality of the title. The game has trophy and achievement support, which is standard for most download titles. The problem with Sonic the Fighters is you can easily 100% all trophies and achievements in less than 15 minutes. Trophies and achievements are usually set up to challenge the player. For example Street Fighter has a perfect match achievement, or a no lose achievement. You won’t find that in this game. You can seriously get all of the trophies in one or two play sessions, by just running through Arcade mode. They consist of just beating the stages on any difficulty. That’s right, any difficulty.
The game also has a few weird errors even for a game released by the creators of Sonic. For one, Dr. Robotnik’s name is spelled with a ‘c’ at the end. The game also features 8 chaos emeralds instead of the usual 7. It’s the kind of thing that would confused or make any true Sonic fan question the integrity of Sega. Also there are probably people who don’t know who Bean or Bark are, as they are characters made specifically for the game.
Once again Sonic the Fighters is fun game, but it is mainly for fans of Sonic. If you’re a fighting game fan, you might find the game to be a little boring for your tastes with the simplistic nature of the game and modes. I, myself, honestly enjoyed the game, but I don’t see myself trying to master everyone anytime soon. For a basic $5 download you get a solid port of a game with no added bells or whistles. So you have to give up quality for its low price point. So if you go in not expecting much you might be able to enjoy this old arcade game.
VGTribune gives Sonic The Fighters for PSN and XboxLive a 6.5 out of 10
This review was based off of self purchased copy of the game for the PS3.