Besides arcades or SNK’s Neo Geo, fighting games were at their peak on the Sega Genesis in the early-to-mid 90s. Yesterday, I played 3 fighting games on my friend’s Sega Megadrive for most of the afternoon and it was awesome. It was the first time I’d played computer games for a prolonged time since another fateful afternoon fighting Misty in Pokémon Blue. However, this time I won fairly quickly.
Eternal Champions came out in 1993 as a way for Sega to get a piece of the fighting game pie. Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat already had the biggest slices so Sega wanted to create something unique to compete with. It was a rare game in that Sega created it from scratch rather than porting it from an arcade version.
Its uniqueness came from a deeper story, diverse characters, and features like weapons and force fields. Eternal Champions’s idea of finishing moves were called “overkills”.
After some time playing, I settled on a character called Slash. He was a prehistoric caveman, stoned to death by his people due to his intelligence and opinions. The gameplay was fun but not comparable to MK or SF. General reception was mixed when it came out in 1993 – some loved it, some found it mediocre. You can now play it on the Virtual Console and Steam (link in the heading above).
Fun fact: A spin-off game named Chicago Syndicate was released for the Game Gear in 1996. It featured Larcen Tyler, the cat burglar from Eternal Champions.
I’ve played Virtua Cop and Virtua Tennis but never Virtua Fighter. 2 came pre-loaded on the Megadrive and I was surprised it was there at all. I’d always associated the Virtua series with arcades, the Sega Saturn and the Dreamcast. But sure enough, Virtua Fighter was released on the Genesis in 1996.
It was originally an arcade game, released in 1994 and got a port to the Saturn in 1995. The Genesis version was 2D and didn’t have the same hardware power but it did a great job with what it had. Jacky was my fighter. One thing that threw me off was the ability to lose by going out of the ring which I’d never experienced before. That meant I had to time my jumps to avoid going off the edge. And learn how to block.
Fun fact: Yu Suzuki wanted to create a Virtua sports game after Virtua Racer back in 1992. However, due to a lack of capable hardware at the time, he ended up making a fighting game. By 1994, Sega had the power and released Virtua Striker that year and Virtua Tennis in 1999.
Mortal Kombat was a game I’d heard of but never played. It was violent and gory and notably so. But that didn’t hamper its gameplay. MK3 had a different story to the previous versions; this time you fought through different opponents to get to Shao Kahn and his bride Sindel.
The moves in MK3 were more advanced with a new ability to “run” as well as different forms of Fatalities. And Dan Forden returned as the dude who said “Toasty!” in the bottom right corner of your screen.
Jax was my guy and when I say my guy, I mean MY GUY. We went through thick and thin, amassing victory after victory against my friend. I tried other characters but none of them were as potent as him. He had metal bionic arms and reminded me of a mix between Anthony Joshua and Booker T during his Harlem Heat days.
Fun fact: Jax was originally named Kurtis Stryker in 1992 and officially added into Mortal Kombat II but he was renamed “Jax” during development.
Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, and even Tekken reign supreme in one-on-one fighting game standings. But there are plenty of alternative titles to choose from if you get bored or want to try something new. I’d definitely recommend the Virtua Fighter series for some nostalgic – albeit archaic – 2D/3D action. Eternal Champions is a unique part of the fighting game family and one that might surprise you. And MK3 is MK3. Blood, gory, and toasty uppercuts.
Which one is your fave? Let us know in the comments.