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VALLEY WEEKEND | VIDEO GAMES

3 Fighters Not Worth 2 Bits--Much Less 32

New rigs offer double the power but half the fun when paired with disappointing games.

July 25, 1996|AARON CURTISS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

They may have doubled the power of next-generation rigs, but all too often game makers forget to double the fun. After a recent night playing a trio of awful fighters, I found myself truly appreciating the virtuoso playability of games like Virtua Fighter and Battle Arena Toshinden.

At their best, good fighting games are about the most fun a player can have in front of the television set. At their worst, they look and play a lot like Zero Divide from Time Warner Interactive, Resurrection from Acclaim and Street Fighter: The Movie from Capcom and Acclaim.

These three so-called games are a waste of shelf space and fail to measure up when stacked against offerings that take full advantage of the power and speed offered by rigs like Sega Saturn and Sony PlayStation.

These three titles give 32-bit gaming a bad name and threaten to scare away players looking for something new, something fun and something worth the three Ben Franklins they're expected to plop down for a next-generation machine.

Zero Divide at least has a novel story line, but even that fails to save it from itself. Picture a world in which digital networks become as common as phone lines. It is within this world that a group of hackers ferret out tons of classified information and threaten to release it to the world unless a series of mercenary fighting units are taken out.

*

You can guess what follows--a series of battles between various cyber-warriors. These warriors are actually pretty nice looking and move smoothly through some nicely drawn environments.

The problem with Zero Divide is the action. Or the lack of it, actually. Despite a 32-page instruction manual, there is not much to Zero Divide. The fighting action is pretty limited and repetitive. Special moves are tough to master and even then don't seem very special.

The same goes double for Resurrection. This sequel to Rise of the Robots, which itself was no prize, looks and plays too much like a 16-bit game to make anyone other than my grandma look twice.

At least Resurrection features some of the variation in fighting that Zero Divide lacked. It fell short, though, in appearance. Characters are small and the scenes are pretty fuzzy. Hardly what one would expect.

Another disappointing turkey was Street Fighter: The Movie. I like Capcom's Street Fighter series, but this one takes off on the film starring Jean-Claude Van Damme and Raul Julia. I never saw the movie, but if it stank as bad as the game, I pity those who sat through it.

The game starts with a very clear set of scenes from the movie, but then quickly falls into a routine that's all too familiar. One nice touch was the story mode in which the plot unravels as players progress from fight to fight.

But the plot is hindered by the tendency to tell the story in text rather than video. I know video takes a lot of disc space, but I find it extremely hard to believe that there wasn't room for it. The game sure didn't seem all that complex.

If game companies expect folks to drop their cash on 32-bit machines, they need to deliver games that justify the expense. If I can get the same thing on a PC, why bother with a PlayStation or a Saturn?

It's the games, stupid.

Staff writer Aaron Curtiss reviews video games every Thursday. To comment on a column or to suggest games for review, send letters to The Times, 20000 Prairie St., Chatsworth, CA 91311. Or send e-mail to Aaron.Curtiss@latimes.com.

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