Review #1 by John T. Carr III
It takes a lot of guts to bring out a coin-op fighter in Japan that is even marginally different from the "Big Three": Capcom's Street Fighter series, Sega's "Virtual Fighter", and Namco's "Tekken". The odds are it will only be moderately successful. Taito, a company better known on these shores for its godlike shooters and puzzle games, has managed to beat the odds twice over: the first, with the highly inventive Psychic Force (which presently has a sequel out entitled Psychic Force: 2012), and the second with the extremely deep Fighter's Impact.
"Hold it," I hear some of you saying. "This game is DEEP? It's a derivative eye-candy Tekken wannabee!" Personally, I don't think so. I know a lot of people who hold that opinion of it. Yet, I also find it interesting that everyone who's tried it and given it more than a cursory glance has gotten hooked on it. Let's take a look at why.
Gameplay: "The game's only got twelve characters." Wrong. The game's got 28 characters. (Well, 29, but Dr. Wiz is unplayable.) Unique Gameplay Feature #1: Each of the eight main characters fights in one of three styles (one main, two subs) that you can select at the beginning of play. Each style (based on actual fighting styles such as Aikido, Pa-Kua Kung Fu, *actual* Pro Wrestling moves, etc. - and faithfully motion-captured) has tons of moves. So, Kaede's Aikido isn't getting you anywhere? Switch to her Taekwondo or Pa-Kua. Hornet's wrestling moves are being continually reversed? Street Fighter time! (And since I bring it up, moves can be reversed, side-stepped, avoided in toto, done from the back, side and front - I mean, who do these Taito people think they are, Square?! ;-)) This makes for twenty-four unique fighters added to three sub-bosses and one boss.
"There are no real combos/special moves in this game." Wrong. Unique Gameplay Feature #2: Taito's motion slide combo system, which allows you to link punches as they hit. This means you can quite literally create strings that are not only original, long, and deadly, but *make sense* given the style. One dedicated fan I know of has managed to duplicate almost *all* the Karate training katas using the Combo De Mambo feature, not to mention the Japanese fan whose "War Dance" for Faraha made the Nov. issue of Tech Playstation.
Which brings us to Unique Gameplay Feature #3. Like their release of Psychic Force, Taito added a lot of extras and Easter eggs to the home version (my personal favorite is the stick figure fight, although Silene, Barbie-doll size in her "alternate outfit" comes a close second). The one that puts this above the home console fighting game pack (which gets released after you win a game) is the "Combo De Mambo" system, which allows you to build your own combo, test it out, tweak it till the timing's perfect, save it to your memory card, and use it in the game!
"It's button-masher friendly." Only to a point, said point being Unique Gameplay Feature #4: a switchable option feature which will cause your character to freeze and leave himself wide open IF you try the same move more than twice in succession. In short, cheese only gets you so far in this game. All Tekken and Street Fighters addicts take note.
Music: Exactly the same as the arcade, which is done by those wizards, Zuntata. 'Nuff said.
Graphics: At 60 fps, it moves fluidly with next to no pop-up. Given different outfits, there may or may not be problems with meshing polygons, but not to the point where it distracts from the game. The arenas range from square to round to enclosed to infinite. You get the gamut, given the fighters involved.
So - does FI deserve a spot in every fighting gamer's library? I think so, but as always YMMV. I think it definitely deserve more than the cursory look most fighting fans will give it.