Tonights episode: Fighting Vipers, special guest star reviewer: James Reader.

Because I've been brought up on the Street Fighter series of games I've always found most of the Virtua Fighter series moves to be, well, boring. Not so with AM2's new release Fighting Vipers! Fighting Vipers is clearly based on the Virtua Fighter games, using the main control buttons guard, punch and kick. However, Fighting Vipers adds to the Virtua Fighter by including walled in arenas, armour, faster gameplay and outlandish moves.

With its hundreds of moves, Fighting Vipers is just as complex as Virtua Fighter 2, perhaps even more so due the inclusion of walls and armour, but somehow it's easier to play. I think this is because timing is not as important as the Virtua Fighter series.

The graphics are disappointing. After the high-res graphics of Virtua Fighter 2 and Athlete Kings, switching back to a lower resolution does seem like a step backwards. The graphics also seem to suffer when compared to Virtua Fighter Remix - the textures don't seem to be as detailed. Nevertheless, Fighting Vipers does have more to shift around and does feature light sourcing. Although the light sourcing is not always apparent it does look absolutely stunning on Jane's stage. The character animation is faultless.

The Saturn version is stuffed with extras not found on the arcade machine. A handy training mode lists and demonstrates all of the moves allowing the player to copy. Three versions of the Fighting Vipers are included - the original arcade version, an all new arranged version (much like Virtua Fighter 2.1), and an exclusive Hyper version which features new moves and allows the player to break-off their armour and perform a series of special moves at hyper speed (much like the custom combos of Street Fighter Alpha 2). Matches can also be saved to back-up memory and replayed at any time. And there's plenty of secrets waiting to be discovered.

Don't let my comments about the graphics put you off buying this - it really is the greatest Arcade to Saturn conversion yet! In fact, with all the gameplay and lastability tweaks and additions it's better than the arcade!

Graphics: Disappointing, but by no means poor - 82%
Sound: Most tunes are forgettable - 76%
Playability: Outstanding! Unbelievable with two players! - 95%
Lastability: Three versions, all new moves, playbacks, training mode and more! - 96%

Overall: It's better than the arcade - 93%


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