Fighting Vipers

STORYArmstone City, year unknown. The Mayor decided to hold a fighting tournament with the grand finale being held on the top of the city tower, and the Vipers, young urban warriors decide to compete, each with their own goal on mind.
Lead by Yu Suzuki, the AM2 development team has been creating games for Sega since 1985. Virtua Fighter 2 became a "genre defining" 3D fighting game in arcades just a few years before AM2 decided to introduce Fighting Vipers, a completely new 3D fighter with a brand new cast. The arcade version of Fighting Vipers uses the Sega Model 2 hardware. The game was later ported to the Sega Saturn, but featured much lower quality graphics than the arcade version.

Fighting Vipers has 9 original characters, each with their own unique fighting style and abilities. Fighting Vipers borrows quite a few core animations from Virtua Fighter 2, making it visually resemble its older brother quite a bit. I always considered that a good thing, because it gives Fighting Vipers a "recognizable" look and feel for returning fighting game players. It's not a total clone, however, as Fighting Vipers features unique visual elements like particle and stage effects, which greatly differentiate it from VF and other 3D fighters.


Fighting Vipers character selection screen.


Perhaps the most immediately recognizable gameplay element of Fighting Vipers, one that makes it stand out from Virtua Fighter, is the
collision detection is highly exaggerated. Certain attacks will send opponents flying ridiculously high into the air, while others will knock characters straight across the stage like a speeding bullet. Visually, it's more extreme and arguably more exciting than Virtua Fighter. On that note, the "ouch factor" of Fighting Vipers is pretty much off the charts. Attacks definitely hurt when they connect. The sharp, and (for lack of a better word) "crunchy" sound effects also add to the experience.

Each of the fighters also wear their own unique combat armor, which can be broken off during the fight by certain powerful attacks. High and low parts of a character's armor can be broken off. If both parts of armor are broken, a character's life bar with turn red. If a character is hit when their armor is broken, they will be susceptible to greater damage than usual.  Like in other 3D fighting games of the early/mid 90's, there is no actual sidestepping in Fighting Vipers. However, after being knocked down, characters can "roll" into the foreground or background.

While the characters of Fighting Vipers share a few basic techniques from the VF cast, they also have a variety of unique (and powerful) attacks that define their designs. Some of them fight noticeably "sloppier" than their VF counterparts, with "street fighting" seemingly taking prominence over properly executed martial arts. Characters also have surprisingly deep movesets. How many moves each character has may surprise you. That said, the characters of Fighting Vipers were very ahead of their time in 1995.


Pepsiman breaks Picky's armor... in front of the Pepsi truck.

All of the
game's 3D arenas are closed in by walls, caging the fighters inside... another element that the fighting genre hasn't seen thus far. Players can jump off of walls, knock each other into walls, and even grab & throw their opponents into the wall. Furthermore, if a powerful strike connects to K.O. the opponent, players can even knock their opponents clean through the wall to finish a fight. (I have to say... sending an opponent through a wall is quite a satisfying and hilarious experience.) This effect was also considerably cool-looking in 1995, definitely adding bonus points to that "ouch factor" rating.

The basic control layout is essentially the same to the Virtua Fighter series, with one button for Guard, Punch, and Kick. This allows players familiar with VF to jump right in. Along with a respectable variety of attacks, throws, and combo-strings, the Fighting Vipers also have a few unique universal attacks. Each character can perform and launch attack that sends their opponent flying high into the air enabling a follow-up attack or air combo. (On a side note, if you K.O. your opponent with a launch attack and they land perfectly on the top of the wall, they will hilariously be stuck up there. It's one of the funniest things I've ever seen in a fighting game, and rather impressive attention to detail for back then.)


Time to Break 'em through the wall.


All fighters can also execute powerful knock-back attacks, which auto-block for a brief period of time and sends the opponent flying backward if it connects. (These moves could actually be called "early Street Fighter IV Focus Attacks"). The trademark ground attacks and jumping attacks to a grounded opponent also return from VF (and are a bit overpowered if you ask me). The combo system fairly intuitive, and it isn't difficult send someone through a wall after a launching move (which is just too fun). Some stages even have "springboard" walls, which humorously sends the opponent flying miles away....

Fighting Vipers
' gameplay is considerably faster than VF2, and has more of an "arcade" feel rather than feeling like a fighting simulation. Quick air recoveries are possible, allowing characters to back-flip onto their feet after getting hit. This opens up the door for a quick counter attack, but also may leave them vulnerable to their opponent's follow-up attack if they're not careful. Any player who likes Virtua Fighter but thought it was a bit too "slow-paced" might end up liking Fighting Vipers more.

The Sega Saturn port of Fighting Vipers was graphically inferior to the arcade version, but offered new console-only mode like Training and VS Playback mode. The cast of Fighting Vipers later appeared in Fighters Megamix (1996-1997), where VF characters are selectable as well. The sequel, Fighting Vipers 2 was released in 1998 but was rare to see outside of Japan arcades. The console version of Fighting Vipers 2 was ported to Dreamcast only in Japan & Europe (and was cancelled in North America, unfortunately).









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Page Updated: June 20th, 2024
Developer(s): Sega-AM2
Publisher(s): Sega
Platform(s): Arcade, Sega Saturn, PlayStation 2, PS3 (PSN), Xbox 360 (XBL)
Release Date(s): November 1995            Arcade
Aug. 30th, 1996           
Nov. 30th, 1996           
Nov. 27th, 2012               PSN
Nov. 28th, 2012               XBL
Characters Bahn, Candy, Tokio, Jane, Raxel, Picky, Grace, Sanman, Mahler, B.M., Kumachan, Pepsiman ( Saturn exclusive)

Featured Video:

Related Games: Fighting Vipers 2, Fighters Megamix, Virtua Fighter, Virtua Fighter Remix, Virtua Fighter 2, Virtua Fighter Kids, Virtua Fighter 3, Virtua Fighter 4, Virtua Fighter 4 Evolution, Virtua Fighter 5, Virtua Fighter 5 R, Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown, VF5: Ultimate Showdown, Last Bronx, Tobal No. 1, TEKKEN 2, Soul Edge, Street Fighter 4, Groove On Fight

Gameplay Engine  8.0 / 10
Story / Theme  7.0 / 10
Overall Graphics  8.5 / 10
Animation  8.5 / 10
Music / Sound Effects  7.5 / 10
Innovation  8.5 / 10
Art Direction  7.5 / 10
Customization  4.0 / 10
Options / Extras  8.0 / 10
Intro / Presentation  6.5 / 10
Replayability / Fun  8.5 / 10
"Ouch" Factor  9.5 / 10
Characters  7.0 / 10

 8.4 / 10

 Review based on Arcade version    


Final Words:

Fighting Vipers doesn't take itself nearly as seriously as Virtua Fighter, which in retrospect, actually ended up being a good thing. Fighting Vipers was ahead of its time. The exaggerated collision detection and "arcade" feel definitely made Fighting Vipers stand out in 3D fighting game genre. Vipers offers an "edgier" cast and very different 3D gameplay experience from Virtua Fighter.

After picking up the HD re-release of Fighting Vipers on PS3 (PSN) in 2012, I developed a new appreciation for the game... and was reminded how fun (and hilarious) Fighting Vipers actually is. I also didn't realize how deep the character movesets were... these guys were early TEKKEN characters in terms of interesting and deep moveset designs! 

Fighting Vipers
never came close to the popularity or success of Virtua Fighter (or the other big 3D fighter at the time, Tekken 2). In my opinion, the cast of Fighting Vipers isn't as likeable or diverse as other fighting game rosters, which is probably why the series never caught much mainstream attention. However, I think Fighting Vipers characters actually have more personality than those from VF. In closing, I think Fighting Vipers a very underrated, fun, and downright hilarious 3D fightinggame if you give it a chance. Play it with fellow fighting game players for guaranteed good times and many laughs.
~TFG Webmaster | @Fighters_Gen

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