When you think of the N64 you don’t really think of fighters…well besides the obvious one. The most memorable are perhaps the ones with the biggest franchises like Mortal Kombat and Killer Instinct.But the N64’s best fighter has to go to Genki and Imagineers joint venture Fighters Destiny. Sure it may not be much to look at but it stills offers, even to this day, fun and enjoyable combat and a rather unique take on point distribution.
The cast features a selection of 9 polygonal fighters (with an additional 5 to unlock) from right across the world. To name a few, Valarie originates from Germany and is a skilled aerial combat specialist, chunky Mongolian Abdul makes a great all-round and the French Clown Pierre (my personal favourite) uses a deceptive range of skills. The toughest thing about this game was the way in which you obtained the additional characters. For training dummy Rob you had to complete time attack mode in under a minute and hailing from Russia was Joker (hate how hard this guy is) who required you to take on 100 characters consecutively before you could play as him. Unfortunately the characters are just a bit too bland and uninspired. Just look at Ryuji who’s a blatant rip-off of Street Fighter’s Ryu just minus the blue fireballs.
Now let’s get onto what is essentially Fighters Destiny’s biggest selling point; it’s scoring. Most fighters follow the standard best two-out-of-three setup which is decided by depleting fighters health meter. This fighter instead asks players to obtain a total of 7 stars to be crowned the champion and no that doesn’t mean you have to KO your opponent that many times. If it did matches would become incredibly tedious. What this game does is reward players for the way in which they knock out their opponent. Hit your opponent out of the ring and you get one star, finish them off with a throw and you get two stars, a normal knock out is worth 3 and manage to pull of one of the tricky specials and you get the maximum of 4 stars. This method meant you could have multiple strategies to win.
Fighters Destiny only utilises a two attack button setup with a dodge and evade on the shoulders. Using the D-pad (that’s the default) you can pull off quite a surprising range of moves but it still feels rather limiting. For a controller that has 6 face buttons it’s baffling why they didn’t take advantage of this setup. Forget your fire balls, stretchy limbs and ridiculous jumping heights you’ll find none of that here, this is a much more realistic brawler with its hand-to-hand combat style. Punch, kick and suplex your way to victory! Reducing an opponent’s health bar to zero doesn’t knock them out, it instead puts them into a dazed state (Piyori state). One slight knock in this state bags you a 3 star knockout but why settle with that when you can attempt a special technique worth a whopping 4 stars. The problem with this is the opponent can still move to a degree to avoid your strikes plus take too long and they’ll fully recover their health. Throws also introduced a neat feature in which you were given a short period to escape them and counter with your own throws which brought in an almost wrestling like element to it. It also meant that using throws wasn’t any easy win.
Unfortunately this fighter lacks very many modes to play. There’s your standard arcade mode, (VS com, which has zero story) multiplayer (VS battle) and training but beyond that you only have two additional modes. Record mode consists of three challenges which, if completed, rewards players with additional characters but be prepared for the frustration they bring. When I played this as a kid I managed to obtain the dancing cow Ushi (the easiest to get) after hours of sweat and toil. Digging this game out now after a decade, with a lot more years of experience at fighters, I felt confident I could finish off the full roster. However after several hours all I managed to do was hurl abuse at the cast and feel the desire to hurl my controller through the television. Fighters are notorious for the number of unlockables they contain from fighters, arenas, songs, costumes and so on but what about unlockable moves. It was a nice novel idea; by playing through “Weapon Master” mode you could increase the set move list of your characters, provided you had a game card to save them to.
Arenas are all essentially the same, a box large enough to throw some one off surrounded by a flat picture to represent some part of the world with some floating objects and lighting thrown in. They’re okay to look at but you won’t find anything too spectacular. The background soundtrack is very enjoyable, it may not have the most memorable soundtrack but they’re fun in the moment and great tone setters. As for the audio you get some decent, meaty punch effects. The announcer along with the rest of the cast however are a little on the dull side and there’s an awful muffled effect. That said after all of these years I couldn’t help but smile at all of the cheesy cries from the announcer “that was an amazing move” or Pierre’s character select cry of “don’t look down!”
Fighters Destiny is still to this day only available on the N64, no ports and no retro downloads. While that is a shame you’re not missing much. The fighters are more polygon than man, the graphics are lacklustre and there’s a lack of modes compared to other fighters at that time. That said it still a solid well rounded fighter with gameplay that is still frighteningly addictively fun and that star point is so superb, it’s a wonder why no one’s tried their hand at it again. Perhaps this is more one for fans to kickback and reminisce over.
This Retrospective Review was originally published on the site GamersFTW which unfortunately has now been taken down.