Insert Disk collects Fighting Masters for the Sega Genesis
Today’s retro game review is Fighting Masters for the Sega Genesis. This retro gaming classic is a retro game that may have passed many on us by. Being released on the North American Sega Genesis but not the European Sega Mega Drive means that it is becoming a rarity collect in the UK. Fighting Masters is a beat ’em up / fighting game where you play as one of a large roster of mythical Fighting Masters. Anything from dragons to man eating plants are up for the challenge. It’s low budget fun at its best.
Greetings collectors and welcome to today’s retro game review. I thought I’d bring a reasonably obscure 16-bit monster based fighting game to your attention today. Join me as I take a second look at Fighting Masters for the Sega Genesis. Usually I lead with saying that my 16-bit Sega collection is on the Sega Mega Drive. Sadly Fighting Masters never made it to our shores so this is a game I’ve had to import from the US. As such, this is a Genesis title.
For those of you wondering the Sega Mega Drive 1 and Genesis Model 1 are fully compatible, so importing and playing games is very simple. There are some minor differences around the power supply and variations of 50hz-60hz output. None of this will stop you playing a US cartridge on UK hardware though.So, Fighting Masters. What’s it all about? Well, if I had to sum the game up in a sentence it would be. An intergalactic wrestling tournament to save the galaxy, featuring an ensemble cast of mythical beasts.
In essence this is a fighting game that never really got much attention back in the day. Personally I think it’s a bit of gem. You are presented with a wide range of playable characters. Anything from a blue blob to dragons, boxing horses, carnivorous plants, cyborgs and this thing? It’s a rather eclectic mix of bright and colourful characters. Instantly this game put me in mind of a 16-bit version of Battle Monsters for the Sega Saturn. It’s got that same “it’s so bad it’s good” vibe to it. As with all standard fighting games you rotate through a roster of opponents. I found the some characters were much more useful than others. For instance, the griffon can fly and pick up the opponents whilst the dragon has a massive capacity to inflict damage.
The game is rather imbalanced. My experience was that the opponents didn’t necessarily get harder to defeat. It was more the case that certain opponents had a more effective skill set against others. In general the matches are very much throw away fun. There are some tactics that you can use. I found that stunning an opponent with a fast attack and then using a throw was the most effective when it came to causing maximum damage. This damage can be increased by slamming opponents in to walls or the edge of the screen. So by throwing an opponent in to the wall they will receive impact damage from the wall and their impact with the ground. If you use the griffon you can simple keep flying your opponents in to near certain defeat. I also found a bit of a bug or at least an exploit where you could pull off throws so close to the wall that you essentially scrape the opponent along the wall causing multiple wall damage to be taken.
In all I can’t defend that the combat it the best in a 16-bit fighter. It is most certainly over the top and fun though. To be honest though, that’s what I came for. It’s a fighting game that you can button mash a little, learn some basic strategy and enjoy simple to execute special moves. All in all Fighting Masters doesn’t disappoint. The real joy if this game comes from it all being a bit of a nonsense. I means really just look at what’s going on here. The character roster really makes this game what it is.
In terms of packaging sadly I don’t have a full set to show you. The box and cartridge are fairly standard for the Sega Genesis. From what I have seen the manual follows the same art style. What I miss more though are the trading cards. That’s right; this game originally came packaged with 12 cards. So is Fighting Masters worth hunting down? Firstly, if you are in the UK you may have a difficult time. The game is reasonably scarce as it is and wasn’t really known in this region back when it was released. As such there’s very few copies to go around. You will almost certainly have to connect with our friends over in the US to get hold of a copy. If you are over in the US the game is far easier to collect but finding mint condition with the trading cards can still be tricky.
Depending on your budget I’d say that Fighting Masters holds up very well. It’s bright, bold, fun to play and there’s never any pretence that it’s a Street Fighter clone. There’s no combos or finishing moves. Fighting Masters really does its own thing and it does it well. From the high energy specials to the screen scrolling slams Fighting Masters is one of those games that retro gamers can turn to for a 10 minute fix of fun.
It’s pure pulp gaming in the best way possible.
Anybody want to see a Cybory breakdance a Griffin?
There you go…