Burning Fight (1991) by SNK
System:Neo Geo/Arcade
Game Type: Beat-em-up
Players: 1-2

Review by PrimeOp

In a normal review, there'd be a short blurb about the game's plot. Unfortunately, Burning Rival doesn't tell you what it's about in the intro or ending. I can only guess that street-brawling Duke, ninjitsu artist Ryu and leather suit wrestler Billy fight to rid the unnamed city of Boss Casterora criminal empire. Just a guess.

Burning Fight is a beat-em-up by SNK that seems created to cash in on the post-Final Fight side-scrolling brawl craze. The controls are mostly typical for beat-em-ups of the time period with an attack button and a jump button but has a Middle (stronger) attack button since Neo Geo machines already have 4 buttons there beggin to be utilized by programers. Rapidly tap Attack for combos, press Attack after pressing Jump for a mid-air attack and press Attack and Jump simultaneously for a life-draining super-attack. While it sounds like standard street brawling technology, the way the moves are carried out hurt the gameplay. For example, Duke's life-drain super attack is a corkscrew uppercut (or Dragon Punch) with a range that's too short to work proper crowd-control. Another feature working against you is what may be the shortest jumpkick animation in video game history. The attack frame of the move is on for such a brief time that you must perfectly time all jumpkicks you'll be vulnerable in mid-air. Of course, your enemies don't suffer from this and can hold their air attack poses until they hit the ground.
The background may look cool here, the gameplay isn't. While the enemies can walk anywhere, you're stuck on the lift. Some of the enemies will use this to their advantage.
The sprite work is decent for this era, but most of the designs are either boring or something just like another game. Duke is your typical Cody-esque blond hero with evened-out stats though the black tank top is a nice change. Ryu Saeba mimics Final Fight's Guy right down to some of his animations. Even Casterora plays the role of a tuxedo-wearing crime lord for the final boss. However, his main crime is running one of the blandest side-scroller gangs ever. Two of the lowest level thug sprite sets are variations of guys in jeans and a t-shirt. The variety is sorely lacking and is one of the things that make the game seem to drag on forever. The few standouts include some Hulk Hogan/Ultimate Warrior hybrids, a few Japanese swordsmen, Kunoichi and Marshall: the shirtless master of martial arts and turning red before hitting people. On the plus side, most of the backdrops look rather nice with more objects to break than most games. There are even a few doors scattered through the game that lead to small rooms where you can break up obstacles to get power-ups. There are also examples of enemies lurking farther in the background and making their way onto the playfield with a little bit of N-G zooming magic.
Ryu Saeba doesn't just look like Guy, but plays like him. It's too bad that they couldn't match Final Fight's gameplay.
The main problem that I have with this game is the cheapness of many enemy patterns. Opponents like the big-bellied guys and the wrestlers can set themselves up in a loop so that each attack hits you the moment that you get up until you die. There's no time to counter or dodge their move and break this chain. In other words, you can be knocked down once and never have a chance to recover. Yet another odd feature is how the heroes will eventually drop their weapons after a while for no reason than to make the game more difficult. These and many other flaws make this just another quarter (or continue) muncher. You'll see a few great moments like the section where you fight on one scrolling escalator while bombers on the background's escalator toss bombs at you. Unfortunately, there are too many negative control issues to enjoy the good parts of this game. SNK has done MUCH better than this before and after Burning Fight.
What's worse than fighting one large, cheap enemy? Fighting four large, sweaty, overalls-clad drones going cheaphouse on you.

Despite a few attempts to add pizzazz to the game play maps with the mini-rooms, it all falls flat when they're played with characters that are like lesser clones of established characters armed weak attacks and weapons that they drop whenever they feel like it. In fact, it's a further reminder that this title pales in comparison to the games that it attempts to ape. Worth a look if you want to see where “that t-shirt guy striker from King of Fighters” came from. This will be included in the SNK Arcade Classics compilation. Gameplay 5
Graphics 5
Sound 4
Control 4
Overall 4

Burning Fight and all it's characters © SNK

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