While Virtua Fighter 2 may be the Olympics of the fighting world, Fighting Vipers is a knock down, drag out bar brawl. AM2 uses their VF2 expertise to create a darker, grittier fighter that proves as satisfying as its predecessor.
AM2 brings together a motley group of fighters, each different and whimsical in their own way. Popular fighters around the office are Jane, who's a dead ringer for Vasquez from "Aliens," Raxal the rock singer, Honey, for that weird french maid office, and Kumachan, the bear that walks like a statue. The character designs are more bizarre than your average fighter. Although, they may not be for everybody, but each of them are well developed, with large numbers of moves and combos.
The introduction screen options show how far AM2 has come in developing Saturn owners. A new training mode allows you to practice moves against AI-configurable opponents. Invaluable for mastering your favorite characters. After you've trained long enough, a playback mode lets you relive the matches that made you great. If you notice, most of the screenshots were taken off some movies we saved.
Two major additions to FV add a huge amount of depth are the cage and armor. Cages prevent ringouts and increase damage if a player is thrown into one. Massive juggling combos are also possible by keeping the opponent against the wall. Learning to use the wall is an essential skill to master.
Armor creates opportunities for new strategies. While a character wears armor, he or she takes less damage and moves slower. When it gets broken off, a player has to change stategies fast or death isn't too far away. This introduces interesting variations on gameplay, where sacrificing health for speed is a possibility.
Graphically, the game definitely shows the limits of its engine. The cages pop in and out as the camera moves close. Also, while very close, it definitely loses some of the clarity and resolution of the arcade version. This only adds to the games nastier feel, though.
Fast gameplay, deep characters, and the new options make Fighting Vipers an excellent addition to the Saturn game library.