Format reviewed: Arcade
Big Fight: Big Trouble In The Atlantic Ocean is the last videogame released by Tatsumi before it transitioned to manufacturing novelty arcade cabinets. Attempting to capitalise on the popularity of games such as Street Fighter II, the game included a one-on-one mode for two players. Accordingly, the cast of characters is a little larger than other games in the genre, with the eight playable characters including an English martial artist and an Egyptian magician.
Competing with the dedicated beat-‘em-ups that were dominating the arcades must have seemed like a good idea, but it doesn’t work so well in practice. Big Fight’s versus mode is similar to those found in the Streets of Rage games, and though each character is unique and possesses a couple of special moves, there isn’t enough depth to the action to be truly competitive with the one-on-one fighters.
Thankfully, the main game is much more entertaining, though it’s a fairly standard scrolling fighter. While only three of the game’s playable characters are available at the beginning, the rest are bosses that join the playable cast when defeated. This occurrence is accompanied by the wonderful mistranslation “Now I came to my sense. Can you take me into partnership?”
The cruise ship setting provides for fights in areas such as bars and restaurants, the upper deck and the engine room, as well as unexpected stages such as traditional Japanese rooms, gardens and gyms. Apparently, the seemingly restrictive theme can be subverted by virtue of having an awesome boat. The locations look good too, with lively backgrounds featuring nice details such as animated bystanders and fish tanks.
Weaponry is also suitably over the top, from swords and footballs to a grenade launcher that is as tall as some of the character sprites. Unfortunately, Tatsumi wasn’t able to animate these in a convincing manner, as they often float around the hands of the character using them and jerk around during walking animations.
Even without Tatsumi’s exit from the videogame market, Big Fight may have struggled to find a home release. Fighting fans were being drawn to the very same beat-‘em-ups that inspired the inclusion of Big Fight’s one-on-one mode, and being rough around the edges wouldn’t have helped in facing off against genre heavyweights such as Streets of Rage 2 and Final Fight.
This originally appeared in Retro Gamer issue 126 as part of The Unconverted, a regular feature on games that didn’t receive home conversions. To read the rest of the feature, including looks at Knuckle Bash and China Gate, pick up a digital copy at GreatDigitalMags.com today.