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Retro Reviews: Fighters Megamix

In 1996, SEGA was in a tough position with the SEGA Saturn. The system was getting demolished by the PlayStation and the Nintendo 64 in sales. Even worse, no third-party developers wanted to take time to port games to the Saturn due to how hard it was to develop games for the system. Despite this, SEGA had done well with fighting games. Virtua Fighter 2 was a massive hit, as was SEGA’s other brawler Fighting Vipers. So when you need a sure-fire game to help your struggling console, why not combine the two? Enter Fighters Megamix in 1996 in Japan and 1997 in the United States. How did Megamix come together? Did it manage to mesh the two franchises? Does it still hold up almost 25 years later? Let’s begin, shall we?

Fighters Megamix started with SEGA AM2, who developed both Virtua Fighter 2 and Fighting Vipers, wanting to make a game to thank players of the SEGA Saturn. They began the development of Fighters Megamix in secret. Unlike the previous two, AM2 said making the game was much easier thanks to the leaps in technology and becoming more comfortable with how to develop for the Saturn hardware. To keep with the element of fun and surprise, the game wasn’t even announced until 2 months before the Japanese release.

Fighting can be weird and fun!

Fun is the keyword when talking about Fighters Megamix. It may sound cliché, but this is a game that feels like every element was thought out by the development team to just bring a smile to players’ faces. The most critical question for first-time players is if the open arena fighting of Virtua Fighter and arena-style fighting of Fighting Vipers mix well? Thankfully, stages are taken from both games to reflect the play styles of the franchises they are taken from. Whether you like one more or the other, you thankfully get to choose between both! This also adds a layer of strategy not seen in either game before. If you exclusively played Virtua Fighter for instance, now you have to think about your surroundings if you get thrown into an area. It’s a weirdly fresh touch for both franchises.

Fighters Megamix harkened back to an era for me of games I truly miss. Games loaded with content to earn and unlock through skill from brim to brim. I’m old, I know that’s not how it is anymore with DLC and loot boxes. But understand that it felt so gratifying to work through this review and unlock everything I could without having to drop more money into a product I already bought. And boy is there a lot to unlock in Fighters Megamix. I alluded to hidden characters before so IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW THEM, SKIP AHEAD A PARAGRAPH. Not my fault if you stay now. Megamix has some of the wildest unlockables I’ve ever seen in a game. Sure, there are characters like Virtua Fighter prototype Siba and Virtua Cop 2’s Janet. But there are also wild characters like training dummy Deku, Bean and Bark from Sonic The Fighters, and Hornet! You know? The car from Daytona USA. No, you read that right. Keep going.

Wait, you can fight as a car?

The roster of Fighters Megamix is one for the ages for SEGA fighting game fans. At the time, it included every known character from Virtua Fighter and Fighting Vipers. If you had one main, you didn’t have to worry about them not showing up in some way in Megamix. Hell, even both games’ bosses were playable from the very beginning. To see that was truly wild.

Of course, this does lead to some balancing issues fighting-wise. If you are really good with a character like Grace, that doesn’t mean someone is gonna be on the same field as you playing Dural. They will be stronger, and they can kick you into oblivion easily. Weirdly though, this imbalance is fun to play around with as you unlock more characters. Some are very overpowered, while some are severely underpowered. It adds an experimentation level of working with bad characters I rarely see in fighting games anymore. Thankfully, there is an amazing practice mode added in that was first seen in Fighting Vipers. Megamix refines the mode though to be much more intuitive and less clunky. It’s the rare practice mode that doesn’t feel like a chore to stay in.

Megamix is also going to award you for that experimentation with all characters in its single-player content. Single-player arcade is split into nine tracks that are pretty self-explanatory. Novice trial for beginners, Virtua Fighters, Fighting Vipers, Girls, Muscle, Smart Guys, Dirty Fighters, Bosses, and Secrets. To unlock everything in the game, you’re going to have to beat all of these. Not just that, but some with specific characters. Powerful and underpowered alike. That experimentation I discussed earlier will become key if you wish to unlock everything. Megamix makes it worth it though as every unlock is surprising and fun, even if it’s just a skin pallet.

The next main mode to master to one hundred percent unlock everything is survival mode. You’re going to want to bring your main in for this one. It’s what you expect. Beat as many characters as you can in 3, 7, and 15 minutes. What I wasn’t aware of though was to unlock content, you need to LIVE until the end. Not just beat opponents till you die, you need to be standing at the end of it. I would be lying if I said that 15-minute gauntlet didn’t make me want to tear my hair out by the end. It’s not an impossible challenge, but it will push your skills more than you ever thought. And the most painful part? It’s so fun and satisfying when you finally manage to do it. I hate that it caused me so much joyous stress, but the best games do manage to pull that off. Even ones as old as Fighters Megamix.

Unlocking everything in Fighters Megamix is time-consuming, but it allows you to truly see how much love and care Sega AM2 put into the game as a whole. Everything is brimming with lighthearted energy. From the fights to secrets, to even the score by Takenobu Mitsuyoshi is made in a way that just brings a smile to players’ faces as you work to see what all the devs crammed into the game with the time that they could.

Fighters Megamix Details - LaunchBox Games Database

Fighters Megamix, The best of the Saturn

Wrapping up, Fighters Megamix is one of the wildest games I have ever played. Not only is it fun by meshing two fighting series correctly, but it packs as much as it can content-wise. From unlockable fighters to hidden secrets, to even being able to play a fighting game as a CAR (granted, he’s not the best). Megamix just understands that players are here to have fun fighting against their friends. On that note, it delivers in weird and wonderful spades. It is a must-have for any Saturn owner to this day.

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