Better known as ‘that fighting game that got sued by Capcom’, Data East’s Fighter’s History is indeed a very direct B-grade copy of Street Fighter II (1991) specifically designed, developed and released to cater for the versus fighting game boom of the early 90s.
The best thing though, is that it’s actually quite good: the characters are well designed, and the gameplay holds together really well. It’s easily one of the best fighting games of the period, and that’s quite a feat considering how many SFII wannabes that appeared throughout 1992 and 1993.
Be it Namco’s Knuckle Heads (1992), Atlus’ Goketsuji Ichizoku (1993) or Konami’s Martial Champion (1993), none of them came remotely close to Fighter’s History‘s crisp and accessible gameplay.
The archetypal ‘World Fighting Tournament’ setup presents a colourful cast of fighters, and the system revolves around a remarkably smooth and entertaining ‘chain combo’ system. The end result is a total success – and that’s probably why Capcom got bitchy and got their lawyer on the blower.
And that is a shame. It is not a ‘direct copy’ (as Capcom argued), but a tribute to Capcom’s masterpiece – a congratulatory rendition of a genre that was perfected by SFII, yet omnipresent since the heyday of Yie Ar Kung Fu. It was really low of Capcom to try to claim the entire genre as their own – and try to sponge poor old Data East for a few notes in the process.
Damn them. Hell has a special place reserved for hoarding greed heads who behave like that. They lost, their reputation was tarnished, and Data East’s game went on to make even more of a name for itself. Good.
Seriously, give this old beast a try: it shows promising signs of a really fun game engine – one that was tweaked to perfection in the excellent sequel Fighter’s History Dynamite (1994).