Version tested: PSOne
Pocket Fighter (1997)
- Developer: Capcom
- Publisher: Capcom
If you weren't a fan of 2D beat 'em ups by the time the PlayStation rolled into town, you were probably never going to be a fan of 2D beat 'em ups. With Tekken, Soul Edge (latterly Soul Calibur) and their likes dominating the fighting game market, it looked like 2D games were destined for the scrapheap of history. Certainly, there were (and always will be) plenty of ardent devotees of the King of Fighters and Streetfighter titles, but for the mass market, 3D was a must-have for any face-kicking enterprise.
Enter stage left; Pocket Fighter. Or Super Gem Fighter: Mini Mix to give it its altogether less snappy international title. Nicking some of its art inspiration from Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo, the game pitted "super-deformed" (i.e. tiny, cute and insanely Japanese) versions of your favourite fighters from a variety of fighting games against one another. Tongue firmly in cheek, the game was a hilarious swansong for beautifully detailed, wonderfully animated backgrounds and fantastically imaginative special moves.
Moreover, the game was accessible on every level, relying on collecting gems to power up easily executed special moves. After all, what's the point in having a move which sees Chun Li transform into a traffic police uniform and direct a stream of cars over her opponent if you then make the move hard to pull off? A solid set of Capcom cameos, beautifully balanced move sets and garishly over the top presentation were the finishing touches on an everyman's light-hearted beat 'em up which has yet to be rivalled on any platform.