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CONSOLE: Neo Geo DEVELOPER: SNK PUBLISHER: SNK
RELEASE DATE (NA): August 9, 1991 GENRE: Beat-'em-up
// review by SoyBomb

I'd rather actually be set on fire than play Burning Fight again.

Let's just lay it on the table: though I enjoy a good beat-'em-up now and again, Burning Fight was basically a derivative work that couldn't even come close to the fun factor of its forefathers. Burning Fight is, at heart, a ripoff of Final Fight, a brawler released two years earlier, but lacking any character or distinguishing features. It was terrible. I'd rather have had a cat sit on my face for a week straight than play Burning Fight again.

Let's start off with some glaring similarities between Final Fight and Burning Fight, aside from the obvious use of the word "Fight" in the title. In Final Fight, you get to pick between three characters: Guy, the ninjutsu master; Cody, the martial arts enthusiast; and Haggar, the buff mayor of Metro City, sporter of a single suspender and no shirt. They're all ready to punch their way through the entire Mad Gear Gang to save Cody's girlfriend AND to rescue Metro City from the gang's clutches. That's swell, and it's nice to see a mayor actually take to the streets and start socking people in the face to protect the safety of the citizens. Burning Fight also has three characters available for use: Ryu, another ninjutsu warrior (who even shares identical garb with Guy); Duke, a buff street fighter (just without sleeves on his shirt), and Billy, a large muscly (dare I say, buff) fellow. Not only are these characters as generic as humanly possible, but they are more or less direct reflections of the main characters of Final Fight! And instead of dealing with the Mad Gear Gang, they have to get rid of the "Castella family" alongside a Japanese crime syndicate known as "Heiwa-gumi" (what?) that's sweeping the city of New York. It's just a reskin of Capcom's storyline, except more dull.

Oh, and guess where the Castella family is from. Believe it or not, they claim to hail from... Metro City! That's right: they even use the same fictitious CITY name as Final Fight! Did the development team try as hard as they possibly could to make sure we knew all about their source of plagiarisminspiration?


Punch your way to mediocrity! It's great... just great...

Unfortunately, the rest of the cast is just as generic. A few are pulled straight from the Final Fight archives. Flaming-item tossing coward? Check. Overweight hillbilly who charges at you? Check. Final boss that is physically disabled and fires rounds at you? Believe it or not, check! Two of the bosses closely resemble Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage, a fact I doubt is coincidental. A few characters are mildly original, such as the female martial arts boss Azusa Heike or the provocatively animated hobo that proceeds to... um... enjoy your leg a bit too much. The scenarios are pretty standard as well. "Downtown"? "Shopping Center"? "Boring Ship Dock"? Way to put some thought into it, fellas. Not that they aren't adequately detailed, visually speaking, but the genre could use some more intriguing backdrops. If there's anything at all unique, it's that you can sporadically go inside buildings and destroy the innards for gold (and, thus, extra points).

Playing the game is equally debilitating. It's not that the controls are terrible; it's that I felt a bit too weak compared to most of the other cronies. I had to spar with. Each character gets the basics: A button to punch, B button to jump, and C button to kick. Billy doesn't even get a kick, so he's even more worthless. By holding B and pressing either A or C, they'll perform a jump attack (or a cheesy elbow drop, if you're Billy); pressing A and B together will trigger a hyper attack, though its use depletes your life force. Unlike many beat-'em-ups, Burning Fight didn't make me feel as though I had a chance. Enemies will either land multiple hits without the chance to stand up, or they will gang up on you to pummel your entire life bar away. In the later levels, this is a significant problem that defeats any possibility of having a good time. The latter half of my exposure to Burning Fight revolved around my character being knocked to the ground over and over. And over. And over.

Unbalanced, uninteresting, and uninspired, Burning Fight proves only that you can take all the ideas from a successful video game and still manage to create a clone that is iffy at best. Burning Fight is missing heart, as though the development team members were simply earning a paycheque, rather than moulding a labour of love. I wouldn't recommend this if someone paid me to do it. Play Final Fight instead for the real experience.


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