First off, I'd like to apologize - I messed up. If I still had a copy of the game, I'd rip it for all of you in a heartbeat, but I don't. I sold it in a garage sale to some kid who claimed to be a collector, and I never found out what happened to it. It was one of those hasty summer afternoons you end up regretting, where you end up pawning off something you love because you feel like you need a change; I ended up selling a lot of old memories that weekend, but you're not here to hear about them. You're here about Otherfighters.
I don't know how many of you have a Dendy, but I was never able to get the cartridge to play right in an actual, honest-to-jeezus S-NES. It would only work in the Dendy, and only if you tilted it at just the right angle. I swear that there was some kind of occult science behind getting the game to work that any of you who've had to deal with homebrew games in technically bootleg consoles might feel familiar with. Since I don't know how many other people here actually played the game, it was supposedly designed by Carmine Softworks, 1994. I know you're probably halfway to another tab and a search by now, but don't bother - they got bought out a few months after releasing Otherfighters by some fast food company that went bankrupt maybe a year down the line. I don't even know what spurred the purchase - but it's pretty tragic to think of such an innovative developer meeting such an ignoble end.
Try to imagine, all right? White screen, red semi-circle, synthesized trumpets. Can you hear them? If you ever heard the Carmine logo synth, you probably never forgot it. It was oddly regal and completely unfitting for the game itself, or any game developed by Carmine; not surprising, given that their only other titles were Radracers and Funderfiends.
If you've noticed a trend with the game names, you should've seen the instruction 'manual'. Despite Carmine being based out of the south-eastern US, it felt like the thing had been run through several machine translaters and then given to an overworked undergrad to turn into something resembling a manual. No character info, no movelists, just some really weird concept art that looks like it was probably traced from a Rob Liefeld comicbook and looks nothing like the characters and a list of credits - all pseudonyms, of course.
And if you were still riding high from the Carmine corporate stinger, the intro to Otherfighters was one hell of a bucket of cold water. I'm pretty sure they never finished composing a soundtrack for it and just sampled operating system noises into something that resembled music; consequently, whenever I had friends over to play multiplayer we never stuck around at the title screen, which was a crying shame. Some people criticized the opening screen for being bland - a grey skyscraper in a grey urban environment? Really? - but they didn't have the obsession I did.
Waiting past the ear-gratingly painful two minute mark would see color slowly wash into the foreground, and pixelated people start milling across the street. The music eventually faded with a soothing synth-wave, and you could just make out chatter; not real chatter or digitized speech, of course, but clicks and murmurs that simulted the feel of crossing a crowded street. The ambient noise of the city washed over you, right until you got hit with the same sucker-punch as the second ending.
But again, I don't think many people got that far, thankfully. If they had, well, maybe that's why so few people played it.
Now, if you haven't played Otherfighters yourself, this is where it felt pretty derivitive. You had eight fighters - Otherfighters, I guess, but the title never really made sense to me. Otherfighters in comparison to what? 'Normal' fighters? Did Carmine just choose an adjective and the genre of a game, or what?
Though no one is certain, the designs of the Otherfighters looked as if they'd been motion-capped and then rotoscoped; the end result was something that felt like a mostly clunkier Prince of Persia. Characters moved at perhaps twenty frames per second - except when they moved too suddenly, as anyone who has lost to Francesca's familiar with. But the design - the design was the best damn part of the whole game. I kid you not - I loved these characters, which is probably one of the reasons I'm here begging for any other informatin out there, even if there aren't any playable copies left out there.
Tucker the Trucker, with his downcast eyes and constant shivering despite that huge coat. Francesca the nun, who always looked to be on the verge of tears. That condescending look Alferd(sic!) always had. William's pixelated wrench that occasionally glitched out the top of the screen!
But the first player I chose was Eugene. The one thing that struck me about all of the characters was how sad or lost they looked; one thing I noted even then was that if you lined up the selectable character art for the characters, they were all staring at one another with paranoid expressions in their eyes. But not Eugene, no; despite the fact that she was as much out of place as the rest of them, office-worker(?) as she was, she was just smiling and staring at the camera.
Clarifying for the rest of you out there, Eugene was the nametag pinned to her jacket, and possibly not the name she got when she came into the world - call it a hunch.
For me, I didn't want to play someone who looked like they were having a really bad day - I wanted to play someone who looked ready to fight. I was young, and already the game had started to lose my attention - but Eugene looked ready to fight, so I picked her, despite my reservations - best choice I made.
As soon as you choose a single-player character and a mode, you're off on the story arc, just dropped straight into the first linear battle. Most people just played two-player vs matches, as the gameplay was so much better versus another human being, but I didn't always have friends willing to play the game on hand - so I played the campaign a fair amount, even with the endings being what they were. Two things I'll give it - I actually like the linear opponents. Sure, there's no dialogue or anything, but the game did create a sense of story that you don't see in other games of the time. The other is that, if you go into the game with the right mindset, single-player is really, really, really, really, really, really, really, fun.
Otherfighters broke a lot of ground. At first I was dissappointed by the fact that the AI is broken and spends all of it's time moving backwards and guarding, mostly. I also was disappointed by how weak all of my attacks were, and how weak the opponents counter-attacks were, when they bothered to execute them. Tucker would just kind of push you away, shaking his head, like he was afraid to fight back; what sort of counter is that? But that's where the game is awesome. As the fight goes on - or you execute longer combos - your fighter gets more hyped up; their attacks do more damage, change pattern or attack speed, and at the threshold even start becoming other (mostly) superior attacks. Similarly, if you're *taking* too much damage, you get a special meter that fills up and lets you pull off your instant-kill. You can go for both, but tactically using the other is a pinnacle of multi-player, and one of the reasons the game was so much fun.
The first time Eugene stabbed Tucker with her pen and comical levels of blood spurted out, I knew I wanted this game to go on forever. Six more opponents wasn't enough! Sure, the AI doesn't get better in later levels, but you can still be one-shot by if you aren't careful. Since Francesca is praying the entire time throughout her stage, it can be hard to tell if the AI is preparing for her finisher, and given how fast it is, you're probably going to be flensed alive once or twice. And the lack of continues hurts, especially given how tedious the first two battles generally are.
But preserverance and curiousity kept me going, and this is where a lot of critics and amateur sleuths have tried to figure out just where it all went wrong. No matter who you win with, the moment you've killed opponent number seven, you're droppde in another battlefield. It took me a while, but I'm almost certain it's the same street backdrop from the title screen, downsample and stretched down to fill the screen despite fitting on it just fine in the first place. The pixelation is horrible and makes it hard to tell what's going on, and the chattering-sound is mixed over the title theme.
There's no opponent - the enemy life bar is just empty, but your character gets stunlocked and makes a gasping gesture, like they're trying to fight off an opponent's grapple. Their health goes down in chunks, and then depending on whether you killed more opponents with your special move or normal attacks, you get ending one or two depending. I never had the patience to use only special moves, so I never got ending one. I hear it was more sensical, but boring and kind of generic.
Ending two, though...
Well, if any of you have even heard of Otherfighters, you'll know why I want it again. I kind of have to see that ending again. I was looking on a few sites for it, even badly captured, but no luck. You wouldn't believe the other sites I've been to, looking for that ending!.. You just can't look away.
So if anyone has footage of ending two, or heaven help me, a working copy of the game, please respond. You can name your price - I'll even try to re-enact it for you, if you want. Anything you want. Just help me relive that thrill - help me get my memories back again.