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Developer(s)Atari Games
Publisher(s)Arcade Home
Designer(s)Gary Stark
Mark Pierce
Programmer(s)Gary Stark
Paul Kwinn
Artist(s)Rob Rowe
Composer(s)John Paul
Platform(s)Arcade, Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, MS-DOS, Game Boy, Lynx, Master System, Genesis, SNES, ZX Spectrum
Mode(s)Up to 3 players simultaneously
Arcade systemAtari G1 Hardware

Pit-Fighter is a 1990 arcade fighting game by Atari Games which uses digitized live actors. It was Atari's first fighting game.[1] The Japanese arcade release was published by Konami. Home versions were published by Tengen.

The graphical animations for the player character and opponents were created through a bluescreen process, where the various poses and moves were performed by real actors in front of a video camera. The game's on-screen character animation are replays of the actual footage, not a rotoscoped (redrawn) animation. Pit-Fighter is the second fighting game to use digitized sprites, after Home Data's Reikai Dōshi: Chinese Exorcist.


The gameplay is similar to Taito's Violence Fight and SNK's Street Smart. The player must punch and kick their opponents until their energy runs out. If the player presses all three of the buttons at once, the character will perform a "super move". The player begins by choosing one of the three playable characters, who each have different moves, speed, and power. Up to three people can play at a time, but there will be extra opponents to fight during any of the game's 15 different matches.

Every third fight is a bonus round known as a Grudge Match.[3] In a Grudge Match, the player must fight against a CPU controlled clone of the fighter if playing alone, or against the other players in a multiplayer game. Getting knocked down three times eliminates a player from the Grudge Match; the winner is the last one standing. Losing the Grudge Match does not eliminate a player, but the winner gets bonus money.

The final battle, the "Championship Match", is between the player and the mysterious entity that taunts between matches periodically, the Masked Warrior. If more than one person is playing the game before this match, they must fight each other to the death until only one becomes victorious and can fight him.

The crowd can interfere by attacking, dropping usable weapons, or pushing a stray player back into the fight. The "power pill" power-up makes the player temporarily stronger and take less damage from hits.


Pit-Fighter features 3 playable fighters:

Pit-Fighter has 8 unplayable opponents. Several of the characters share the names of the actors who played them:[4]

  • Executioner (John Aguire)
  • Southside Jim (James Thompson)
  • Angel (Angela Stellato)
  • C.C. Rider (Rich Vargas)
  • Mad Miles (Miles McGowan)
  • Heavy Metal (Kim Rhodes)
  • Chainman Eddie (Eddie Venancio)
  • Masked Warrior (Bill McAleenan)


  • Knife Woman (Dianne Bertucci)
  • Knife Man (Milt Loper)
  • Finale Woman (Tina Scyrater)
  • Finale Woman (Maria Lenytzkyj)
  • Big Kid In The Crowd (Gabriel Koura)
  • Crowd (Rob Rowe)


In 1991, versions of the game were released for the Super NES, Mega Drive/Genesis, Sega Master System, Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, MS-DOS, and ZX Spectrum. In February 1993, the Spectrum version was released as part of the Super Fighter compilation with Final Fight and WWF WrestleMania.[5] The Super NES version lacks the interactive audience, weapons, and three characters: Southside Jim, Heavy Metal, and Mad Miles.

Handheld versions were released for the Atari Lynx and the Game Boy in 1992. Tiger Electronics released its own dedicated handheld version.

An emulated version of the arcade game is in the 2004's Midway Arcade Treasures 2 for GameCube, PlayStation 2, and Xbox, and in Midway Arcade Treasures Deluxe Edition (2006) for Microsoft Windows. This version runs at a faster speed than the arcade original. Pit-Fighter is in the 2012 compilation Midway Arcade Origins.[6]


Atari sold 6,500 arcade units worldwide, including 5,500 units in North America and 1,000 in Europe.[2] In North America, it was the top-grossing upright arcade cabinet on the RePlay arcade charts in October 1990,[9] and weekly coin drop earnings averaged $413.75 per arcade unit during November to December 1990.[10] In Japan, Game Machine listed Pit-Fighter in its January 1, 1991 issue as the seventh most successful table arcade unit of the month.[11]

Julian Rignall of Computer and Video Games rated the arcade version 90%, calling it a "thoroughly enjoyable beat 'em up which really packs a punch" and "one of the most enjoyable arcade fighting games in a long time".[7] Zzap!64 gave the game a more negative review, dubbing it an "anticlimactic beat'em up" and writing that the attract mode was the best part of the game. They criticized the limited frames of animation and compared it unfavorably to The Combatribes and Final Fight.[12]

David Wilson of Computer Gaming World approved of the Amiga version, stating that it "is the arcade game teleported", and concluded that the game "offers the two-player option missing in many fighter games and enough roughhousing to suit the most violent gamer".[13]

George and Rob reviewed the Super NES version in Nintendo Power.[14] George commented that game was "extremely difficult to control" and that Rob commented on the graphics using digitized people, stating "it doesn't matter if it uses new technology or not. The question is "is the game fun?" and I think the answer in this case is "no"."[14]

MegaTech magazine said the graphics were "badly defined with rough animation".[citation needed] Mega placed the Mega Drive version at #27 in its Top Mega Drive Games of All Time.[15]


Electronic Gaming Monthly and GamePro had previews of a planned sequel, which the former magazine claimed was more than 75% finished and would be released for Sega Genesis in the fourth quarter of 1993.[16][17] Kato, Buzz, and Ty were returning along with three new selectable fighters: Connor (Karate Champion), Tanya (Roller Queen), and Chief (Ex-bodyguard). Those are also three of the playable characters ultimately featured in Atari's subsequent game, Guardians of the 'Hood. Pictures show two CPU fighters, Helga (level 1) and Jay-Jay (level 2).[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b "News Digest". RePlay. Vol. 15, no. 12. September 1990. p. 23.
  2. ^ a b c "Production Numbers" (PDF). Atari Games. August 31, 1999. Retrieved April 19, 2021.
  3. ^ "Pit-Fighter". MobyGames. Retrieved November 9, 2013.
  4. ^ https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0296802/fullcredits?ref_=tt_cl_sm#cast[user-generated source]
  5. ^ "Super Fighter". Ysrnry.co.uk. Archived from the original on August 13, 2012. Retrieved August 10, 2012.
  6. ^ "Midway Arcade Origins Review". IGN. November 13, 2012. Retrieved October 15, 2016.
  7. ^ a b Rignall, Julian (January 1991). "Pit Fighter". Computer+Video Games. No. 110. p. 140. Retrieved March 26, 2018.
  8. ^ MegaTech rating, EMAP, issue 5, page 78, May 1992
  9. ^ "RePlay: The Players' Choice". RePlay. Vol. 16, no. 1. October 1990. p. 4.
  10. ^ "Editorial". RePlay. Vol. 16, no. 4. January 1991. p. 6.
  11. ^ "Game Machine's Best Hit Games 25 - テーブル型TVゲーム機 (Table Videos)". Game Machine (in Japanese). No. 395. Amusement Press, Inc. January 1, 1991. p. 37.
  12. ^ "Pit-Fighter". Zzap!64. February 1991. p. 54.
  13. ^ Wilson, David (October 1992). "Pit-Fighter". Computer Gaming World. No. 99. p. 66. Retrieved July 4, 2014.
  14. ^ a b George; Rob (January 1992). "George & Rob's Now Playing". Nintendo Power. Vol. 32. p. 102.
  15. ^ Mega magazine issue 1, page 76, Future Publishing, Oct 1992
  16. ^ Gurka, John (August 1993). "Fact-Files: Pit Fighter II". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 49. Sendai Publishing. pp. 126–127.
  17. ^ "Short ProShots: Genesis". GamePro. No. 51. IDG. October 1993. pp. 148–150.

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