Skull Fang: Kuhga Gaiden
|Skull Fang: Kuhga Gaiden|
North American arcade flyer of Skull Fang.
|Developer(s)||Data East (arcade)
Aisystem Tokyo (Sega Saturn)
|Platform(s)||Arcade, Sega Saturn|
|Mode(s)||Single player, 2 player co-op|
|CPU||Custom Data East "156" CPU @ 7 MHz|
Skull Fang: Kuhga Gaiden (スカルファング ～空牙外伝～) is a 1996 vertical-scrolling shoot 'em up arcade game developed and published by Data East. Skull Fang is the third and final entry in a loose trilogy of games beginning with the 1989 Kuhga.
Skull Fang is similar to the original Kuhga. Players choose one of four jets set among the flying aircraft carrier Skull Fang, as well as a pilot to fly the jet and attack enemy squadrons and battalions worldwide.
Players start the game by first selecting their jet, each jet containing a different bomb or special attack.
- F/AV-1B Silph II, US Navy - A jet with average speed and strength. Its special attack consists of an impenetrable shield that can allow the jet to Kamikaze into other vehicles.
- AV-02A Mega-Valkyrie, US Army - A jet-plane with slow speed and maneuverability, but good strength. It carries a large bomb that can clear the screen of most enemies.
- FV-03C Seylen-Ex - The fastest jet in the line-up, though the weakest. It has guns mounted near its tail allowing it to fire in two directions.
- BV-04 SIF, Sub-Space Development - A recently developed space-jet with the best handling over the others.
Players then choose their pilot, all known only by each other's code names.
- Hawk - A hot-headed and moody male fighter pilot.
- Raven - A caucasian, smooth-talking and unusually calm male bomber pilot.
- Sparrow - An easy-going and somewhat cheerful, English speaking female fighter pilot.
- Crane - A diligent and patriotic Japanese female Ganguro bomber pilot.
The weapon pick-ups include the following.
- Vulcan - Standard-automatic firing machine gun that fires straight forward in a hail of bullets, but can also fire backwards (depending on the jet selected). Covers a wide range of fire, but is significantly weak.
- Cluster shot - A weapon consisting of green circulating shots that proffer a 'shot-gun effect' type of fire in that it spreads the further it travels.
- Missiles - Multiple homing missiles that fire from six different directions on the jet.
- Laser gun - A dual, straight firing laser weapon that increases in strength with upgrades, but does not cover a wide range of fire.
Players also can pick up a weapon attachment that increases weapon strength and ability depending on the jet known as the S-Unit. The S-Unit can charge its strength and ultimately change its attack pattern when the players use the manual five-speed option whereupon reaching the jet's highest gear, the weapon will temporarily change to a homing weapon known as H-Unit mode. However, the S-Unit attachment can be removed and thus detonated once players hit the Bomb button.
Seven years have passed since the events of Wolf Fang in 2001, where the militant/terrorist organization Ragnarok was quelled. Though Oceania and the United States were successful in their efforts, a significant number of mechs had secretly escaped destruction and after the seven years of silence finally reappear. The strongest of the mechs appears and begins decimating American cities at random, signifying the Ragnarok's latest assault on society.
During those seven years however, an air force unit based on the success of Operation Vapor Trail had been assembled; known as the Skull Fang squadron, the unit was founded in case the organization ever re-appeared. Consisting of four talented pilots whose personal backgrounds and information are withheld from each other, the team is sent to deal with the latest threat and to protect the terrorist's suspected target, the headquarters that house their unit leaders.
Skull Fang was later ported by both Data East and Aisystem Tokyo to the Sega Saturn in 1997. This port adds several new features, such as a trial mode, a boss rush mode, a tutorial video and an additional speed mode which has two settings rather than five. Occasionally, the sprites suffer from flickering. Some arranged versions of songs from Kuhga are also included in the game disc as redbook audio.
On February 26, 1996, Pony Canyon and Scitron Label added the arcade version's background music of Skull Fang with the background music of another Data East MLC System title, Avengers in Galactic Storm, both into an album titled Skull Fang / Avengers in Galactic Storm, which was released exclusively in Japan. This version also includes two exclusive arranged versions of the songs "Skull Fang" (Stage 1 theme) and "Over Boost" (Stage 2 Boss theme). On July 21, 2010, TEAM Entertainment added the background music of the arcade version with the background music of the first two Kuhga games, plus three other Data East shooting games (Darwin 4078, SRD: Super Real Darwin, and Act-Fancer: Cybernetick Hyper Weapon), into one album titled Data East Retro Game Music Collection, which was distributed exclusively in Japan by Sony Music Distribution.
A Next Generation reviewer, while acknowledging that the chase mode and back and side thrusts are variations in the shooter formula, concluded Skull Fang to be "a shooter in the most generic sense." He scored the arcade version two out of five stars.