Sonic the Fighters
|Sonic the Fighters|
|Series||Sonic the Hedgehog|
|Mode(s)||Single player, multiplayer|
|Arcade system||Sega Model 2|
Sonic the Fighters (ソニック・ザ・ファイターズ? Sonikku za Faitāzu), known as Sonic Championship on arcade versions in North America and Europe, is a competitive fighting video game developed by Sega AM2 for Sega's Model 2 arcade system, and the first 3D game in the Sonic the Hedgehog series. The game, which allows players to fight using characters from the Sonic the Hedgehog series, was released in arcades in Japan in May 1996 and North America in June 1996. The game was included in the compilation disc Sonic Gems Collection for PlayStation 2 and GameCube in 2005. An HD port for Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network was released in November 2012.
Dr. Robotnik has built the Death Egg II, along with Metal Sonic. Tails manages to build a rocket ship called the Lunar Fox, capable of flying into space in order to stop Robotnik's plans. However, the Lunar Fox only contains one seat and requires the power of all the Chaos Emeralds (Unique to this game's canon, there are eight Chaos Emeralds total rather than the usual seven). With each emerald in possession of an individual who each wants a shot at Robotnik, a fighting tournament is held to decide who will ride the Lunar Fox into space.
Sonic the Fighters is a competitive fighting game in which characters fight against each other. Players win each round by knocking out their opponent or by having more health than them at the end of the round. In the Arcade mode, players will fight against each of the characters (including a greyscale clone of their chosen character) before fighting off against Metal Sonic. After defeating Metal Sonic, players face a bonus round in which they must try and defeat Dr. Robotnik within 15 seconds in order to obtain the good ending.
The game's mechanics are similar to those used in the Virtua Fighter series, revolving around three buttons used for punching, kicking and blocking. Blocking in this game uses barriers which break if they take too many hits. Players have a limited supply of barriers and will be unable to block attacks if they run out. Players can sacrifice one barrier to activate 'hyper mode', which allows for extended combos. Players are also able to perform sidestep maneuvers.
Masahiro Sugiyama, a character designer at AM2, added Sonic and Tails into the fighting game Fighting Vipers. Yu Suzuki saw this and decided to present the idea of a 3D Sonic fighting game to Hiroshi Kataoka. Suzuki then presented the idea to Yuji Naka. Naka commented, "I couldn't think of Sonic as a fighting game and was worried whether he could really fight with his short hands and big head. But Mr. Yu encouraged me." This was Sonic's 3D debut and had Naka's full support. It was at Naka's request that the development team created some new Sonic characters for the game. The game was released in Japanese arcades in May 1996, running on Sega Model 2 hardware.
- Sonic the Hedgehog – Sonic uses his Spin Dash and other normal abilities to attack his opponents. If he manages to reach the second round against Metal Sonic without losing once, he will transform into Super Sonic.
- Miles "Tails" Prower – Makes use of his twin tails to fly and fight, giving him a distinct advantage over the other fighters.
- Knuckles the Echidna – Knuckles is the most powerful fighter with strong, repetitive punches.
- Amy Rose – Known in-game as Rosy the Rascal, she specializes in defensive abilities being able to deliver super-powerful counterattacks.
- Espio the Chameleon – Espio attacks using his chameleon-like abilities, his senses and instincts.
- Fang the Sniper – Fang uses a popgun and mainly uses long-ranged attacks.
- Bean the Dynamite – Another projectile fighter: his solution for everything is bombs and explosives, but his attacks are relatively weak. Based on the characters from Dynamite Dux.
- Bark the Polar Bear – A very powerful, yet slow, character who specializes in grabs and short-range abilities.
- Metal Sonic* – The first boss character who has a wide variety of moves, such as shooting lasers. Only available in offline battle
- Doctor Eggman* – The second boss character who fights using a small mech. In the intro sequence, instead of his American name at the time Dr. Robotnik, the game mistakenly calls him Dr. Robotonic. Only available in offline battle
- Honey the Cat* – The unused/test character of the arcade version, has mostly the same moves as Knuckles, but has an appearance of a cat. Modeled after the Fighting Vipers character of the same name.
- ^* Playable in the 2012 release.
The game saw very limited release in North American arcades, as Sega of America considered the game's portrayal of Sonic and his friends to be too violent, and feared it gave Sonic a negative image. Nevertheless, many years later Sega would shy away from this stance with a new and completely different fighting game for the Game Boy Advance called Sonic Battle, and later Sonic himself became an unlockable character in the Wii game Super Smash Bros. Brawl, with a large amount of his moves actually based on attacks that he used in Sonic the Fighters.
A Sega Saturn version of the game was also announced for late 1996 but never released, though some elements appeared in the Saturn game Fighters Megamix, which features Bark the Polar Bear and Bean the Dynamite as playable characters. Character models from the game can be earned in the Dreamcast game Shenmue in the form of collectible gashapon figures. The game was ported to the Nintendo GameCube and PlayStation 2 as part of the Sonic Gems Collection compilation released in 2005, though only the GameCube version was released in North America. In the port, model data of all unused characters was removed. Character data still exists, but upon selection, the game crashes due to the missing models.
The game was announced for Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network as part of a Model 2 Collection series. This version allows players to play as Metal Sonic, Robotnik and Honey, and also features HD graphics and online functionality. The game was released on PlayStation Network on November 27, 2012 in North America, November 28, 2012 in Japan, and December 5, 2012 in Europe, and on Xbox Live Arcade in North America, Europe, and Japan on November 28, 2012.
The game received mixed to negative reviews at all in its initial release, due to a limited release in arcades, and the Sega Saturn version being cancelled. The game garnered more attention in its 2005 re-release as part of Sonic Gems Collection. GameSpot described the game as "a stripped-down version of Virtua Fighter 2, and called it "dated and simplistic" IGN echoed those sentiments, stating that it "plays like a streamlined version of the original Virtua Fighter" and closed with "Not that it's a terrible fighter, mind you, only that it's a very simple one. If you're expecting a wide assortment of moves and 200-hit combos, prepare to be disappointed. The selection of playable characters isn't too shabby, but each character's list of moves leaves something to be desired... like better moves."
The Sonic the Hedgehog series from Archie Comics includes several characters featured exclusively in this game, notably Bean the Dynamite and Bark the Polar Bear. Issues #268-271 featured a story arc titled "Challengers" with a plot similar to the game, which also saw the debut of Honey the Cat as a character. Fang the Sniper also later made an appearance, again renamed Nack the Weasel, though is occasionally labeled in introductory text boxes as 'The Fanged Sniper'.
- "The Fighting Game Action from Sega Hits Fever Pitch!". Maximum: The Video Game Magazine. Emap International Limited (5): 118. April 1996.
- The Last Arcade Crusaders Sega AM2 Interview from 1UP.com
- "Sonic Revival". Sega Saturn Magazine (4). Emap International Limited. February 1996. p. 6.
- "Sonic and AM2 Team-Up for New Coin-Op!". Maximum: The Video Game Magazine. Emap International Limited (3): 115. January 1996.
- System 16 - Model 2B CRX Hardware (Sega)
- "International Protos: Sonic Fighting". Electronic Gaming Monthly. Ziff Davis (81): 104. April 1996.
- Words: Justin Towell on November 22, 2012 (2012-11-22). "Virtua Fighter 2, Fighting Vipers and Sonic The Fighters coming to the West sooner than expected". GamesRadar. Retrieved 2013-08-01.
- August 24, 2005 7:23PM PDT (2005-08-16). "Sonic Gems Collection Review". GameSpot.com. Retrieved 2013-08-01.