|Arcade system||Namco NB-2|
The Outfoxies[a] is a 1995 weapon-based fighting arcade game developed and published in Japan by Namco. Controlling one of seven assassins, players are tasked with defeating opponents with different types of weapons, while also avoiding different obstacles brought on by various stage gimmicks. Weapons consist of firearms such as pistols, machine guns and rocket launchers, to more outlandish items such as pie and bowls of hot soup. It runs on the Namco NB-2 arcade system.
The game was designed by Masateru Umeda, who later created the arcade game Dancing Eyes a year later. It was largely ignored upon release, due to 3D fighting games overshadowing 2D ones and the market being dominated by both Capcom and SNK. In retrospect, the game has garnered critical acclaim for its outlandish and bizarre action themes, often being compared to action films and games developed by Goichi Suda. Several have recognized it for pioneering gameplay elements found in later arena-based fighting games, particularly the Super Smash Bros. series.
The Outfoxies is a fighting game which pits players into one-on-one arena combat. Players chose from a collection of assassins to play as, with the goal of killing the other player's character. The game features seven playable characters: John Smith, a mercenary; Betty Doe, a business woman; Prof. Ching, a scientist in a wheelchair; Bernard White, a biomedical engineer with a prosthetic hand; Danny and Demi, twin children; Dweeb, a chimpanzee; and Eve, a former film star turned criminal. Players must defeat each of the other assassins before confronting the game's final boss, Mr. and Mrs. Acme. Each character has a special ability. Players can perform close-quarter attacks which do slight damage, but the larger damage is inflicted by using weapons scattered across the stage. The weapons vary from conventional pistols, machine guns, rocket launchers, flamethrowers, and swords to more outlandish items such as hot soup or pie. Some crates and barrels can be tossed as well. If a player gets hit while they are holding a weapon, they will drop it.
The stages are large and contain multiple platforms and obstacles the player can run and jump to navigate around. The environments also employ thematic events and scenarios which can damage players and dynamically change the playing field over the course of the fight. For example, in an aquarium stage, the water tanks rupture during the fight and flood the stage. In the water are sharks which can hurt players. In another stage set on a skyscraper, the players start at the top and scale down the building as it slowly explodes. The other stages have gimmicks as well, such as planes and boats that shake and sway.
Development and release
The Outfoxies was developed by Namco and released in Japanese arcades in March 1995.[b] The game was designed by Masateru Umeda, who later on went to design Dancing Eyes (1996), a game similar to Qix (1981). The Outfoxies did not garner much attention at release. At the time, 3D games were beginning to overshadow 2D games in terms of popularity in the arcades. The few players still loyal to 2D fighting games were largely playing those developed by Capcom and SNK. Original The Outfoxies arcade boards are now rare and collectible. A PlayStation port was announced in August 1995 but was never released.
Reception and legacy
In April 1995, Game Machine listed The Outfoxies as being the fourth most popular arcade game in Japan at the time. Although it did not gather much attention at release, the game has been well received in retrospective analysis. In particular, the game has been noted for its eccentric and inordinate violence and action, similar to action films. Hardcore Gaming 101 wrote that it feels like a "ridiculously over-the-top" action film. Game*Spark wrote that it felt like a disaster film or a B-class action film. Destructoid highlighted the game's bizarre cast of characters, and wrote that the game had more "weirdness and non-stop violence" than games developed by Goichi Suda which are typically associated with those elements. Game*Spark agreed it had thematic elements consistent with those in Suda's games. Coincidentally, Suda is a fan of The Outfoxies and owns a copy which is displayed and playable at Grasshopper Manufacture's offices. Although there are thematic similarities between it and his game Killer7 (2005), he claims he learned about The Outfoxies after developing Killer7, and any such similarities are just coincidence. Both Game*Spark and Rock, Paper, Shotgun wrote that the game felt like a modern indie game. More specifically, Game*Spark and Suda compared it to Hotline Miami (2012).
The general game design was also praised. Rock, Paper, Shotgun wrote that they were constantly surprised by the variety of throwable items and the outlandish stage gimmicks. Game*Spark believed that the game's diverse stage layouts and their ability to change dynamically over time were some of its best features. Hardcore Gaming 101 agreed, writing that the stages were creative and cinematic. They believed The Outfoxies was ahead of its time and a "one of a kind" game, describing it as a cross between Rolling Thunder (1989) and Elevator Action Returns (1994).
The Outfoxies is regarded as an early example of an arena fighting game, vastly predating and possibly inspiring the Super Smash Bros. series. Destructoid listed it as number one on their list of Super Smash Bros. alternatives. GamesRadar+ wrote that it "may very well be the greatest Smash Bros. knock-off of all time" despite its release four years before the first Super Smash Bros. game. They wrote that The Outfoxies had more extravagant violence while the Super Smash Bros. series has a more playful and innocent vibe. Hardcore Gaming 101 wrote that it is different enough from Super Smash Bros. to be worth playing in its own right. The developers behind Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II drew inspiration from The Outfoxies when developing the game's four player fighting mode.
- Burns, Ed (November 22, 2012). "The Outfoxies". Hardcore Gaming 101. Archived from the original on April 22, 2018.
- Holmes, Jonathan (March 3, 2008). "Six Days to Smash Bros. Brawl: Top Five Smash Bros alternatives". Destructoid. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016.
- "【RETRO51】須田ゲーテイスト満載！？ 伝説のカルトゲーム『アウトフォクシーズ』で遊ぶ". Game*Spark (in Japanese). December 14, 2013. Archived from the original on September 21, 2016.
- Smith, Graham (October 29, 2016). "Have You Played… The Outfoxies?". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Archived from the original on December 13, 2017.
- "アウトフォクシーズ [アーケード]". www.famitsu.com. Retrieved June 5, 2019.
- The Outfoxies arcade flyer. Japan: Namco. 1995. Archived from the original on May 19, 2018.
- "Outfoxies, The". The International Arcade Museum. Archived from the original on August 20, 2014.
- "Namco '95 Line-Up". Vol. 3, no. 8. Gamefan. August 1995. p. 100. Retrieved October 13, 2019.
- "Game Machine's Best Hit Games 25 - TVゲーム機ーソフトウェア (Video Game Software)". Game Machine (in Japanese). No. 493. Amusement Press, Inc. April 15, 1995. p. 21.
- Sullivan, Lucas (September 19, 2014). "15 Smash Bros. rip-offs that couldn't outdo Nintendo". GamesRadar+. Archived from the original on November 15, 2017.
- Totilo, Stephen (September 4, 2010). "New Star Wars Multiplayer Might Remind You Of Super Smash Bros". Kotaku. Archived from the original on October 21, 2016.
- Thomas, Lucas M. (November 3, 2010). "Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II Review". IGN. Archived from the original on May 10, 2015.