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Sonic the Fighters – Arcade

Sonic the Fighters – Arcade

Sonic the Fighters FeaturePlatform: Arcade

Developer: Sega

Publisher: Sega

Release Date (NA): June 1996

Genre: Fighting

Nerd Rating: 5.5 out of 10

Reviewed by Nerdberry

*Game reviewed from the compilation disc Sonic Gems Collection on Nintendo GameCube.

Sonic Championship

Sonic the Fighters, also known as Sonic Championship in North America, presents one of those awkward situations when a self-proclaimed Sonic aficionado says, “Yea, I’ve played every Sonic game from the 90s. Didn’t miss any of them.” And then you say 3 words and 3 words only… “Sonic the Fighters?” And their response is generally, “uh, what?” And to say that I ever heard of this game until a few years ago would be a lie. I spent a considerable amount of time in arcades in the Raleigh area, but I don’t recall ever seeing this game there. Many arcade games found their way over to a system, most of them ported only a year or so after the arcade release, but Sonic the Fighters is not one of those games. It wouldn’t make its way to a system until 2005, nearly 10 years later, as part of a Sonic compilation disc for the PlayStation 2 and Nintendo GameCube. I am fortunate enough to have this game on the GameCube, but not lucky enough to have ever played it in the arcades.

Sonic the Fighters Knuckles and Dr Eggman

Sonic the Fighters is a 3D fighting game featuring some familiar and new faces from the Sonic universe. Although technically a 3D fighting game, fighters do not have the free-roam fighting nature that they might in a game like Power Stone. This is good, however, as it makes attacking the enemy a much easier feat.

The main objective in Arcade Mode is for Sonic to fight eight opponents, collecting a chaos emerald with each defeated foe. The opponents get more difficult as you progress, making each successive fight more arduous. There isn’t a great deal of depth to Sonic the Fighters, but that doesn’t detract from the actual game itself. Being an arcade fighter, the game is appropriately short. Each fight is limited to just 30 seconds (first to win two fights wins the match), and there are only eight chaos emeralds to collect (9 stages in all). And basically, in a nutshell, that sums up Sonic the Fighters. But here at The Bacon, there’s always more.

Screenshot from the 2012 release

Screenshot from the 2012 release, featuring 8 of the 10 playable characters.

Previously I mentioned that Sonic the Fighters features some familiar and some new faces. Not all of the characters are playable, but you will battle against one or all of these fighters.* The familiar faces are Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and Dr. Eggman. These guys are mainstays in the series. Some of the less-familiar faces from the Sonic universe include Espio the Chameleon (from Knuckle’s Chaotix), Amy Rose and Metal Sonic (from Sonic CD), and Fang the Sniper (AKA Nack the Weasel in America, from Sonic Triple Trouble). And then there are the new entries making their debut on Sonic the Fighters: Bean the Dynamite and Bark the Polar Bear. Each fighter has their own set of moves and special attacks, which is one of the more unique features of Sonic the Fighters. I think the overall character list is especially fantastic as they included some of the most loved characters and a couple evil characters for all the bad kids out there. NOTE: Fang is by far the most annoying character in the game. He fires some projectile at you over and over nonstop, which is just stupid and annoying.

Honey the Cat

Honey the Cat

Sonic the Fighters features some interesting elements. First off, the Sonic franchise has never really been known for violence, so it’s obvious the developers were kind of teetering on top of a fence when they made this game. It has plenty of punching and kicking and smashing, but it sure as hell isn’t Killer Instinct or Mortal Kombat. Instead of blood gushing from a player’s body, players lose rings (which makes sense in the Sonic Universe). Rings provide the same sort of life-meter that they do in all Sonic platformers. So in a sense, if you get hit, you will throw out some rings and lose some life on your health-bar.

Sonic the Fighters Mushroom Hill Zone

Secondly, Sonic the Fighters features a true variety in stages unlike most games out there. You can fight in Mushroom Hill Zone, Green Hill Zone, Chemical Plant Zone, and various other stages such as a moving cruise ship or a flying carpet. All stages are set within a boxing-ring style setup. The variety in stages adds a much-needed visual distraction from the average gameplay that is the focal point. Flying through the desert on a magic carpet or fighting in Casino Night Zone (one of my favorite stages in Sonic the Hedgehog 2) really gives the game some incredible eye-candy.

Sonic the Fighters Casino Nights

The graphics and detailing in Sonic the Fighters is second to none for 1996, but these graphics never would have ported over to a home console with the same beauty. Fortunately, the Nintendo GameCube and PlayStation 2 are capable of handling these arcade-board graphics. The sprites are textured very well, and the stages are loaded with a truly stunning variety of colors. Although the characters might be a little blocky, we have to forgive them and remember that 3D gaming was still in its infancy.

Despite the beautiful and stunning graphics or the marvelous vibrant colors or the variety of stages, Sonic the Fighters is far from perfect. If you were to play Sonic the Fighters and then play Virtua Fighter 2, you might say, “wow, these games feel EXTREMELY similar,” and that’s because they are similar. Sonic the Fighters is anything but unique and is far too simple. It lacks any ingenuity or complexity with a severe deficiency in moves, combos, and sheer variety. Even with all of the negative aspects of this game, it’s really the lack of depth that brings the replay value down. One might struggle to get involved in Sonic the Fighters as there’s very little below the surface.

Sonic the Fighters Hyper Sonic

Overall, Sonic the Fighters isn’t the best or the worst game in the Sonic franchise, but it certainly leans heavily towards sub-par for Sonic’s expectations during the mid-90s. It’s a shame they couldn’t have made more out of this game, but at least Sonic the Fighters is playable and not the worst iteration of a Sonic game we’ve ever seen (cough Sonic Labyrinth cough). The graphics and solid gameplay make it enjoyable in short bursts, and the frantic button-mashing from stages 6 through 9 also add some frustratingly fun times. If Sonic the Fighters was more popular in North America, we might have seen a sequel! But that’s neither here nor there. The reality is that Sonic the Fighters is a simplistic fighting game with very little depth and even less replayability. But is Sonic Gems Collection worth owning? I say yes, but only for one reason… Sonic CD. PS: Good luck beating Metal Sonic. If you don’t hate your life, or Sonic the Fighters before stage 9, then you will once you get there. Talk about cheap.

Nerd Rating: 5.5 out of 10

Reviewed by Nerdberry

*All characters are playable in the PSN and Xbox Live versions of Sonic the Fighters.

Written by Nerdberry


What’s up yall? David “Nerdberry” here! I am the founder of Nerd Bacon and the current co-owner (and CEO) along with partner David “theWatchman!” I hail from North Carolina, hence my love for all things pork! Oh, you’re not familiar with NC? Well I’m not 100% sure, but I am pretty confident that NC and VA lead the nation in pork production. I could be wrong, but even if I am, I still love bacon!

Come enjoy some bacon and games with us yall.


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  3. I’ve never heard of it man. Not a huge Sonic fan anyways. The games move way too fast for me to get any good at. Nothing like a good turn-based RPG 😉 Great Review NB.

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