Review by Peter Oliver
One of the most interesting Japanese specific genres in the game market has to be the female fighting game. Games such as Asuka 120% have garnered critical acclaim ranging from enthusiastic to mediocre, and more and more games falling into this category are released all the time.
FIST is another such game, but this time in 3-D rather then the sprite based 2-D games currently dominating the market. Produced by Imagineer, perhaps best known domestically for their 3-D fighter on the Nintendo 64, Fighter's Destiny, FIST is a game that tries very hard to be trendy and innovative but fails on both counts.
The game concerns six girls who are competing for the chance to be idol singers at an audition. Sort of a violent way to reach pop stardom, but definitely unique. 2-D character designs are excellent, and the packaging proudly displays both the character art as well as photos of the seiyuu (female characters only) that portray them in the game. You have Bunny Mei (CV: Mariko Kohda), a Playboy bunny(!), Tokikaze (CV: Atsuko Itanaka), a ninja, Masami Dotsuki (CV: Akemi Okamura), a sports team mascot who fights in a bear suit (no, I said bear, not naked!), Maria Christel (CV: Kikuko Inoue), who looks like she hails from a fantasy RPG, Ai Momoyama (CV: Ikue Ohtani), a gymnast, and Marin Aoki (CV: Kyohiko Hikami), your typical cute sailor suit wearing high school student. There are also two male characters in the game, both unremarkable.
Booting up the game treats you to an animated FMV sequence exactly like the beginning of an anime television show, right down to the karaoke lyrics at the bottom of the screen. The video quality is average -- though the frame rate is high there's a lot of artifacting which causes an overall drop in resolution. The theme song itself isn't terribly exciting -- overly bubbly idol J-Pop - if you find yourself really enjoying it, the game does include a CD single with both the opening and ending themes.
Once the FMV finishes you are presented with a menu screen where you can choose from Scenario, Vs., Options, Ranking and Card. There's no training mode, but believe me you won't need it.
The game's 3-D graphics are unfortunately extremely poor. Characters resemble little more than loosely attached polygonal pieces; mostly tubes, ovals and spheres devoid of texture. Little attempt was made to actually model the characters into something attractive. This could almost be forgivable if the game played well, but it doesn't. Only three buttons are used - punch, kick and guard -- and forget trying combos, they don't seem to exist. A typical fight consists of slapping and poking at your opponent until she finally falls over. The response is sluggish and the onscreen motion is horrific. This game was obviously overproduced to an extreme -- while putting together the pretty package someone forgot to write the game.
Despite all this there are a couple of features that would be neat to see in a better game. For example, after a couple of bouts in Scenario mode you are treated to a slightly risqué full screen 2-D image of your chosen fighter in a bathing suit or similar state of (un)dress (closely resembling the 'eyecatch" found in television anime), and they are very nice. It also serves as incentive to complete the game since you will see two of these images in the course of completing it with each fighter. I think this is a nice idea - most games only include such imagery at the close of the game.
Upon finishing the game you'll see your chosen fighter finally become an idol star, and unlock a special FMV sequence unique to that character that can only be viewed from the Options menu. It features footage of character design sketches and color artwork as well as images of the contributing seiyuu. These sequences can be saved on your memory card for later viewing as you unlock them, but you must make sure to manually save since the game hasn't any auto save feature.
Another cool feature in the Options menu lets you select each fighter and view her in 3-D from any angle. You can rotate the X and Y-axis with the D-pad and check out the handiwork involved in creating it. In this game it just helps illustrate how badly each character was constructed, but in a better game, like Tekken 3 or Dead or Alive, this would be phenomenal.
No real skill at Japanese is required for this game, as it's very straightforward. Most of the Japanese text is in the options menu and can be puzzled out fairly easily. However, I'd only recommend buying this game if you find it really cheap someplace in a bargain bin; it'll only hold your attention for a couple of hours.
Ratings (out of 10)