Action Fighter Review

Developer: Sega Publisher: Sega
Release Date: 1986 Also On: None

Action Fighter is easily the Master System’s answer to “Spy Hunter” for the NES. Of course, this is not completely fair. Since it was common for game companies to share ideas, I can’t simply say they copied. In fact, to use another example, Psycho Fox is nearly a duplicate to the NES game Kid Kool. It was a practice used early on to some extent and this little beauty is a perfect example of how it can go wrong.

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The graphics are somewhat decent. You’re greeted by a fairly impressive title screen as a nice car pulls up in your face, which in turn is the very car you’ll be controlling as the game progresses. Scrolling is fast and smooth. Character animations are well done, but very repetitive. You come across the same enemies over and over, except for the bosses, which are a bit different, though they’re pretty much just larger enemies. The scenery around you is fairly continuous, with hardly any variety whatsoever. It gets old quickly.

This was an earlier game, but when you see the opening screen you’ll know they could have done more with it. Buildings, for example, are way out of proportion. Your car is essentially as big as them, and they look to be perhaps ten feet high based on the look of them, with one person fitting in them from head to toe. It wasn’t well done at all. Of course, the screen moves past such things fairly quick, so I suppose they were hoping you wouldn’t notice. Regardless of this, the main issue still stands: they’re way too repetitive. One other thing I noticed that got to me was that when your car received its jet engines, the one on the left is completely off center when you are getting ready to take off.

The game has nice opening music, and the main song at first is really nice and fits the mood well. At least it does until you hear it about twenty times over ten minutes. It repeats endlessly. There are different tunes for the ground and the sky, but they never change. It’s always just the same music here and there with a lame boss tune thrown in for kicks. I’ve seen other Master System games from this time period and know they could have done way better. Sound effects are, on the other hand, not too bad. There aren’t many, and they are reused quite a lot, but they’re better than the music in the long run.

The gameplay in Action Fighter is simple. Apparently, this game is a spin-off of “Hang On,” and you actually control the motorcycle at first. There are only five levels in all, and it’s pretty short. You drive about, shooting enemies, which for some strange reason are sometimes ambulances, and eventually see letters coming onto the screen. With each one you collect you progressively build your car, and then it comes together and you control it.

You can switch from the car to the motorcycle anytime you want, but it is better to stay as the car since this is how you progress. There are six letters in all, A through F. Once you get “F,” your car will be equipped with jet engines and you’ll take to the sky. The game shifts from ground to sky on every level. Sometimes it ends in the sky, other times it ends on the ground. Probably the nicest feature of this game is that you are first given a timer set at 999 seconds. Once the timer goes down, then you start to lose lives if you die, otherwise the timer just goes down a bit and you keep going. It really works well. However, this is about all that does.

The game is full of annoying repetition. Every enemy you see approaches you with the same patterns. You’ll see the same squadron of four helicopters at least 50 times in this game. Of course, that’s an exaggeration, but you get what I mean. Bosses are way too easy and simply pathetic. For example, the one boss is three large helicopters. You blow up one and the next one comes down. What’s the problem? Well, they’re all essentially the same helicopter, so why not just have one helicopter that takes more hits instead of three? It just seems counterintuitive to me. It’s generally decent, but it can be tiresome if you sit through it all.

I was attempting to beat it last night to get an idea what the ending is like, but instead I found a glitch in the programming that prevented me from beating it. The game also has a tendency at throwing corners at you too quickly. You’ll crash here and there several times before you learn to avoid this. It really annoyed me at first, especially since power-ups are scant. You have your normal puny shots and then missiles. That’s it, but at least the controls are responsive.

This isn’t a very creative game. It borrows the Spy Hunter concept and adds a bit to it, but nothing to really catch your attention. If the flying areas were more interesting or if there were more power-ups other than just missiles, it would have been better, but it’s completely lacking. There was so much they could have done with this and they simply didn’t.

Action Fighter is incredibly easy, and I would like to beat it someday, so I’ll most likely come back to it to see the ending, but something tells me when I reach this goal I will hardly ever pick it up again. There just isn’t enough here to keep you interested. If it wasn’t for that nifty limbo glitch that I discovered last night, it would have been over. In addition, of course, the glitch occurred on the final level. The “President” in this game that gives you the go ahead to defeat this boss and that doesn’t even have a name, it’s just “President.”

In conclusion, this really isn’t a game you should make it a point to own unless you’re a collector. Actually, that’s not good enough, you should really only be a collector who insists upon having everything if you want this title because it’s one of the blandest games I’ve ever played. It lacks everything even though it had it all there, right in front of it, to do something fun. It just didn’t, and it’s dismal.

Graphics: 5
Sound: 4
Gameplay: 4
Creativity: 3
Replay Value/Game Length: 4
Final: 4
Written by Stan Review Guide

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