Famiclone: Your TOTALLY UNAUTHORIZED Guide To Pirate Famicom Fighters
by chris kohler

It’s a good thing I didn’t have that much money when I was a kid, because I probably would have blown it on the stupidest crap.

Case in point – I used to always send in those cards they used to have in EGM where you could ask to receive more information in the mail from any of their advertisers. This got me some boring stuff like Funco catalogs, but also ended up bringing things like super-cool newsletters published by Bandai and Working Designs. And sometimes I’d end up with black-and white, one-page flyers from the most screwed-up mail order companies ever. One such company advertised, for fifty dollars, an NES version of Street Fighter II.

Of course, I had no idea what this was and wanted very much to buy it just so I could find out. I’m so, so glad I didn’t bother.

It came, of course, out of the booming business that certain East Asian countries with little regard to copyright issues were doing in pirated Famicom systems and software in those days. And in the days when Street Fighter II was the king of all games, you could make a killing by making a halfway decent Famicom port of it. And apparently you could still make money even if the game wasn’t anywhere near halfway decent.

Through the, uh, miracle of technology, the rest of the world can finally experience these craptacular games for themselves. And to celebrate the 20th anniversary of a video game system that will never die so long as sketchy, unshaven men run back-alley electronics stores in Hong Kong, I bring you this exciting guide to pirate Famicom fighting games.

A highly specialized team of retarded monkeys will rate each game on a scale of negative one to negative ten. Assume that –1 means “terrible, but less so” and –10 to mean “you have to work really hard to make something this poor.” And if any Taiwanese Famicom pirate game manufacturers are thinking of withholding advertising from Insert Credit based on these reviews, remember that NEGATIVE FIVE IS AN AVERAGE SCORE!

Street Fighter II: The World Warrior

    Amazingly enough, the “designers” (Yoko Soft) were able to find enough space in this 2-meg cartridge to nearly replicate the opening of the game. Of course, said “designers” decided to take a more pacifistic route as the two men in the opening, rather than punch each other, now stand stock-still looking at each other as the camera moves upwards. A fine example to set for the kids; better maybe than the original, which I think under today’s legislation would constitute a separate hate crime being committed each time the attract mode loops.

The characters and backgrounds seem to have been drawn in MS Paint with the line tool, and I’m sure that’s not really a far-out assessment of what actually occurred. There is absolutely no attempt made to squeak around the four-color sprite limitation of the Famicom, nor is there any attempt to make appealing use of those precious few colors. On the plus side, characters are actually pretty large for the Famicom, which means they fall the hell apart as soon as they touch each other, being made out of a stack of precariously placed sprites.

FUN: -5
    Obviously, the gameplay is completely wrong. This is going to become what we call a ‘theme’ in these reviews. However, this might be one of the more-fun versions simply by virtue of the fact that the special moves execute correctly about half the time and hit the enemy about half of that. This might seem like a rather low percentage, but it’s pretty high up there when you compare it to the games that follow.

   In that the game that is being replicated is the original SF2, it’s actually pretty good that they managed to get five out of the game’s twelve characters in here. In the one-player– the game’s only mode – you can pick between Ryu, Chun Li, Zangief, and Guile. Oddly enough, all of them have their win quotes in English. Their stages are all sort-of accurate, except the crowd of cheering drunks in Zangief’s factory have, apparently, grown random appendages on their necks for this edition. Beat the other three characters and you face none other than Viga [sic] who jumps back and forth during the match doing ridiculously powerful Psycho Crushers. So that wins it a point for accuracy, anyway.

Fighter 12 Peoples Street VI

   I might be going out of chronological order here, but I’d like to illustrate one game that exemplifies all of the clichés about pirate Famicom software, all rolled into one lovely package. Fighter 12 Peoples Street VI, apart from having the single best title screen ever devised and the most obtusely impenetrable of names, has graphics even worse than its predecessor Street Fighter II. Considering that Fighter 12 Peoples Street VI is supposedly a full FOUR GAMES after SFII, you’d think there would have been a little more work done.

I mean, if they were going to steal backgrounds, why not steal them from, say, SFII instead of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game? The character color schemes and sprites are revoltingly poor, they flicker constantly, and they animate choppily if at all. The map screen takes the cake, however, because there is no map – simply a collection of large text in the approximate place the text would be if there were a map behind it. Also note that Zangief’s country is now the USSA.

FUN: -9
   Street Fighter II (the above) is like a masterpiece of Miyamotoesque gameplay compared to Fighter Peoples 12 VI Street. The moves never connect, special moves do not come out ever, and the characters float around like they were in Virtua Fighter or some shit. The only thing that saves this game from a –10 is the fact that it’s so much fun to look at the title screen. You can just call your friends up, have them come over, and just look at it for hours, coating yourself in snot and drool as you laugh and sob uncontrollably.

   For all its faults, at least Yoko Soft’s SFII didn’t outright lie about its features. This will become another ‘theme’ in the reviews to come; the wild and unabashed exaggeration of how many characters are in the game. Compared to later games, Fighter VI 12 Street Peoples is a paragon of restraint for merely doubling the actual number. As for real characters, there’s Ryu, Guile, Chun Li, E.Honda, and Blanka. I have no idea if there are any bosses since it is impossible to win the first fight.

Street Fighter 97 Zero 2

GRAPHICS: -9    Street Fighter 97 Zero 2 used a whopping 6 megabit cartridge, so you’d think it would contain some exciting features. And you’re right, I guess, although the full amount of that memory seems to have been wasted on the intro scenes, which come not-so-close to replicating the real thing. Once you get past the opening glitter, however, you’ll find that SFA97Z2 is a step down from Fighter Peoples Street VI 12, which in and of itself was a step down from regular ol’ SFII.

The characters are miniscule and made up of (you guessed it) four colors each, but at least there is some effort here to make the color choices good ones. However, the fact that they are like tiny versions of their real selves onscreen makes it hard to really care that the “designers” chose complementary colors for their little outfits.

FUN: -8
   Looking at the attract mode for this game is worth a point of fun alone, because it’s crazy to see a pseudo-SF Alpha opening on the Famicom anyway. It gets another point for being “copyright” HUMMER SOFT. Once that’s over, however, it’s tough to care about playing this game as the fights are all just random button-mashing affairs anyhow. At least Sodom is in this game, which, if I was doing little joke headers for each of these games, would lend itself to a little joke header like “Street Fighter 97 Zero 2: Pirate Games Get Sodom-ized.”

   Street Fighter 97 Zero 2 doesn’t exactly shout out in the title screen some exaggerated number of characters, probably because there are already two other numbers in the title alone and Street Fighter 97 Zero 2 27 Peoples would have been number-overload for the kind of morons who would have bought this thing in 1997 anyway. But that doesn’t mean it’s not innocent of any wrongdoing – the character select screen has the game’s nine characters shown three times each, all jumbled up so as to confuse the hapless buyer into thinking that there really are 27 characters. In fact, there are nine: Ryu, Chun Li, Nash, Guy, Ken, Sodom, Gouki, Sagat, and Adon. All of these are assumedly played expertly by the 6 megabits of computer AI, but since I gave up on the game about halfway through the first fight, I’ll never know.

King Of Fighters 97

   The first thing you should notice about King Of Fighters 97, besides the fact that its name hasn’t been altered or any numbers increased haphazardly, is that it has an even nicer intro than SFA97Z2’s. Of course, all the pretty still screens in the world won’t distract you from the fact that the whole thing is written in atrocious English that sometimes simply moves to the nonsensical. BREAK A SPINE R…

FUN: -9
   Once you get into the actual game, you’ll notice that there are actually Team and single-character modes, which when you think about it is not bad for a crappy pirate game. Of course, the matches themselves still feature absolutely no gameplay whatsoever, and I guess that’s fair. The team-based character select screen does manage to cover up, for a little while anyway, the fact that the characters are doubled (or tripled, I can’t be bothered to look). Genius.

   High points for accuracy here – the shitty SNKglish was lovingly reproduced from the original series, of course, and with all the things that had to be cut, the “designers” made absolutely sure that Mai Shiranui’s boobs still jiggled. And really, that’s all that matters.

Kart Fighter

   This is the most “original” game I could find in this mess, if a fighting game using all the characters from Super Mario Kart can actually be called “original.” At the very least, it’s not a copy of a fighting game, and as such it has very little to live up to. The characters are big and cartoony, looking, well, like Chinese ripoffs of Mario et al. The programmers got over the four-color sprite limit by building the characters out of a few differently colored sprites. This is quite a good idea, but the resultant flicker means that characters will start to fall apart every now and then, especially when they touch close together. Which never happens in a fighting game.

FUN: -3
   Peach in a little mini-skirt version of her royal dress, slit precariously up her thigh, adds a few fun points to this one. The gameplay isn’t all that terrible either, at least compared to some of these other games. It’s at least as good as, for example, TMNT Tournament Fighters on the NES (from which the code running some of these other games was stolen). The sheer hilarity of watching Noko Noko punch Peach right in her face is worth it, too.

ACCURACY: -5    Of course, when Nintendo finally did make a fighting game with all these characters, it was markedly different than imagined. I should note, however, that some of the similarities to Kart Fighter are interesting if inadvertent: witness Mario and Luigi’s jumping-punch, for example, or Bowser’s shell spinning. Ah, who am I kidding, this is still garbage.

Tekken 2

   Jesus fucking Christ. I mean, I understand that companies releasing pirate Famicom versions of other peoples’ fighting games necessarily have to have massive, massive stores of chutzpah from which to draw on daily. Between the out-and-out copyright infringement on which is piled a mass of lies about what is even in the game, you have got to really just have testicles the size of small planets. But the sheer cojones that it takes to release a Famicom version of Tekken 2, I don’t even want to think about.

What’s immediately hilarious about this version of Tekken is that, on a relative scale, the graphics are actually good. Between the large, colorful characters and the multi-scrolling backgrounds (!), I think these guys actually came close, not to Tekken of course, but to a bad licensed NES game. And isn’t that remarkable. You get a gold star for the day!

FUN: -7
    I’m quickly running out of ways to explain to you that these games are not fun. I wish I could say, though, that I didn’t understand why people bought them anyway. Because I get it. We all did the same damned thing, buying shitty NES versions of what used to be fun arcade games. Remember buying Strider? Or Bart vs. Whatever? Or Double Dragon III? Were our crappy ports really superior just because they were made by Acclaim? They might have had fewer bugs and better graphics, but not by that much. The English was just as bad in some of them too. And yet, we played them; and I’m sure quite a few little and not-so-little Chinese kids loved the shit out of Famicom Tekken.

    Maybe it’s my own feelings toward the actual games, but I think this comes pretty close to matching the confusing button-mashfest that is a game of Tekken. I want to stop playing at about the same point in the opening match, that’s for sure. Also, maybe just for fun, sometimes the game loads up with a title screen that reads Tekken 2, and sometimes the screen reads Toshinden. I guess this was a ploy to throw Interpol off the scent.

Mortal Kombat 3 Special 56 Peoples

    I’m not sure whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing that RockNES can’t seem to accurately emulate Mortal Kombat Special 56 Peoples; that is to say I don’t know if having the game’s backgrounds in place would accentuate or detract from the gameplay. Considering that the original Mortal Kombat’s backgrounds were made out of things like plastic dollar-store Buddha statues that were “motion-captured” with a shitty digital camera, it’s probably the latter (though I’m not sure how Chinese ripoff artists circa 1994 could do any worse). To be fair, of course, I should note that for all I know the actual game’s backgrounds really are a bunch of random text characters.

FUN: -3
    Mortal Kombat 3 Special 56 Peoples has become something of an ubiquitous in-joke among the kind of people who joke about these things, mostly because of its absolutely breaking the mold in regards to exaggerating the number of characters in the game. By MK3S56P math, the Jaguar is a 256-bit system, Marvel vs. Capcom 2 has something like three hundred characters, and my penis is the approximate length of an adult cobra.

    Mortal Kombat 3 Special 56 Peoples has atrocious graphics, slow gameplay, poor hit detection, a cripplingly limited move set, cheap computer AI, bugs out to here, and a character roster featuring a embarrassing number of palette-swapped fighters. So it’s basically exactly like the original Mortal Kombat 3.

chris kohler has a pirate clone as well

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Street Fighter II

Fighter 12 Peoples Street VI

Street Fighter 97 Zero 2

King Of Fighters 97

Kart Fighter

Tekken 2

Mortal Kombat 3 Special 56 Peoples