by Atari

Fight For Life is both the title of Atari's 3-D fighter for the Jaguar, and a good description of the company's history over the last few years. For the purpose of this review, we won't bring up the company's struggles except to mention one important fact: With Atari now nothing more than a defunct brand name owned by JTS, Inc., Fight For Life (FFL) may well be the last game ever released and published by Atari. Being less than a big fan of most fighting games, I must admit it was my desire to own the last thing that Atari would ever put out by itself that drove me to purchase FFL. However, once I got it home, I was pleasantly surprised by what FFL offers the gamer.

The premise of the game is simple: you died, and on your way to Heaven or Hell, you end up playing a Jag game (which is more like Hell for many ;) OK, actually, you end up as part of a fighting tournament put on for the amusement of the "Gatekeeper". There are eight fighters in the tournament, each of whom has died an early death, and each of whom can be granted a second chance at life by winning the Gatekeeper's tournament.

Every time you defeat an opponent, you do a little victory dance, and you get to steal two of the opponent's moves. In other words, you start the tournament with very limited moves of your own, but each time you win a match, you get to rip off a couple moves to help you progress. Like most fighting games, you have to win two out of three matches to defeat each opponent. Eventually, if you beat all seven other lost souls, you will have earned 14 extra moves. The game gives you a password that allows you to access the moves you have stolen, which will come in handy at the end when there's still one huge task ahead of you: fighting the Gatekeeper himself!

Back to the eight fighters for a minute. The manual lists each of their names, their backgrounds, and how they died. While it's somewhat creative, some of the deaths sound more like something I would of made up writing a fictional story in junior high. For example, there's "Jenny, Worldwide Girl" who is from Arizona but traveled everywhere from Bolivia to Yemen disguised as a boy. She was becoming quite a martial arts expert until her light aircraft was shot down by a ground-to-air missile. As Homer Simpson might say, "Doh!" When you fight as Jenny, you'll see she's rather attractive (but still a videogame character, mind you!), and she is not afraid to let you know it (shouting "I'm so pretty" during her victory dance).

As for the fights themselves, they are not of the Mortal Kombat/Ultra Vortek variety. These fights take a long time to complete, usually minutes, not seconds. Certainly, FFL qualifies as a deliberate game. If you don't mind long fights with few moves early on, then you will enjoy the game. While you can fight against the computer opponent, you might find it more fun with the length of the fights to play against a friend. However, if you want to use all the combos right away during short fights, then FFL is not the game for you.

Neither is it the game for you if you expect the graphics to look like Tekken 2 or Virtua Fighter 2 on the PlayStation and Saturn, respectively. If you are spoiled by the visuals in those games, you will notice that the Jag is not meant for such 3-D action. That's not to say FFL isn't well done. On the contrary, the graphics are decent and look much better than many of the early screenshots of the game. Still, it doesn't have quite the look or the fast action of its counterparts on other systems.

Some of the nicer options in the game include a wide range of music that you can change during the fights (some fights last long enough to play Hey Jude ;) and also, the replays are well done. You can zoom in or out, controlling the motion frame-by-frame, and even rotate the camera up, down and around the fighters. Find just the right angle and you can get a nice zoom into Jenny's butt :) While playing the game, you can also choose between a static or rotating camera. The rotating camera works much the same way as the one in White Men Can't Jump, and it offers the best view of the action.

In addition, the password feature I mentioned earlier comes in quite handy if you're short on time. Say for example you defeat a couple opponents but don't want to keep playing, you can write down the password, enter it the next time you select your character, and you are right back where you left off, special moves and all. And by the way, the Pro Controller is supported in FFL, with the X, Y, Z and fingertip buttons all playing a role.

FFL is not the best fighting game ever to appear on a system, nor is it even the best fighting game on the Jag (try Ultra Vortek and you'll see what I mean). Still, it is a 3-D fighter, unlike 2-D games such as Ultra Vortek, Primal Rage, etc. And while 3-D games aren't considered to be the strong suit of the Jaguar, programmer Francois Bertrand has still managed to create a very respectable game.

Title Fight For Life
Publisher Atari
System Atari Jaguar
Graphics 6
Sound 8
Gameplay 7
Replay Value 7
Overall 7
Reviewer Patrick Holstine

Go to previous page