Blog:Burning Fists: Force Striker (Mega CD/Sega CD)
Street Fighter II was such a phenomenon, even Sega of Japan made tepid attempts at cashing in. There was the arcade game Burning Rival, which is neither well-liked nor well-remembered. On the Master System and Game Gear, there was Masters of Combat/Buster Fight (developed by SIMS), which had a Dhalsim-like character with stretching arms and legs. Then there's this unreleased Mega CD/Sega CD game from 1994.
Burning Fists received little press and was quietly cancelled. Nevertheless, it was supposedly 80% complete, and there were two protoypes that eventually fell into the hands of Good Deal Games, which polished them up for a 2006 release.
So what do you get at 80% complete? Well, you get to choose from a motley but unmemorable cast of characters including a Japanese martial arts guy (the Ryu of the group), a Russian boxer with blue skin (the Blanka of the group, I guess), an overweight US Army guy, and a female wrestler.
The game itself, which is compatible with the six-button controller, is pretty unremarkable. You have various punches, kicks, and moves, you can block, and you can throw your opponent, but there's just nothing here that makes it stand out from other fighting games.
Most of the stages are fairly mundane as well, but a couple have nice flourishes. For example, the Daytona stage has a race car in the background that speeds off when the match is finished. A couple of the locales are interesting; I can't think of too many fighting games with an Iraq stage.
The AI was apparently beefed up for the GDG release, according to this article, but the notes on the disc say this was "canned." Either way, it's anemic most of the time. In many instances, you can spam a single attack.
What don't you get at 80% complete? Despite Good Deal Games' efforts, you don't get a bug-free game. On rare occasion, your opponent will stop moving.
And be careful not to press the start button after you win a round, or you'll activate a different bug — or perhaps it's a leftover debugging feature. The game will freeze, and you'll have to advance frames by pressing start until the word "FIGHT" forms in the next round.
One of the stages is missing: Denmark. There is no final boss battle, though you see his intro at the end of the game. You also don't get endings for each individual character; apparently these didn't work right and can't be seen in-game, but they are included as a bonus video on the disc.
There isn't even a consistent game name. The title screen says Force Striker, but other parts say Burning Fists, hence the conjoined name on the GDG release. According to Goodbye Soft, a book of unreleased MD/MCD/32X games, previous titles were Hustle Muscle and Real Fighters. (If you watch those individual endings, you'll see the characters all become "Real Fighters" after beating the boss.)
If you dig around the disc, you'll find the name of developer KAZe. Known more for pinball games like Last Gladiators on the Saturn, this would be KAZe's earliest known game for any Sega system. The company would not do another fighter until the Kamen Rider games for the PlayStation several years later. A 2ch post from 2007 backs up KAZe's involvement and says former Namco sound designer Norio Nakagata was the producer.
Speaking of sound, one of Burning Fists' strong points is the music, which seems like rejected tracks from Last Gladiators (not a bad thing). I went so far as to ask Last Gladiators composer and frequent KAZe collaborator Yusuke Takahama if he was involved; he confirmed it. ("Yes, I think I was in charge, but I do not know if the game was released.")
Overall, Burning Fists: Force Striker is a standard fighting game with glimmers of potential. It would have been decent if it was finished, but it probably would have never been a big hit.
The following video is a complete playthrough which also highlights some of the game's bugs and missing/incomplete features.