While the Nintendo 64 might be a good system for racing games and remakes of classic NES and Super NES games, fighting games seem to have been left behind. Those that are made, however, went from relatively average to just plain awful.
While the Saturn had quality fighters like Virtua Fighter 2 and Dead or Alive, and the PlayStation had is superior Tekken lineup, the Nintendo 64 was left with worthless junk such as Mortal Kombat Trilogy and War Gods. It’s been a year and a half since the N64 was released, and there hasn’t been one great fighting game released, until now.
Ocean, best known for their movie-based titles, has recently brought Fighter’s Destiny to the States, and not a moment too soon, as this might not only be the best fighter on the Nintendo 64, but it could also compete with the best PlayStation fighters on the market.
Fighter’s Destiny might look to the casual gamer as another clone of Virtua Fighter. Two polygon-based fighters compete in a rotating 3-D environment, trying to either knock their opponent out or send them out of the ring. Each of the characters have basic moves that appear to be taken out of Virtua Fighter or Tekken. However, that’s where the similarities end and the unique factors begin.
Whereas most 3-D fighters have a "best 2 out of 3 knockouts" rule, Destiny implies a new scoring system. Ringouts and Judge’s Decisions earn one point per round, a throwdown counts as two points, a technical knockdown or a counter-based knockdown awards three points, and the always hard-to-execute special moves award four well-deserved points.
Also, there are certain attacks that can be applied to knock your opponent out right away, resulting in the quick three points. Throws are also a high factor. Whereas other fighters have simple throws that can’t be countered, Destiny adds the new "throw gauge". Common with professional wrestling games, the throw gauge appears when a throw move is about to be set up. A throw can be countered if both the A and B buttons are pressed at the same time before the gauge goes all black. However, if the throw victim is blocking when the throw is executed, then the throw can not be countered at all, and the victim sacrifices two points to his opponent.
Even better, Destiny allows the player to build up his character. There is a new "Master’s Challenge" mode, in which a player spins a wheel consisting of two pictures, the Master and the Joker. When fighting a Master, if you beat him, then he teaches you a new move to be added to the original fighter’s repertoire. Moves can then be saved to the N64 controller pak to use in the other fighting modes.
There is a big catch though, if you’re forced to fight "the Joker," it’s a winner-take-all match. That is, if you lose against the Joker, not only do you lose the game, but you also lose the moves you have learned. And the Joker is the toughest opponent you will face. Therefore, earning new moves can be quite a risk, making you sometimes wonder if you should quit while ahead.
Visually, compared to other fighting games on the N64, Destiny is nothing short of stunning. It features ultra-smooth 30 frames-per-second animation with almost no slowdown whatsoever, even when the screen is filled with explosive spark effects and blazing light sourcing. Heck, even during the Winner screen which utilizes a unique picture-in-picture camera, there is no slowdown at all. This technique was used once before in FIFA 64, but it failed miserably.
There’s only one critical flaw I wish I could see fixed, and that is the announcer. Not since Wave Race have I heard such an annoying announcer. Fortunately, the character voices are appropriate for each of their settings, and the music is excellent. If a fight game is an absolute necessary, and the N64 is the only system you have, this is definitely the one to get.