The classic warrior from Nebula M78 makes his triumphant entry into the 3D polygon universe courtesy of BANPRESTO.
「ULTRAMAN FIGHTING EVOLUTION」(FE) is the first game of the「ULTRAMAN FIGHTING EVOLUTION」series of 3D V.S. fighting games. And unless I'm mistaken, it marks the entry of Japan's most revered tokusatsu super hero into the 3D polygon game world.
■ULTRA 3D POLYGON FIGHTING !
I think the first thing people should know about ULTRAMAN FE is that it is a technical fighting game. Of course don't be expecting something of the caliber of the VIRTUA FIGHTER series, but it is on a somewhat similar line nonetheles.
The gameplay in ULTRAMAN FE revolves mostly around precise command input, since your opponent, be it CPU or human, can easily exploit any misplaced punch or kick from your part to bring in some serious pain.
And speaking of which, I think the CPU A.I. in this game deserves special mention because it is actually a lot fun to tackle. Most notably on the harder difficulty settings, the CPU can be very challenging and clever, yet never cheap. So if you lose you know it was because of lack of skill from your part and not due to some cheap A.I. behavior. Likewise, because the CPU can put up a good, decent fight - trying to get pass its guard is often very fun and satisfying.
ULTRAMAN FE has a total of 12 playable characters. 8 will be available from the beginning and the rest can be unlocked by clearing the game multiple times.
● Ultra Crusaders :
● ULTRAMAN ● ULTRA SEVEN ● ULTRAMAN TARO
● Kaiju :
● ALIEN BALTAN ● ELEKING ● DADA ● KING JOE ● ALIEN METRON ● GOMORA ※ ● ALIEN MAGMA ※ ● ACE KILLER ※ ● ZETTON ※ ※Unlockable character.
■ULTRA DYNAMIC ANIMATION !
One of the game's most laured features is its dynamic character animation which successfully mimicks the way the real actors moved in the TV series. Furthermore, BANPRESTO also did a good job at giving each character and their moves the appropiate weight. After all we have to remember that the characters are supposed to be super giants, so it was important that they felt and controlled as such.
But while ULTRAMAN FE does a lot of things right and is certainly a decent 3D fighting game on its own. It is also (regrettably so) lacking in a few key aspects.
I know this probably will come as a surprise, but I think ULTRAMAN FE does a better job at being a great regular 3D fighting game than at being a great tokusatsu/super hero inspired one. The problem I feel, is that the game is missing the unique edge that you would normally expect from these type of (usually) alternative fighting games.
Gameplay-wise ULTRAMAN FE just doesn't feel special enough. The game certainly could have used more special attacks, a better grappling system, and just a more over-the-top feel. The game is also lacking any environmental interaction, which is of course very disappointing. And more specially when even the intro CGI movie shows the characters crashing the buildings around them.
But undoubtedly the game's biggest lowpoint is the lack of a story mode and unique character endings. That alone takes away a lot of the game's possible lasting value.
I have to say that I find very strange that BANPRESTO didn't released ULTRAMAN FE as an arcade game first. I mean, the game totally looks and plays like the type of 3D fighting game you expected to see on the game centers of the mid '90s. I also think that the huge legion of ULTRAMAN fans out there (to whom this game is aimed at, really) would've gotten a bigger kick out of ULTRAMAN FE it had came out at the game centers first.
Still, ULTRAMAN FE is without a doubt the best 32-bit ULTRAMAN fighting game, period. It is a galaxy away from horrendous titles like「ULTRAMAN POWRED」(3DO) and「ULTRAMAN TIGA & ULTRAMAN DYNA : NEW GENERATIONS」(PS). And of course it is also pretty decent 3D fighting game on its own.
However, I still consider that for a console exclusive fighting game from 1998, ULTRAMAN FE is lacking in content and lasting value.