Amiga Anarchy: Body Blows/Body Blows Galactic

Hey, kids! Do you like Street Fighter 2? Well, why not spend your hard earned allowance on its new Amiga port?

Actually, let's not.

Actually, let’s not.

So, the Amiga version of Street Fighter 2 has ended up as a complete mockery of everything that made the original great. The replacement of Ken’s girlfriend Eliza with a broom in a dress being just one of the list of grievances. Wipe your tears, though, because Team 17, those people you keep hearing are supposed to be really good at Amiga games, have the game for you!

"Hi, we're Team 17, creators of Worms and pretty much literally nothing else for over 20 years."

“Hi, we’re Team 17, creators of Worms, the series which we must never, ever stop making games for, or we will instantly go bankrupt.”

Fighting games were still getting their legs in 1993, and there were no real rules. No established mechanics, no expectations for port quality, and if you weren’t Capcom or Midway, you were nothing. Sure, there was SNK as well, but this was at the point when their games were, ah… less than accesible to the average player. Not to mention that if you wanted to play them on anything remotely decent, you had to shell out horrendous amounts of money for their console.

The Amiga had fighting games in the past, sure. The aforementioned SF2 port had come out the previous year, and the Mortal Kombat port was fairly recent. But what Team 17 felt it needed was something fresh and unique. Something that would use the Amiga’s unique capabilties as a game machine to prove that anything the arcades could do, it could do better!

It would fail horribly.

So, when you boot up the game, this is what you get:

Look smug while you can, frog. Lara Croft's gunning for you and your corporate-sponsored ass.

Look smug while you can, frog. Lara Croft’s gunning for you and your corporate-sponsored ass.

You get four screens of this for two entirely different games before the game will let you see the menu. I think that’s more than a little suspicious, honestly. Somewhere at Team 17, there must have been a desperate programmer, trying in vain to get the customer to avoid playing Body Blows by playing anything else in the most passive agressive manner possible. You’re a good man, secret rebellious programmer, but I’ve got work to do.

"If we keep describing everything as brilliant, you'll play something else, right? Right?"

“If we keep describing everything as brilliant, you’ll play something else, right? Right?”

And so, after a minute’s worth of loading, we get the standard .MOD music, and a title screen so boring I haven’t bothered to screencap it. The options menu gives the standard settings for time and rounds, although no setting for difficulty. Instead, we get an option for “Arcade Skill”, which starts at On. I quickly flick it to Off, figuring this won’t backfire on me in any way.

The fight may end, but the battle to see who has the biggest eyebrows will rage for years to come.

The fight may end, but the battle to see who has the biggest eyebrows will rage for years to come.

So, we’ve got our heroes right here: Taiwanese Bootleg Terry Bogard, Not Balrog We Promise, a shaolin monk, and Taiwanese Bootleg Terry Bogard Without A Hat. It looks like a pretty small roster, and in fairness, you DO get to choose from the rest of the game’s selectable fighters. But only if you’re in two player mode, for some inconcievable reason. There’s actually a version of this game for the more powerful range of AGA Amiga computers, where you CAN select any character for the one player mode, along with some graphical improvement. Sadly, this is not that version.

I have to be honest, a shaolin monk wasn’t really something you saw in a fighting game that often. Well, there was Liu Kang, but…

Calling Liu Kang a Shaolin monk would be like calling battery acid a 'tasty beverage'.

Calling Liu Kang a Shaolin monk would be like calling battery acid a ‘tasty beverage’.

I went with Dan, partly because he had the biggest eyebrows, and partly because he shared a namesake with Street Fighter’s forever loser, Dan Hibiki. Only this Dan probably doesn’t have a tenth of the charm.

body blows_disk1_008

So, we’re up against Yitu. Let’s get this fight under —

body blows_disk1_009

Remember when I talked about that thing you could do with WHDLoad in Amiga GameBase to make your games run faster? No such luck here, either. Base Jumpers was a one disk game, too, but here, we’re in for the long haul. And so, after swapping the disk as told, I steel my will, getting ready for a —

body blows_disk3_001

Did I mention Amiga emulation was a complete pain in the ass? After two rounds of disk swapping, finally, finally, the fight begins.

And we very soon begin to wish it hadn't.

And we very soon begin to wish it hadn’t.

All right, let’s take a look at our fighters, now that we get a look at them outside of their tiny mugshots. Yitu here looks like an especially angry Ryu cosplayer.  Dan… well… there’s not much to say about him. He’s about as generic of a character as you can get without turning on a King of Fighters game.

For those of you who don’t play many fighting games, that’s what we call a ‘burn’.

So, how’s the gameplay? Well, I could go into it a few ways, but let me put it like this.

You might think i managed to avoid this move. You'd be wrong.

You might think i managed to avoid this move. You’d be wrong.

To phrase it in a way that doesn’t involve a picture, it’s a mess. I highly doubt that anybody involved with this game ever played Street Fighter 2, or at least anything beyond the arcade version. Let’s break it up a bit:

1. The controls. They’re awful. Movement’s stiff at best, and the attacks… well, here’s the thing. The Amiga only had one button, so Team 17 had the challenge of finding a way to fit the 20 or so moves of your average Street Fighter onto one button. They did this by making it so you have to hold down the button and then hit a direction. It’s almost something sort of like Smash Brothers, but while that game was easy to pick up, this is just stiff and awkward. Try to pull one move, and there’s like a 50% chance you’ll end up pulling something else entirely.

2. The gameplay. You’d think that one button would mean that you’d be able to get a handle of this game pretty fast, but it just doesn’t feel right at all. There’s barely any impact to your hits besides the fact that one of the health bars goes down a little, and every match feels like it involves going up to the other guy and attempting to spam your best move until somebody dies. The controls can’t handle trying to play with any sense of strategy, so you might as well give up and flail. The hits themselves barely do barely any damage, so you never get the satisfaction that you would in SF2 of pulling one big, well timed hit.

Oh, yeah, speaking of spamming the best moves, every character gets one ‘special’ move. Well, more one ‘special’ move and a bunch of normal moves that might qualify if you want to stretch the use of the word “special” as far as it can possibly go. It might sound weak, but this WAS the time when Guile had a grand total of two moves. …OK, it’s still pretty weak.

To actually use this special move, you have to stand still and hold down the fire button for a couple of seconds. If you manage to do that without getting your face punched in, you have to wait for a meter to fill up. Once the meter fills up, THEN you do your special move, and the meter grows longer. Unless you’re the AI, which means we segue into…

3. The ball-twistingly painful AI.

Yitu here says "Secret technique" when he wins a round. You know what that secret technique is? FUCKING CHEATING.

Yitu here says “Secret technique” when he wins a round. You know what that secret technique is? FUCKING CHEATING.

The AI in this game operates on a level that Goro and Geese could only possibly dream of. The AI will always know what you’re doing. It will always know how to counter what you’re doing, and then how to punish you for rising up against it. The AI, you see, doesn’t follow your rule about sitting and waiting for five seconds to pull off one special move, meaning it can interrupt anything you do whenever it wants. And don’t even try jumping, or else Yitu will do his shadow dash thing, a move that, should be pointed out, does not go into the air in the slightest. Every. Single. Time.

Somewhere, somebody's irony meter exploded with the force of a nuclear bomb.

Somewhere, somebody’s irony meter exploded with the force of a nuclear bomb.

So, we can write off Body Blows as a complete failure. Surely Lemon Amiga, the site where Amiga fans gather together to discuss this sort of thing, would agree, right?

BodyBlowsScore

I’ll be honest, that’s a point or two less than I figured it would actually get. Still, guys, that’s nearly a 6. We’re talking an ‘above average’ here. There’s nostalgia, and then there’s straight out Stockholm Syndrome.

A year later, Team 17 didn’t learn their lesson. And apparently neither did I, because I’m playing the sequel, Body Blows Galactic.

No, no, no! First you have "The Revenge", and THEN you go to space! Did Ashens teach you nothing?

No, no, no! First you have “The Revenge”, and then the world tour, and THEN you go to space and/or time travel! Did Ashens teach you nothing?

The whole ‘Body Blows in space’ gimmick reminds me of a Homestar Runner cartoon. Specifically, 1:05 to 1:40. If you’re too lazy to watch the video, it’s about a cartoon about a fictional hair metal band called Limozeen. And they’re in space. With the way one character brings up the rather valid point that there’s no reason for them to be in space, it made me think straight to this game.

Also, watch the whole thing. I can promise you it’s probably funnier than I am. Oh, right, the game.

No, I have no idea what that yellow blotch is.

No, I have no idea what that yellow blotch is.

So, as you can see, we’ve got a much bigger variety of characters this time around, and with the whole ‘in SPACE’ thing going on, we’ve got a few aliens, as well. Well, about as alien as a rather stoned looking raptor with what looks to be Baby Bop from Barney & Friends hanging from his shoulder.

Look, you don't grow up listening to this thing's annoying voice and not have a few lingering flashbacks, OK?

Look, you don’t grow up listening to this thing’s annoying voice and not have a few lingering flashbacks, OK?

I’m more interested in the one on the far end, though, past the evil monk/phantom and his doofy smiley face medallion.

Somewhere on Planet Dragon were the laziest fucking parents in the entire universe.

Somewhere on Planet Dragon were the laziest fucking parents in the entire universe.

See, Dragon goes with my thoughts perfectly. Look at Junior. He’s angry, he’s got his fists up, he’s ready for a fight. Dragon, on the other hand, couldn’t care about being here any less. He looks more frustrated, than anything, as if the power went out and the last save point was three cutscenes ago. In short, not the first thing one leaps to when they think ‘bloodthirsty fighter’. In fact, he doesn’t even actually look anything like a dragon. Dragons have wings, and horns, and all that stuff. I feel lied to, Team 17. You could have just called him Reptile. Wouldn’t have been the first thing you stole.

See that? That’s another burn. One we can categorize under as “sick”.

I think somewhere along the line, Team 17 got "kangaroo" and "dragon" mixed up.

I think somewhere along the line, Team 17 got “kangaroo” and “dragon” mixed up.

So, the controls and gameplay are basically the same as the original Body Blows. One button, waggle the stick in an effort to flail your reptilian bulk at Junior, who apparently stole most of a Power Ranger’s outfit on his way to space. Dragon’s special move, by the way, is to bounce on his ass across the screen towards his opponent. Oh, sure, he could probably breathe fire, but look at his face. Do you really think he has the time for that? He clearly doesn’t want to be here, as is. That makes two of us.

So, I actually won a round against Junior, although I lost the match. I claim my victory to Dragon’s Up-Forward attack, as shown here:

The scene that was just too hot for the original Body Blows.

The scene that was just too hot for the original Body Blows.

I’m going to assume he’s trying to bite them, although if he is, he isn’t putting the best of effort into it. It’s actually surprisingly effective, since it only takes mashing a direction to pull it off, and it does more damage than any of Dragon’s other moves. Not the most dignified of wins, but a win all the aame.

And so, having run my attention span dry, we say goodbye to Body Blows. It’s frustrating, cheap, and all around generic, and there would be so many better games for so many other systems. All this game had was a disk and a promise, really, and even a name like Team 17, which was actually a pretty big name in the Amiga games market, couldn’t save a stinker like this.

I think this particular ball of sunshine from Lemon Amiga is agreeing with me. I think.

I think this particular ball of sunshine from Lemon Amiga is agreeing with me. I think.

There would be one final game in the Body Blows series, Body Blows Ultimate. All it apparently is both games combined into one game on CD, so you can finally, finally have that dream match you wanted with Lo-Ray and Dino.

This is a good example of how both games basically play. I will admit the music’s quite nice in that early 90’s, “Wait, you’re telling us we can put MUSIC on these?” sort of way that the Sega CD popularized. For an extra challenge, see if you can tell if you can tell what anybody’s saying that’s beyond a single word in length.

I’ll do a good game next, I promise.

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