Sunday, January 4, 2015

NES Essential Imports: Joy Mecha Fight

Console: Famicom
Genre(s): Fighter
Players: 1 or 2
Developer: Nintendo R&D1
Released: 1993

During the early 90's, console fighters were still a relatively new concept. Sure, there were fighting games released for the NES/Famicom console, but compared to the arcade fighters that were out during the same time, the games were lacking in many areas. Joy Mecha Fight is a title that helped bridge the gap in many of these areas, however, due to its late release and the incredibly popular Street Fighter 2 for the Super Famicom, the game was never released outside of Japan and ultimately limited its popularity.

This beautiful fighter was released in 1993, during the great migration period of gamers to the newer Super Famicom system. It's known for being a title that pushed the limits of the Famicom system, both graphically and audibly. The game's release is credited to Nintendo R&D1, but the title was actually developed by Koichi Hayashida and Koichiro Eto during a game seminar in 1992, who both were hired by Nintendo before the title was released.


Gameplay:

The story begins in a laboratory where renowned robot makers, Dr. Little Ermin and Dr. Ivan Warner, were busy creating... robots. One day Dr. Ermin returned to the lab only to find that it had been destroyed and 7 of their robots had disappeared along with Ivan. Soon after, Ivan appeared on TV stating that he controlled the strongest robot army in the world and that resistance was futile. Ermin felt betrayed. He then began work to repair the lab that he and Ivan once used to create these seemingly harmless fighting robots of death and destruction. Ermin decided to use Sukapon as his chosen fighter who was a non-violent, friendly robot. After a quick reprogramming, Sukapon is transformed into a war machine that will save the planet from the evil plot being carried out by Ivan and his 7 robot companions.



There are a total of four gameplay modes for this game: 1p story mode, 1p Vs Com, 1p Vs. 2p, and a Com Vs. Com mode. The story mode consists of 4 individual levels that contain 8 opponents in each (except for the first, which only has 7 opponents). Both you and your opponent start every match with 2 hearts (total of 3 lives) and a full lifebar. When your lifebar is worn down to nothing, you lose a heart, and the match is halted for a few seconds so the fallen robot can recollect himself. If you are out of hearts when this happens, you lose the match. For the first level, you start with only one robot, Sukapon, and are faced with the task of defeating each of the 7 stolen robots: Eye, Giant, Honou, Neo, Sasuke, Senju, and Tiger. Each fighter has their own unique attributes, attack styles, and special attacks. As you defeat these robots, they will be reprogrammed and then added to your roster of available fighters to choose from. After you wade through the 7 robots, you will be matched up against a boss robot, which (of course) is an ostrich. Defeat your avianoid foe and you will advance to the 2nd stage and be greeted with some kinds words from Dr. Ivan. This process will continue through the remaining 3 stages, however, the enemies you face now will not be added to your available roster. As you would guess, the robots get progressively more difficult as you advance. Eventually you will face off against the boss on the Moon stage.

After you finish the first stage in “Normal” mode, you will unlock the “Hard” mode. When you work your way through the story mode using the hard settings, you will unlock the “Special” mode and all the non-boss robots. If you manage to beat all the robots in the special mode, you will unlock all the robots, including the bosses. Below I outlined some of the basic information about the 8 initial playable robots.


Sukapon: The robot chosen and reprogrammed by Ermin to take on the 7 stolen robots. He was originally a friendly robot who likes to make people laugh.





Flame: His extremities and body look as though they are on fire. His special moves consist of a variety of flame attacks including a fire ball attack in which he hurls himself towards the opponent as a spinning ball of fire. He is touted as having good distance attacks.





Tiger: Resembles a classic karate-master type character that has been transformed into a limbless robot. His moves basically consist of different types of punches and kicks. One of his moves is a flying knee attack that can strike your opponent from across the screen.



Neo: A green robot with two red orbs hovering above him. He is touted as having a strong uppercut. A multi-kick attack allows you to rapidly kick your opponent. Neo also has a ranged attack that will shoot a slow moving, red orb toward your opponent.




Senju: This battle robot is equipped with clamp like hands and two drills located above his head. Senju comes equipped with a couple drill like attacks, including Flying Drill and Drill Attack. He has good defense attributes.




Sasuku: A purple ninja robot equipped with claws on each of his hands. His moves consist mainly of punches and kicks, but does have some ranged attacks in which he can extend his clawed hand halfway across the screen to strike your opponent. Ermin explains that his ninja tactics and aerial toss are amazing.



Eye: An insect looking fighter with one giant eye and two claw like hands. He attributed with having great speed. He has a spinning aerial attack that needs to be performed from directly over the head of your enemy and a lunging kick attack in which he can strike his enemy from the opposite end of the arena.



Giant: As the name would suggest, he is a very large robot. He is extremely powerful, but also extremely slow. Giant has a boulder like head and what seems to be two wrecking balls for hands. He has a distance attack, Quick Wave, that will send a shock wave across the arena causing damage to your opponent. He also has a pretty powerful body slam attack if you find yourself in close quarters with your enemy.

Graphics:

The graphics are great in this game. Some of the best that you will find on the NES. All the robots are very well designed and animated. Each of the characters have their own unique attacks and specials, which also has their own animation to go with it. The variety of arenas are all well designed and some even have their own animation associated with them.



One thing you will notice immediately is that the robots do not have limbs connecting their extremities to their body. This was an intentional move by the developers based on the graphical capabilities of the Famicom. By eliminating the limbs, they also eliminated the total number of sprites needed per character, which allowed for much smoother animation.

Music/Sound:

The music is solid. You battle to a variety of 8bit techno like jams and are greeted to equally upbeat menu/character select menus. As you would expect from a great game, all the attacks have a sound associated with them as well jumping. Overall, the music and sound really is a great part of this game and very well done.

Controls:

Controls are quick and precise. Even though the Famicom controller only had a D-Pad and 2 buttons for inputs, this game really did a great job with creating individual button combos for most of the characters. In fact, you are even able to enter into a “Demo” mode that will teach you a handful of moves for your chosen robot.

D-Pad Left/Right: Move robot left or right
D-Pad Up: Jump
D-Pad Down: Crouch

A Button: Punch
B Button: Kick

About the Developer:

Since the game was completed before the developers were working for Nintendo, I thought I would gather some information on the creators themselves.

Koichi Hayashida is still working for Nintendo to this day. He has had a significant role in the majority of the 3D Mario titles dating back to Super Mario Sunshine for the GameCube. His most recent project is Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker for the Wii U, where he took on his first role as Producer.

Koichiro Eto has not been credited with another game from Nintendo since the release of Joy Mecha Fight. It has actually been very challenging to track down any information on his recent work. Hopefully I can update this entry with some more information soon.

Final Impressions:

Joy Mecha Fight is an extremely fun 2D fighter. Due to the games simplistic controls, it's very easy to pick up and play even if you are not a fighter aficionado, however, the difficulty increases significantly as you progress through the story. Unlike a lot of games in this genre, the special move combos are actually manageable and easily executed, making the fights fun and challenging. You will quickly realize that you will need a variety of attack and defense strategies to beat this game. Button mashing the same move over and over will only get you so far.

Overall, this is an amazing fighter. And when you realize that you are playing this game on the Famicom, it makes it even better. I recommend this game to ANYONE, whether you are a fan of the genre or not. It really is a great game.


Current prices on Ebay range from $20 - $40, but I have seen them sell complete for as high as $80.

Tips:

The NPC robots will change their attack strategies each time they are knocked down so your attack strategy will most likely also need to change!

Side Note:

This game is also referred to as Joy Mech Fight.




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