N64 Fighting: Bio F.R.E.A.K.S.

It’s the future and the United States have split into private territories, chaos and stuff is going on. Corporations now battle with bio-engineered… aaaand I’m not even going to finish that sentence. Midway decided to release this fighter straight to the Nintendo 64 / PlayStation / PC in 1998 so it wouldn’t land in the arcades at the same time as their flagship product, Mortal Kombat 4. This action may have doomed the game, because by the time it was released the home ports for MK4 were nearly done anyway. At the time people were hungry for blood and gore, and I can almost guarantee at least a few folks wouldn’t mind dropping their quarters into this limb-ripping arterial gusher while waiting two hours to get a turn at the new Mortal Kombat. Buy hey, what the fuck do I know?

Don’t answer that.

To be fair, it’s kind of hard to go wrong with a giant cybernetic bull.

Let’s start out on a positive note: Bio F.R.E.A.K.S. has something going for it in the style department. The story is silly and cliché beyond belief, while the characters are so fucking (unintentionally, I think) comical that it’s hard not to soak up the entire atmosphere with glee. I even had a few laugh out loud moments as I first read the awkward biographical text for each of the 8 playable characters, as well as while viewing their cringe-worthy before and after fight animations. Throw in over the top level designs with killer hazards, lava (a classic), green mutant shit, and flaming lady liberty heads… so far so very deliciously good.

And then you get to the gameplay.

Probably the most half-assed Sparta kick you’ll ever see.

To their credit, the developers tried something a little different. You have a thrust that would launch you into the air, you can dodge (*cough* rotate) left and right into 3D space, there’s a uh, gun attack of some sort, and each of four main attack buttons control a different limb. When you got an arm ripped off or whatever by a “mutilation” attack, you no longer have access to said limb. It all sounds really great on paper, but, well, this isn’t paper.

While the action is not particularly stiff or slow, it suffers from a fair amount of that late 90’s 3D fighter disease where every character feels big and weighty. Button mashing works all too well because the fighting engine doesn’t lend itself to tactical play – by the time you pull off combos and whatnot, your opponent is likely going to have already beat you half to death just by flailing about. That wouldn’t be the case with two skilled players, but frankly this isn’t the kind of game you bother getting good at. Furthermore, the sound and attack animations do absolutely nothing to add any satisfaction to actually slapping your opponent around — though I like the crowd’s various responses to the action. When you stack it all up, the game just plays very meh. The only thing I feel they nailed that maybe one other series got right (Bushido Blade I and II) are the one hit kill moves. They’re hard to pull off because they’re super slow and obvious, but they can end a match right then and there. The implementation works for me.

CHOOSE FROM ONE OF THESE EIGHT POWERFUL FIGHTERS… and hey if you’re going back to the kitchen, bring me another beer and one of them crunchy things with the stuff on it.

I won’t comment on the graphics or music because they’re both sort of just hanging out, not too good or too terrible. Your standard late 90’s Mortal Kombat ripoff stuff, the interface looks nice and has some skulls and shit. All the standard game modes are present – practice, survival, arcade and versus. I feel that as long as you’re playing versus mode against another human being, this game has more going for it than not. Definitely not a choice cut from the fighting genre, but this system has slim pickins’. Still, there’s some special about these crappy N64 fighters. If you’re going to get belligerently drunk and yell, spit and throw stuff around the room like an asshole, this could be your jam.

By Gamesman Anus

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