Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Flash Hiders

Right Stuff
Super CD-ROM

Flash Hiders employs sprites that are relatively small by 16-bit-fighter standards, but its zany, charismatic characters make huge impressions by executing attacks that hit extremely hard. Actually, their punches and kicks of the conventional varieties come off as little more than feeble pokes, but their flashy screen-shaking special moves are what you'll mainly rely on, and some of these techniques constitute devastating multi-hit combos in and of themselves.

The smooth controls make these awesome maneuvers incredibly easy to pull off, and if you can live with pangs of conscience, you'll frequently be able to follow up on fighter-flooring strings of blows with additional roundhouses and haymakers as your unfortunate opponents rise from the turf. Get your foes cornered and they're often as good as done for. Thankfully, you'll likely find pulling off the hard-hitting moves and administering successions of brutal thrashings enjoyable enough that single-player action will remain entertaining for a good long while.

The folks at Right Stuff had a bit of "mad scientist" in their blood, so of course they couldn't leave well enough alone when they were done crafting a solid play system for FH. Fighters can earn experience points for boosting attributes and cash for purchasing items by achieving victory in battle. Veterans of the genre will likely find these elements hardly worth taking notice of, as the game should be quite easy for them on all of its many selectable difficulty levels, but novices will probably appreciate the stat boosts.

While Flash Hiders plays wonderfully, it's hardly an aesthetic delight. Its soundtrack features satisfactory rock numbers that tend to fade into insignificance as one concentrates on the action (but don't truly falter except for the rare occasions where they inadvisedly incorporate odd vocal elements). The characters sometimes look somewhat awkward as they leap, dash, and pummel, while the backdrops range from bright, colorful spectacles to veritable voids.

When the game actually bothers to present full-fledged cinemas, it delivers some commendable character art and effective comedy sketches...

...but all too often it instead offers text-based event screens and terribly uninteresting "talking heads" sequences.

But unimpressive tale-telling scenes and hit-or-miss aesthetics don't nullify the title's excellent gameplay. Indeed, when we boil matters down to aspects of fisticuffs, Flash Hiders comes through as well as just about any other PCE fighter.

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