This is a bit of a strange one this, especially because I've no idea whether it's based on fact or fiction. Go to the Endurance option where you're fighting a series of bouts in various locations around the USA and the intro blurb tells you "In 1988 Master Axe led his three students on an epic 3,300 mile cycle/
Fact or fiction?
Whether this actually happened or not I've no idea. Whether this Master Axe chap exists or not, I've no idea. I do, however, know that he's lent his name to a rather dodgy beat-'em-up.
The one player Endurance option is probably the game's best option, even though there's not a bicycle in sight, because the Hi-impact Tournament option is just bizarre. Select your character (there are some eight to choose from) and fight a bout. Win the first bout and erm, you win the tournament. Game Over.
Lose the bout however and you have the chance to become the character that beat you and fight in the semi-finals anyway. Lose here and you get to fight in the final as the character that defeated you in the semi's. It don't make much sense to me.
Obviously this is a game that benefits from the two-player mode. In fact that's the only thing going for it.
Still, it makes more sense than the Spiritual Warrior option. In this mode it's you versus a shadow image of whatever character you're supposed to be. Apparently you're fighting your inner self (the hardest thing to fight against if the game's to be believed), start to win the bout and your opponent becomes solid. Win the bout and that's the end of that.
Each bout is the standard best out of three affair, with or without a timer if you like. Reach the end of the time allocated for the bout and if it hasn't been resolved in a knockout then the person with the most energy left wins. The training mode's pretty ropey too - a quick bout and it's all over.
Obviously this is a game that benefits from the two player mode. In fact that's the only thing going for it. In one player mode you'll find that as soon as you've learnt a decent move or two you simply have to keep repeating them to defeat whoever you're up against. This doesn't work quite so well in two player mode because your mate's bound to learn a move that counters yours. It still won't be much fun because it's all so well, flat really.
The hidden locations attempt to make the gameplay a little less flat. At the start of the Endurance game you should normally be fighting some FBI chap outside the Whitehouse (he's armed with some kind of stun gun which takes half your energy with every hit so it's a little weighted in his favour) and for some random reason you have to fight someone else on top of a New York building beforehand. Why this should happen on some occasions and not others is beyond me.
There are some hidden features to be discovered including the rather hilarious 'Turbo Mode'. Manage to activate this and the fighters fly around the screen at an impressive rate. It's completely unplayable but it's a great laff and it does mean you get the bouts finished in just a few seconds. Even so, the hidden extras don't manage to lift the playing experience beyond slightly tedious.
The gameplay's straight down the line with little to grab your interest. The graphics are very nice, there's loads of animation and some rather nice effects, but they can't cover the ropey gameplay. It's stilted as well as flat. It must be said though that at least the programmers hae given each of the game's characters a different fighting style, so you can at least vary the action by choosing someone else to fight as.
The music's alright, but the sound effects are horrid - I've heard better sounds sampled in someone's dustbin. It's a shame that the programmers spent so much effort getting the game to look good, that they forgot it should be good to play too. This isn't, so don't buy it.