Monday, September 20, 2010

Rabbit - 2D Anime Fighter on Saturn

Here's another quality 2D fighter on Sega Saturn, and definitely one of the weirder ones.  It's called Rabbit, and it was the work a Japanese software house called Aorn.  They created Rabbit for the arcades, where it languished in obscurity, and was later ported to the Saturn.  Electronic Arts published the title in Japan, as they were trying to break into the Land of the Rising Sun (without success, of course).

What sort of fighting game is Rabbit?  Well, it's just kinda weird.  Eight colorful characters square off against one another, and they range from the usual anime suspects to the bizzare.  There's a crazy clown character, who apparently is a singer in a rock band or something.  There are a couple crazy, big guys.  There's a blue-haired girl with a parasol.  Everything is wrapped in a cartoonish, mainland Asian style, complete with the usual projectiles and combos.

The game's "hook" is that each fighter is accompanied by an animal spirit who floats on their shoulder, cheering them on, and contributing an extra special attack or two.  Defeated characters lose their animal to the winner, and as the game progresses, you can switch between your animal helpers during the fights.  It's an interesting idea, that's for sure.

The Saturn conversion of Rabbit is very solid, although clearly a step below the arcade original.  Colors are washed out, slightly dull, animation frames have been sacrificed, and the fighters appear strangely pixelated. I'm really not sure why that is.  Graphics zoom in and out in the classic Neo-Geo style, which was very common with '90s brawlers, and goodness knows the Saturn has mastered many SNK fighters.  Heck, just look at Capcom's 4-Meg masterpieces to see how amazing 2D Saturn games can look.

In any case, I'll have to spend more time playing this game.  I think it's very good, very solid, and Saturn fans should be thrilled to have another great, "lost" 2D brawler in their collection.  So that said...diplomacy aside...the best non-Capcom, non-SNK fighting games for the console remain Sonic Council, Asuka 120%, and Astra Superstars.  Those are the must-haves.  Add those to your library first.

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