Epic Catfights

Super Variable Geo

     Ah, the all-girl fighting game. There's something we don't see enough of in the States. With the exception of maybe the Neo Geo Pocket Color's Gals Fighter, and some of those grey-market games like Metal& Lace, I can't really think of any offhand. But far away, across the seas, far beyond the terminal Middle Eastern countries, past the bleak and overcrowded metropolis of Red China, lies a magical land called Japan. A place where the traditions and psychoses of thousands of generations combine with state-of the art technology to produce a delightfully schizophrenic society. Gamers, anime fans, fans of anime gaming... they all long to see this wonderful place.

     And the video games, oh my stars, the video games! Cute girl games, fighting games, but most importantly, cute girl fighting games. Asuka 120%, Queen of Hearts, Pretty Fighter... And so on. Which brings me to the delightful little treasure I like to call Advanced Variable Geo. It tried to combine the success of the cute girl fighter with the success of the misogynistic h-game. Nine waitresses, battling on a semiofficial circuit for the honor of their respective restraunt/dojos! To the winner goes fame, fortune and a 15% tip. To the loser, goes a very cold, humiliating walk home. For you see, the loser is required by some odd contractual subclause to strip. I can only assume it's for income tax reasons. The game did pretty well, although the willing/unwilling denuding of girls didn't fly to well with conservatives. So, through some small burst of Santa Magic, the game was ported to the Super Famicom (that's SNES, for us Yankees [that's Americans, for you non-Americans]) sans stripping. And probably half the image resolution and frames of animation, sound quality, etc.

     And SUPER Variable Geo was born! Like many SUPER Nintendo games, it boasted no particularly new or useful features to make it significantly better than its creepy PC cousin. It did however have the word "SUPER" slapped across its logo in a fashion that made it look like it was added to the title as an afterthought, as many Super NES games did. After a nice little intro animation/ credits sequence, which in all honesty looks almost better than Gowcaizer's intro animation(which is a whole hardware generation ahead of the SNES), you're ready to rummmmmmble. Daintily. Because they're girls. And stuff. Although Jun is about as feminine as Natasha Radinov from GunSmith Cats. If that was too in-jokey for you, feel free to substitute 'Natasha Radinov' for 'Amanda Bearse.'

     Great batch of characters for me to make fun of, or introduce. At first I was a little despondent that I'd have to make up names for the fighters again (see also Pretty Fighter) since their names were all written in Japanese, but oddly enough, the between fight "Won by Yuka" text is in English. So, without further ado, the gorgeous gals of Variable Geo!

     Yuka: The main character, has some sort of psychic ability or something. Cute, but not the cutest; strong but not the strongest... typical street fighting main character with the addition of extra cab-forward storage space. As of the time I wrote this review she was the only one I had finished the game with; apparently she celebrates a little too hard and levels the restraunt. I think that's what happened, anyway. The cutscenes were nice-looking but the text was in glorious Japanese. Odd text, too... evenly spaced characters, all the same size. So to recap; Yuka. Main character. Big bust. Waitress. Love the ponytail. Good, we move on.

     Jun: Every pretty-girl fighting game has to toss in an incredibly masculine girl who looks like she's within seconds of an anuerysm or cannibalizing one of the other fighters. Jun is a former pro wrestler who got kicked out for unnecessary roughness, so she entered the world of full-contact waitressing. (Yes... they actually refer to the matches as such.) She kind of looks like Tenchi Muyo!'s Kiyone AFTER finally snapping.

     Manami: The... cute one. With her long pink pigtails and big cat mittens, she evokes memories of the six or so DiGi Charat episodes I've seen. She doesn't seem to work at a restraunt so much as a candy shop. I can't really think of any noteworthy skills of hers to list...

     Erina: Bunny gaijin girl Erina, who insists her friends call her Elly-Lin-Lina or something. She comes from a restraunt called "The Rival." So just guess what role she fulfills in the game roster. Still... gotta love a girl in a bunny suit with brass knuckles. No relation to Waku Waku 7's Arina. Although that gives me all sorts of ideas. You might also recognize her as Chibi Clan Nudity's post Chibi-Usa mascot.

     Kaori: The dark-haired girl with glasses dressed like a Perkin's waitress. She seems to be the stock kickboxer-type as her 'punch' buttons are all kicks. I had to remind myself several times she wasn't Ranma's Mousse. Oh and she's also the stock female fighter that stutters 'Gomenasai" after kicking your teeth out your ears. Spill the tea on me, fine. But I don't think a flying attack to the head while you yell out its name is a simple accident.

     Ayako: It's the party girl/ idol singer of your dreams! She dances! She has flashy attacks! She assumes awkward, impractical fighting stances! And she does all of that with her eyes closed. She's one of those characters that I can't control at all but the computer uses to kill you soundly every time.

     Satomi: She's got short hair and a short temper, apparently can burst into flames at random, and her restraunt looks like it's deep inside Viet Cong territory. She's also got the strangest little skirt, looks like it's made of leaves or something. I couldn't work any of the fire moves, but I mastered the move where she slides around on the ground.

     Reimi: The well-dressed and innately evil final boss. She's into gene-splicing and uses psionic powers, kind of like Yuka. Only she's better dressed and uh, innately evil. I'd probably have more insight into this if I knew Japanese and/or watched the movie. Yes, there was a movie. Or rather OAV.

     Variable Geo is pretty widely available online. I picked the Super Famicom edition mostly because it wasn't, and because hey- it's a SNES game about fighting waitresses that strip. Minus the stripping. And with the fighting part made lame and awkward by the conversion process.

Pretty Fighter

(Is it just me, or does putting this picture side by side with the group pic from SVG make Pretty Fighter look like a bootleg?)

There's a lot of ways to have fun, and a lot of different kinds of fun. There's the kind of fun that involves tricking a mop dog into an invisible fence to see it become a huge puffball. There's the kind of fun you get playing in your friend's secret clubhouse in the woods that lasts the whole ten minutes before it collapses around you and drops you twenty feet to a neck jarring impact. And then there's the kind of 'not-fun fun.' Like a canker sore. You sit there agonizing about the damn thing, until you realize if it went away you'd have to focus on something else.

Pretty Fighter is in the same school as canker sore fun. The whole time it's on your screen, you're contemplating all the ways you could demolish the cartridge. From the yips and yowls of brawling schoolgirls to the 'congratulations, now do it again' message at the end, Pretty Fighter is up to thirty minutes of irritating fun.

Your cast of diverse characters includes Schoolgirl, Party Girl, Nurse Girl, Kimono Girl, Rich Girl, Police Girl, Karate Girl and Obviously Underage Girl Endowed Beyond her Years Girl (hereafter Lolita.) If you've watched thirty microns of all anime series put together, you'll love the whole cast. Let's look analytically at this. A fighter game with all girls. All anime girls. All in easy-to-label costumes. At least half the names probably end in "-ko." The obvious answer: I must have sleep- programmed this game then traveled back in time to hand it over to a company. It's like a dozen comic series ideas I nixed come to life. In Japanese, no less.

How about this battle system? It can have a lousy premise and cardboard characters if it plays well, right? You'll have to wait for my review of Power Rangers Fighting Edition for the verdict on that. This game boasts the great gameplay of Street Fighter I combined with wacky not-quite-but-almost Ranma-ish attacks. Kind of like Hard Battle, except somehow worse and none of the girls was renamed to be more 'acceptable.' (Casino King, Gambler King, Whatever!) Police Girl, for example, takes her naughty opponent over her knee and spanks them. Really. Nurse Girl and Party Girl can both fly through the air at lightspeed and hit you with their butts. Nurse Girl also can empty a syringe at you, which inexplicably restores her health bar. More puzzling is Lolita's Banana Technique, in which she tries desperately to peel a banana. This also restores her health despite the fruit never reaching her mouth. It's still more dignified than her victory pose, in which she bends over backwards and makes an excited yelp. Everyone else does a generic thumbs-up or some similar maneuver.

The saving grace of this game was probably that it never came out in America. If it did, we'd have hormonal fanboys to contend with. Mercifully, this potential fanbase is at least reduced to 'hormonal fanboys with computers.'

Great, the game is getting slow and they show us baseball.

(as a side note, the nurse, Kris, is voiced by none other than Mika Kanai, the voice of Arche in Tales of Phantasia. There was also a Playstation sequel Pretty Fighter X, but I'm guessing it was just more of the same.)