Monday, July 2, 2012

That One Time When the Kombat Wasn’t Mortal

I’m sure Mortal Kombat was the bane of schoolteachers nationwide back in the day, not only because it preoccupied little boys with thoughts of yanking classmates’ heads off their bodies but also for the terrible effect it had on spelling. At least a few kids had to have spelled combat with a “K,” right? Given how big a deal Street Fighter still is today, it’s weird to think back on the 90s and remember how common it was to see the word Kombat everywhere. But there was one instance of Kombat-with-a-“K” didn’t have anything to do with head-ripping and blood-shedding.

So what gives? Surely, this has to be a shameless rip-off of Mortal Kombat, no?

Actually, no. It’s more of a Street Fighter clone, if all 90s fighting games exist in a “Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter?” binary. (They do.)

Released in 1994 for the Neo Geo system, Aggressors got a “K” in its title solely because it was developed by the company ADK and the translators bent over backwards to name this game so that it had the same initials as the company… and Aggressors of Dark Kombat was apparently the best they could do. Personally, I think Apes Doing Kung-Fu would have been better and only marginally less appropriate for this sunny, goofy game, but either way it’s a tragedy that the English-speaking world didn’t experience the original, Japanese title: Tsuukai GANGAN Koushinkyoku, which translates to “Thrilling Intense March” and which I’d place between Aggressors of Dark Kombat and Apes Doing Kung-Fu in terms of suckiness.

And that’s the story of how that one other random game spelled Kombat with a “K.” It’s basically Aggressors of Dark Kombat claim to fame, but it’s always couched in terms of “Does it have anything to do with Mortal Kombat? No? Oh, weird,” before it’s never mentioned again.

There is more, however.

Aggressors isn’t the title that ADK is known for. That honor goes to World Heroes, yet another game in the genre that the Neo Geo specialized in: folks across the globe smacking the hell out of each other in exotic locales. And because Heroes was popular enough to warrant a handful of sequels, ADK tried to piggyback off its popularity by inserting one of its characters into Aggressorsthe redheaded ninja Fuuma, even if a feudal-era dude doesn’t make sense in the Aggressors’ contemporary setting and even if Heroes had a far more memorable character to lend. Fuuma is the fighter you see in the video above, kicking ass in one time setting rather than kicking ass in all of them as he’s used to in his home series.

Of all the kombatants introduced in Aggressors, however, only one ever played a sizable role in a game again: its one female fighter, Kisarah Westfield. She’s… terrible. In a world where Chun-Li proclaims herself to be the strongest woman in the world and Sonya Blade gets to represent the American military in a fighting tournament, Kisarah might as well step forth with her own battle cry: “Math is hard!” She’s only in the game because she’s been trying to catch the eye of one of her male opponents. She yips. She squeals. She wears a short skirt. And this is what you get when you beat her:

Yeah, this woman is pretty terrible. And that’s coming from the guy who always chose to play the girl back in the day when there only ever was just the one female character. But I can’t cut a break for a female character whose super move involves kissing a dude and enflaming her opponent with jealousy. No, really. Watch:

And that’s when Kisarah isn’t not kneeing opponents in the crotch — male and female! — and reducing them to quivering lumps of flesh.

So of course when SNK threw a bunch of their characters in a big mix for Neo Geo Battle Coliseum, Kisarah got to be the one and only representative of Aggressors of Dark Kombat. But hey — at least this means that this lesser Kombat’s fame didn’t end with that one single game. Instead, in ended with Neo Geo Battle Coliseum.

And now that’s everything I have to say about Aggressors of Dark Kombat.

(By the way, if you really want, you can think of this as a spiritual sequel to my post explaining the missing “W” in that other Neo Geo fighter, Samurai Shodown.)

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