For some reason, to me bad fighting games always seem to come off worse than other "bad" games. It doesn't take much to make a fighting game playable. You've got two characters, all you have to do is make them beat each other to death. How can you mess that up?
Apparently a lot of people can, as witnessed by the wave of truly awful cash-in fighting games in the early 1990s. Enter Fighting Masters. We have a good premise, that of bizarre alien creatures that all have to kill each other. We have semi decent character design, including horse headed boxers, flying griffon-looking things, weird elephant headed hindu-god looking behemoths, etc. Too bad the actual game is quite possibly the worst fighting game ever created.
First off you have to press a button to jump - that knocks it down a notch right there. Second although there is a large assortment of good looking characters, each one has truly craptacular animation - most characters have a two step walk cycle. Pathetic. Third each character has a measly two attacks, a standing punch and a crouching punch. There is a wide assortment of grapple type attacks, but these seem to occur arbitrarily without much input from the player. On top of all this there seems to be no way to block anything. Utterly, truly, embarrassingly pathetic.
Well, how does the game play? Just like any other fighting game - the first three opponents are pretty much cake and can be beaten with your eyes closed, around the fourth guy or so the computer decides to start fighting back. In other games this is the point where you actually have to start using skill and strategy. In this game it's where you turn it off.
Good stuff: Lots of good ideas. Good premise, lots of characters, pretty detailed and large sprites.
Bad stuff: None of the good ideas are done correctly. Pathetic animation, cheeseball A. I., lack of any real specials, or any decent offensive moves. Inability to block seals the coffin lid on this travesty.