Have You Played… Salty Bet?

No idea who these people are

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.

If we imagine the internet as a physical realm, perhaps a futuristic city, with giant Amazon shops and Wikipedia libraries, then Salty Bet is one of the trashiest dive bars. It’s a noisy den in the Squalid Quarter, full of loutish cackling and people throwing money at the bar staff. In the centre of the bar, an illicit cage fight is about to start, between an anime princess and a weird creature spawned from MS Paint. I feel dirty just walking into this place, so why do I keep coming back?

Well, playing with fake money is always fun. For anyone confused, Salty Bet is a website where you can bet on fights between weird AI bots, battling in M.U.G.E.N, an old 2D fighting game engine. The contenders are stripped from generations of fighting games, or sometimes simply inspired by them. You can find Jin from Tekken, or Marvel’s Dr Strange, or any of the Mortal Kombatants. Some of the brawlers are horrible monstrosities – huge scorpions or blobs. Others are Sailor Moon characters or Ninja Turtles. These copyright-skirting bots are often overpowered maniacs with unlikely moves and weapons. Lasers, swords, robots, missiles. Everything is allowed, so long as it doesn’t “break” the fight. And a tier system keeps everything (mostly) in check. The perfect Salty Bet fight is quick and close, and upsets are wonderful.

I don’t recognise the majority of the characters. Fans of both anime and fighting games have created their own sub-culture here, and that’s part of the appeal as a stranger. You have no idea who to bet on. The tiny animal with a smile is just as viable as the demon breathing fire. But don’t rely on the Twitch-based chat for help. This is a raucous place, sometimes offensive. A kind of Jabba’s Palace for the year 2017. But if you can ignore the worst of it (or if you’re happy to turn chat off entirely), you might still enjoy one of the grubbiest, weirdest bloodsports available on the horrible streets of this Internet city.

18 Comments

  1. Seafoam says:

    Doing something like this with real money would be interesting, obviously it wouldnt work because its easy to cheat and it’s all just computers doing math anyhow.
    But maybe one day as AI evolves it could be reality. Maybe SkyNet will actually be Spartacus.

    • LTK says:

      If that happens I guarantee people will make AIs that analyse these fights and compute exactly how best to turn a profit. AIs versus AIs studying AIs versus AIs.

  2. CaptainHairy says:

    Any fighting game or fighting-game-adjacent experience can be improved by the inclusion of a character called “Rugal’s Panther Zoo” that’s just dozens of big cats leaping all over the screen, murdering everything not shaped like a panther instantaneously.

    Also: always bet on sword.

  3. dennis20014 says:

    Haha omg I love Salty’s Dream Casino. It used to be very popular for years (and still may be at certain times of the day). Some of the characters are super borked in MUGEN though haha

  4. MrFox88 says:

    It somehow reminds me of the multiplayer global spectator mode in the last Smash for the 3DS, where you can bet fake money on fights and which can get quite a time spender.

  5. GernauMorat says:

    Ah Salty Bet. The cries of ALWAYS BET ON WAIFU immediately followed by NEVER BET ON WAIFU. A strange, surreal place.

  6. Dominic Tarason says:

    The best Salty Bet matches are Potato Tier. The worst tier, and ergo the best. Characters that barely function. That waddle awkwardly across the screen and maybe get in a few underpowered swings before getting annihilated. In a normal competition, they’re fodder.

    In a Potato Tier tournament, they’re comedy gold.

    • snappycow says:

      Then there’s always that rare moment when 2 Potato Tier fighters actually do what they’re supposed to and we get a REAL FIGHT that’s actually thrilling to watch. Good times.

  7. cpt_freakout says:

    Videogames might not be art, but Salty Bet sure is.

  8. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    Ahaaaaaaa Salty Bet!

    Salty Bet has kept me company on some sleepless nights. Although for how long is largely dependent on the people who frequent the chat.

    It is a bit of a surreal experience, to be sure.

  9. Doug Exeter says:

    I am really bad at this. I guess knowing any of the characters might help. Surprisingly fun though!

  10. April March says:

    Ah, Salty Bet. Went there because of this article. Saw combatants that included a pixelated sheriff from (I assume) an Atari game, Omanyte from Twich Plays Pokémon, and what I assume is Kirby after having taken the power of an anime girl. What a place.

  11. satan says:

    Some of the best free entertainment on the internet.

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