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Have You Played... The Outfoxies?

A fighting game packed with twists

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

Sometimes you like a game more because of how you discovered it: I had never heard of The Outfoxies till I stumbled across an arcade cabinet of it in the attic above a shop in Tokyo. The other games in the room were old, kitsch, sometimes terrible, but The Outfoxies played like it could have been a modern indie game. It should be a modern indie game.

The Outfoxies is a one or two-player sidescrolling beat-'em-up that follows a Street Fighter-style tournament structure, but with levels that take place over multiple floors and change over the course of a fight.

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For example, when you fight against Betty Doe, you'll find her at the "seaside aquarium." The lobby has a Poseidon statue, there's a whale hanging from the ceiling three storeys above, and Doe has set an explosive to go off partway through the fight. When the fuse winds down, the explosion causes the whale to collapse upon Poseidon's trident. Then water starts rising up from the bottom of the screen. The glass of the aquarium's displays have been smashed, meaning there's sharks on the water. The whale floats on the surface of the water, rising back upwards storey by storey as you fight on its back.

Every other level has its own gimmick. You'll fight B. White through the carriages of a moving train, and John Smith in a skyscraper with its own explosive which triggers a floor to collapse and a helicopter to smash down through the level.

The levels are packed with small details, too. You can pick up and throw any item at your opponent, from barrels to plates of soup, for example. And the characters are outlandish and silly: B. White is a enormous, Jaws-from-Bond-inspired character who runs while windmilling his metal arms, and another character, called Dweeb, is a monkey in a top hat. You can play as any of them and will fight everyone on your journey towards the end of the game.

The result is a fighting game that's constantly surprising you, in which a monkey standing on top of a whale can defeat his enemy by throwing a depleted machinegun into his opponent's face.

Is it a PC game? Thanks to MAME, it's the only way you're likely to play it today.

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