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Have You Played... Pit-Fighter?

A real crowd-pleaser

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

Has anyone made a fighting game more realistic than Pit-Fighter? Released in arcades in 1990 and to home computers a year later, it used actual people as the models for its characters, digitising them through some sort of sorcery and allowing them to punch and kick one another without causing actual bodily harm.

The realism wasn't the best thing about Pit-Fighter though. That would be the spiteful people in the crowds who would clobber you or shove you back into the fight if you go too close.

Pit-Fighter isn't actually the most realistic fighting game I've ever played, but I do have vivid memories of seeing it for the first time in the arcade at Megabowl just outside Bury. It wasn't gory but something about seeing digitised actors hitting one another made it seem just a bit illicit anyhow.

Obviously nobody was getting hurt while me and my friends played, but real people had absolutely pretended to get hurt and to hurt one another in order that the game could exist. We watched enough kung fu movies and wrestling to know that the likes of Jackie Chan and Bret Hart really did get hurt in order to entertain us, but being in control of these little sweaty avatars, fighting in an underground club, was different.

And maybe that all goes back to the crowds. In Street Fighter, people cheered on the fighters in the background of some scenes. Here, the people who formed the sides of the ring were baying for blood, and would hand weapons to the fighters. It felt just that little bit nastier and more brutal.

The truth is, that's what I remember best about it. How it played, whether it was well-designed, how many fighting styles or arenas it had? I have no idea. The fighting was forgettable, but the grim spectacle of it all was not.

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Adam Smith


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