Game: "Waku Waku 7"
System: Neo Geo
Published by: Other
Review: When I finally acquired a Neo Geo system, Waku Waku 7 was one of the first games on my list to play on it. It's a fighting game by Sunsoft that never got enough attention if you ask me. And just why is this semi-obscure game deserving of a chance to shine in the spotlight? Allow me to explain.
Fire off, Waku Waku 7 isn't the seventh game in a series; the number refers to the amount of primary playable characters in the game. There are a lot of people out there who avoid fighting games like the plague because there's simply a large learning curve to them. And hey, let's be honest... it's never a lot of fun to be the new guy playing a fighting game against somebody who's been playing it for an eternity. You can only laugh but so many times as your character gets stomped into the ground before that laughter turns to frustration and rage. RAAAAGE! Well, Waku Waku 7 pretty much eliminates all of that. Your special moves don't require a crazy combination of button presses and joystick jerks, it's just a matter of building up enough energy. Furthermore, if your opponent is about to unleash a special move on you, there's a warning alarm so you can try to counteract it while he's charging up.
Another thing I love about this game is that the characters are awesome. Sure, it doesn't have the 30+ characters that many modern fighting games do, but it does have seven solid characters plus two amazing bonus characters that you can use in versus mode. You don't even have to unlock anything to play them. So why are the characters so much fun to play? It's because they're all lampooning some preexisting fighting game characters (including Street Fighter, Darkstalkers, Samurai Shodown and others).
For example, the character "Bonus-Kun" is clearly poking fun at Ryu from the Street Fighter series. Bonus-Kun is a punching bag with no arms or legs, but he's got a headband and can pull off a mean "Kou Shuu Tan", his own version of the Ryu's "Hadouken" move.
Then there's Fernandez. Ohhhhhh Fernandez. This is without a doubt my favorite character in the game. Imagine a giant black water balloon three times the size of your average fighting game character, tack on some tiny bat wings and a huge grinning face and you've got Fernandez in a nutshell. He also kinda reminds me of one of those giant Chain Chomps from Mario Kart. Regardless of what you think Fernandez looks like, he's a mocktacular tribute to all of the oversized characters in fighting games, and let me tell ya... you haven't lived until you've played a two-player Fernandez vs. Fernandez game. The camera actually has to back out frequently just to fit the two of them on the screen. His special moves are pretty damned amusing too, but I don't want to spoil 'em for those of you who haven't given it a shot yet.
With a title like "Waku Waku 7" (the "Waku Waku" part apparently being a Japanese onomatopoeia for sounds of excitement), I guess it's not surprising that the game isn't more well known, but know that it is available. In addition to being on some Neo Geo MVS arcade cabinets, the game was also released on the Sega Saturn and on a "Sunsoft Collection" disc for the Playstation 2. Sure the game could use some more characters, no doubt about it, but it's still a blast. Great graphics, hilarious characters and extremely fun gameplay make Waku Waku 7 a title definitely worth hunting down. I mean, how often do you get to fight as a pissed off punching bag or a jolly giant blob with a big smile? It's not easy standing out from the rest of the fighting games out there, but Waku Waku 7 definitely found a way.
If you're still not sold on Waku Waku 7, then perhaps this victory screen will do the trick:
YES, YES, YES! BALLS, BALLS, BALLS!
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)
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