Saturday, 10 September 2016

THE AVENGERS IN GALACTIC STORM


Before Capcom got hold of the Marvel license and pitted them against their own characters, The Avengers had their own fighting game in 1995. Galactic Storm by Data East ushered in a lot of firsts in an over-crowded genre yet for all it's merits it's virtually unknown.

Arcade veterans Data East had a few fighting games under their belt. Perhaps their best known was Fighter's History, notorious for being a complete rip-off of Capcom's Street Fighter. It's fitting that after stealing from Capcom almost wholesale, the reverse would happen here only a few short years later. Capcom's Vs. series are known for their use of supporting characters known as 'helpers' or 'strikers'. During battle, a player can call upon a chosen striker who will swoop in and briefly wail on your opponent. A year before the excellent X-Men vs Street Fighter kick started the series, Galactic Storm was released in Japan bringing with it the very same mechanic that would be synonymous with it's Marvel-themed rival. It can't be a coincidence.

Nevertheless, what can't be argued is the fact that Capcom did it much better. For starters, strikers can also be used as fighters and vice versa. In Galactic Storm, some of Marvel's most popular characters are inexplicably left in the background, appearing on screen only when a player chooses to make use of his special move. Team Avengers has the legends that are Thor, Iron Man and Vision sadly relegated to striker-only status (along with Giant Man - it's the first I've heard of him too). Even the big bad of 2014's biggest movie of the year - Guardian of the Galaxy's Ronan the Accuser - is limited to a striker for the other side.

Anyway, here's the full rundown of fighters:

Captain America -  You all know Captain America. He's the lead in arguably the
best of Marvel's Cinematic Universe. His fighting style here is quite generic
with only his shield to provide him with special moves. He can bounce back
projectiles while blocking as well as throw his shield.
The Black Knight - Orginally created by Stan Lee in 1955, The Black Knight
(aka Sir Percy of Scandia) has evolved into many different characters over the
years. In Galaxy Storm, he is the third iteration, a decendant of Sir Percy named
Dane Whitman. He weilds a sword made of light known as the Neural Sword
which looks and acts much like a lightsabre. Considering his legacy and
interesting storylines it's surprising he's not so well known outside of comic
fans. He even became the leader of the Avengers in Captain America's absence
for a while. He's an agile fighter with most of his attacks focussed on sword play.
Crystal - Crystal first appeared in 1965 in the Fantastic Four comics. She's
another Stan Lee original although Jack Kirby - Marvel's other golden boy - had
a hand in her design. In her recent incarnation, she is part of the gang known as
Inhumans, a group of unsuspecting heroes who were genetically altered by the
Kree. In fact, she was the first to be labelled as such. She can control the four
elements; Earth, Air, Water and Fire. As you'd expect her attacks do focus around
this ability though you'll probably end up using the overpowered Flame projectile
the most.
Thunderstrike - Basically he's a poor man's Thor, which is fitting because that's
where he got is start in 1988. He is to Thor what Robin is to Batman, except he
got delusions of grandeur with a brief self-titled comic series. Thunderstrike
began as everyman Kevin Masterson, who came upon a magical hammer named
Mace. When wielded, he would turn into the muscle-god Thunderstrike in the
same way as He-Man with his sword or Bananaman with his Banana. Kevin
doesn't feature in the game so what we're left with is someone who looks and
fights in exactly the same way as you'd expect Thor to, except not as good. Using
Thor as a striker in conjunction with Thunderstrike offers no added benefits
despite an influx of electricity FX.
Korath-Thak - A Kree cyber-geneticist by trade who created Shatterax as well
as the Pursuer who first appeared in 1977. This was a retro-fitted origin as
Operation: Galactic Storm would be Korath's first appearance. He weilds two
batons and makes good use of hoverboots to attack and fly around the screen.
Doctor Minerva - This Kree villain is yet another geneticist - apparently a
common occupation in the Kree civilization. She has appeared several times
in the comics, partnering up with Captain Atlas and entering the Spider-Verse as
well as occasionally playing antagonist to Miss Marvel. Here she is the token
female on the Kree side. She's quite acrobatic and has a couple of throwing
moves but ultimately she's one of the blandest fighters on the roster.
Shatterax - One of the supervillains created for the Operation: Galactic Storm
storyline to fill up the newly-formed Starforce team. He's the only cybernetic
enhanced member on the Kree roster and the only one featured by name in the
comics. He would later play villain to Iron Man. He's not the fastest of fighters
but he has many weapons to counteract this. One of his most helpful attacks (or
annoying depending on what side you're on) is he can trap an opponent inside
a bubble leaving them helpless against any forthcoming attacks.
Supremor - A tentacled android designed to look like the Supreme Intelligence,
leader of the Kree Empire along with Ronan the Accuser. He's the most striking
looking fighter with an interesting move set that makes full use of his
appendages.

It's funny that the strikers are far better known than the actual fighters. The Marvel licence can't have been cheap for Data East so I don't know why these characters were pushed in the background to make way for some lesser known heroes. The rise of Marvel's Cinematic Universe wasn't a thing back then which goes some way in explaining it but both Iron Man and Thor had their own run of solo outings in comic book form so that should've given them extra attention.

To accompany the standard Vs mode that every fighter has, Galactic Storm also boasts a Story mode and Battle mode. Story modes are not uncommon in the genre, but to my knowledge they're mainly bonus additions to home console ports. This is the first that I've seen that includes it directly into the arcade cabinet. The story follows a 19-issue comic-book arc from the early 90s known as Operation: Galactic Strike which sees two warring alien empires - the Kree and the Shi'ar - bring their fight to Earth. Naturally the Avengers play peacekeeper taking the side of the Shi'ar. The Kree become something of a recurring enemy throughout the Marvel universe but few of the individual characters will make much of a second appearance. Many previous Marvel story arcs do get retrofitted to include the Kree (for example the X-Men like Inhumans are created due to a Kree formula known as Terrigen Mist). Beyond this, not much of any real importance happens other than a brief spat between Captain America and Iron Man which foreshadows their later animosity towards each other.

The Story mode also does something quite unique in it's multiplayer. Player 2 can decide if he wants to be friend or foe. Being a foe pits you against Player 1 in standard single combat, but choosing to be a friend will initiate a co-op mode - another first in a fighting game and one I've rarely seen since. The two of you can even perform combo moves - another feature adopted by Capcom albeit not in co-op form. Another plus is that it gives you double the strikers, overpowering The Avengers completely.

Striker attacks come in two-fold. There are two bars which fill up consecutively after every hit taken or special move landed. One represents a regular call to arms, while the other brings forth an even more special attack for massive damage. Each requires their own input of a special move to trigger, so it won't be too easy to pull off. You'll have to learn the ropes of any given character if you want to see Giant Man's huge, hairy arm attempt to grab the opposition King Kong style. All of the named members of the Kree Starforce team that features in the comic are here. As well as Ronan the Accuser, the remaining strikers for Team Kree consist of Ultimas, Sentry and Captain Atlas (spelled Att-las in the game for some reason). You can't mix and match heroes with villains but considering the helpers don't make too much of a different you won't miss it.

At the end of the Story mode is a gun-toting boss named Galenkor. His design is fairly unmemorable with an equally unremarkable move set. He's not playable at all which is not unusual for arcade bosses but I doubt he'd be anyone's favourite if you could.

You can tell why this game was so quickly forgotten. It was released during the height of fighting game popularity with Tekken, Virtua Fighter and Killer Instinct taking up the arcade floor space that could've been Galactic Storm's. The graphical style is very much like Killer Instinct with CGI-turned-sprite based characters. The animation was far smoother in Rare's classic with a larger roster of fighters too. And that came out in 1994. The US release was also delayed to 1996 when even more competition was mounting up.

The Avengers: Galactic Storm is not a terrible game. It was simply too late to market. The quality of its competition was so high that it was lost in the crowd. I would say that even now there's little to recommend it above its contemporaries. What is undeniable, however, is that this fighting game - the last of such games that Data East would develop - owes a debt to the genre.


To download the game, follow the link below. This custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses M.A.M.E. to emulate the games on modern PCs. XBox 360 controllers supported. Tested on Windows 10.

File Size: 77 Mb.  Install Size: 206 Mb.  Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ

Download


The Avengers: Galactic Storm is © Data East Corporation
The Avengers is © Marvel Inc.
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me

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2 comments:

  1. Was that failure to recognize Giant Man a joke, or...?

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    Replies
    1. It was an attempt at a joke, although half based on truths. The other three have all either had their own comic series, a movie adaptation of at least a co-lead in other video games. Considering his size Giant Man seems to be ignored when it comes to other media. Being more of a gamer or a movie nerd he's sure passed me by (like Ant-Man did until the movie).

      When it comes to comics I'm more of a DC guy anyway...

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