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Fighter Maker 2
Score: 83%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Agetec
Developer: Enterbrain
Media: CD/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Miscellaneous

Graphics & Sound:
First things first. Fighter Maker 2 is not a game, but software that allows you to make games. This having been said, it stands to reason that this kind of title will be of interest to those who are not only gamers, but are also keenly interested in game development. Based on the fact that almost every staff member we have here is interested in going into game development, and the fact that we often receive emails that indicate an interest on our readers' parts, I believe there probably are a large number of gamers out there that would like this sort of thing. However, using this sort of software takes a lot of time, and therefore a lot of patience. This is a much rarer characteristic in gamers, indeed.

The graphics in Fighter Maker 2 are not bad. They're not phenomenal, either. The characters look decent and the arenas are okay. Fighter Maker 2 is a far cry from the latest Tekken or Virtua Fighter games, but that's not the primary focus of the 'game', either.

The music and sound effects are pretty decent, with some nice, pumping music and the expected grunts, yells and whooshes.

As a fighting game, Fighter Maker 2 is probably a bit lackluster. The demo characters that come with it are not the most well developed characters around, and there's not a well developed background. This is understandable, however, as the whole idea is for you to create your own fighters. Using these demo fighters as a basis, you can change their appearance, their stance, moves, combos - you name it!

The appearance of the characters is determined in a matter similar to any other game with a 'Create-A-Character' feature; you choose from a set number of faces, hair types, shirts, pants, etc. and you can alter their color as you see fit. There are, of course, a few 'out there' parts to choose from, such as a Christmas outfit and tiger paw hands and feet.

The moves allow for much more tweaking. You use the predefined martial arts styles that are available, modify them to whatever degree pleases you, or create your own styles completely from scratch. This is all via an editor that has a timeline system for laying out a move with fully positional body parts (head, neck, chest, right shoulder, right upper arm, right elbow, right hand, etc.) - allowing you to precisely position your characters into the pose you want. The software will fill in any motion in between 'key frames' where you specifically design a pose. This allows you to only create the key poses, where there's a change in momentum - greatly reducing your work. The finished product is a fighting game that you can play with your friends, but more importantly, that you can brag about. If there is a special move or combo that you dreamed up that you've never seen done, this is your chance to make it a reality.

Character animation is not a simple task, and when you have to use a gamepad to work through the menus and make the changes, it's just that much harder. There's definitely a learning curve here, but quite frankly, this is the sort of thing that may be immensely fun to some and not the slightest bit interesting to others. If you're interested in seeing what goes into creating a fighting game from a designer's point of view, then it's probably worth the time and effort. It takes work, but the results can be rewarding...

Game Mechanics:
There are many times in the editors in Fighter Maker 2 that I wished I could be using a mouse. The gamepad was never designed to be a high precision tool for doing work with. It seems to me that Fighter Maker 2 could have been much better had the editor supported keyboard and mouse input. (For those of you who might not know, the PS2's USB ports can be used for just that in other PS2 titles...)

As a programmer, I am well aware of the difficulty in writing things so that they are easily modified later 'on-the-fly'. This is undoubtedly where a lot of the effort that went into this title was concentrated. Incidentally, this is also responsible for the long loading times since it has to load your data. Fighter Maker 2 is definitely worth picking up if you're an aspiring game developer and you'd like to see more about character animation and how it is done.

-Geck0, GameVortex Communications
AKA Robert Perkins

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