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Retro Friday #2: Red Earth

Retro Friday #2: Red Earth

4 min

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Capcom fighter that many don't remember.

Most fighting game fans recognize Capcom as the developers behind Street Fighter, the behemoth of the fighting game industry. However, they've done so much more in the past, and yet many of their older titles are almost entirely unknown in the wider fighting games community.

Fortunately, Capcom themselves still have a degree of respect for their legacy, so today we will be talking about a title that was recently re-released as a part of the "Capcom Fighting Collection" - Red Earth, also known as War-Zard in Japan.

It's a shame that such a cool game is relatively unheard of. This was Capcom's first game for their new arcade hardware, CP System III. The same hardware that was used to create a masterpiece that is the Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike.

Third Strike is well known for its gorgeous graphics and animations, but Red Earth is not far behind. While the movement isn't quite as smooth, it aged incredibly well thanks to the sheer fidelity of the art and the style present within every pixel.

The unfortunate downside of this being the only game in this setting/IP, is that we only get a small cast of 4 characters. Each of them is very unique, and there is some nuance there that we'll mention later, but it would be amazing to get another game with a much bigger cast where everyone is as vibrant and interesting as the cast of Red Earth. Though for now, most we can hope for are some costumes or references in other Capcom games.

Graphics aren't everything, of course, and Red Earth has some cool stuff going on with the gameplay. While it controlled much like any other Capcom fighter, the format is very different, almost archaic at this point. If you've been watching our videos about the history of fighting games, you will remember that beat-em-ups had a massive impact on their evolution. Yi Ar Kung Fu was much like any other fighting game, and yet it was a solo beat-em-up where you go through a series of bosses. Street Fighter started much the same way, you had 1 character, a clone of said character, but plenty of CPU bosses.

Red Earth is an evolution of this format in every way. Want to go through the single player? Well, enjoy a bunch of unique bosses, like a giant demon right out of Samurai Shodown, or a goddamn T-Rex with ram horns. What's amazing is that it's not some generic boss rush either. You actually get constant story beats that are different for each of the four characters. As a nice bonus, it even had a sudo-RPG system where you could gain experience to improve your character as you go through the story mode.

It's just a shame that none of the cool bosses that you fight in the campaign are playable. The bosses Hydron and Hauzer, would later be playable in Capcom Fighting Evolution, but that was the last time we really got to play these characters, and just such a massive shame. Even within the game's versus mode (oh yeah, there's a versus mode, it's a fighting game after all), you can only pick one of four characters.

Having a massive roster is a real problem, but it's also bad when your roster is so small, that the total amount of match-ups matches the number of characters in Super Turbo. Their abilities still make the versus mode worth at least experiencing, but it's obvious why you don't really see people sticking by this game. There's just not much here for people who prefer the competitive side of fighting games.

I hope this week's Retro Highlight piqued your curiosity, because Red Earth is worth a try, and even if you don't play it, it's worth knowing about a Capcom fighting game that looked amazing and was one of the earliest attempts to create a unique and compelling single player experience in what was a relatively stagnant part of the genre.

See you next week!

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