Thursday, 20 March 2008


Savaki, that's the name of this little hidden gem, and I have absolutely no idea about its meaning. Anyway, this is a fighting game released by Cynus (it's the first time I hear about these guys) near the end of the Saturn's life in Japan (here it sadly died a lot sooner...), more precisely in April, 1998 (the Dreamcast was released there in November of the same year). Being a late game produced by an obscure company certainly didn't help its popularity, so it's no surprise that this is a pretty well hidden gem (I could barely find anything about it on google). Oddly enough, it doesn't seem to be too pricey, as you can find it on ebay as cheap as $17.00.

anyway, it's too bad that this game received so little attention, because this is a pretty good fighter with a lot of unique features to it. For a start you can forget 50-hit combos or huge explosions of light whenever you hit your opponent. This is a realistic game, with realistic characters and attacks, and more than once it reminded me of the cult classic Ultimate Fighting Championship for the Dreamcast. The major difference is that here you don't fight in a professional ring but in a cage in some sort of underground fighting club.

The characters don't have names, they're known by their fighting styles, which is what appears above their life bar. From karate, to taekwondo, boxing or the less technical free style, there's something here for everyone, and each fighting style has its own perks, so don't expect to master them all in just a couple of fights. Talking about master, this really is a game where you have to know what you're doing and basic button-mashing won't take you anywhere. There's a button for punching and another for kicking, which in addition to the d-pad allow for a handful of different moves, but then there's the Savaki button.

This is the only hint I have about the meaning of that word, and I can only assume that it has something to do with counter-attacks, since that's basically what that button does. If you time it correctly, a simple press of this button allows you to deflect an attack from your opponent and leave it open for a counter-attack, unable to block or fight back, causing some serious damage.

But wait, for the combat system as more to it. Is your opponent always blocking your every move? If he is, there's another solution besides letting him attack first. Simply fake an attack, whether a punch or a kick, wait for him to lower his guard, and then attack for real! This is done with the two corresponding buttons, once again providing a simple, intuitive combat system that requires timing and brains instead of button-mashing or 10-button combos.

Graphically this game is nothing short of stunning. Being developed late in the Saturn's lifespan, when talented programmers already knew how to take advantage of the system's unique architecture, certainly helped this, and the result is a really good-looking game. The character's models have an high number of polygons to them (nothing like the square characters of the first Virtua Fighter), there are some impressive light effects and, to make it all better, it all runs at some rock-solid 60FPS.

(I recommend everyone to check this guy's other videos, there's a lot of great Saturn stuff there)

Unfortunately there is only one stage. I know this is somewhat understandable due to the game's concept, but come on, they could've at least made different types of "cages" or even some street fights, now that would be awesome! There aren't many game modes, also, with just the basic trio arcade, vs. and practice. All of this is somewhat forgiveable if we take in account that this game is, above all else, all about the gameplay, and the true fans of this title will surely have a blast playing the same modes over and over again, while mastering all the characters.

So, to wrap it all up, this is a pretty unique and interesting game, and I think that it's a worthy addition to the collection of every fighting game's fan with a Saturn, as long as you keep in mind that, unless you're really hardcore, it won't last long once the novelty passes.


elend said...

That's a game I planned to finally buy in Japan! :D I heard about it some years ago and thought it may be great. Nice to see some videos finally. Quite interesting.

NebachadnezzaR said...

Now you know, if you happen to find it cheap go for it :)

ac said...

Savaki! I imported this game back when it came out, mainly because I was infatuated with the various SEGA fighters of the time (VF, Fighters Megamix, Last Bronx).

At the time, Savaki was billed as a game created by fans of the Virtua Fighter series. Not sure if that little nugget is true, but that's what it said in the NCS description.

fatherkrishna said...

I bought this before I even finished reading the review!

Great work Nebacha! You've furnished me with another gem!

NebachadnezzaR said...

ac, indeed this game shares some similarities with Virtua Fighter, mainly because both games focus on more realistic characters and attacks, but gameplay-wise this is totally different.

Father, are you serious? *checks ebay auction* OMFG, you're really serious!

I hope you'll like it. :)

Fredy said...

Man.. this looks awesome. Next week expect me at your house to play a bit ;D

NebachadnezzaR said...

You're welcome, man :)