In the early days of the Neo-Geo SNK tried its hardest to cover all of the potential money-making bases of arcade and home console gaming. Fatal Fury catered to the one-on-one fighting crowd, NAM 1975 was an Operation Wolf clone with a difference, and Burning Fight clearly looked towards Capcom’s Final Fight for inspiration.
Just like in Capcom’s game there are three muscle-bound fighters to choose from. Duke is a total copy of Cody and, true to form, is the most balanced character available. Ryu is the ‘Guy’ clone (he even wears the same outfit) and is faster, but weaker. Finally, Billy takes the role of Mike Haggar, although SNK at least tried to make him appear different from his Final Fight counterpart.
The gameplay is just what you’d expect from this kind of game; you walk from one end of the stage to the other punching the living daylights out of anyone foolish enough to stand in your way – which in the zany world of scrolling fighters is pretty much everyone. You have only a handful of moves at your disposal, with the usual punch combos and flying kicks accompanied by throws and grapple attacks.
There’s really nothing here that wasn’t in Final Fight as far as offensive options are concerned. This is a shame when you consider that Burning Fight came out two years after Capcom’s effort, and the developer had ample time to make their title stand out from the crowd.
Visually, Burning Fight again trails the game it tries so hard to emulate; Final Fight is ascetically leagues above SNK’s game. Many early Neo-Geo titles were graphically disappointing and this is no exception. Some levels are genuinely attractive and there’s some decent use of sprite scaling sprinkled here and there, but overall the visual package is uninspiring.
The character sprites are basic and poorly animated and there’s also not nearly enough variety in the enemy designs; consequently it all ends up feeling a little repetitive, in both looks and gameplay.
Burning Fight does provide limited enjoyment and fans of this genre will probably extract at least a few hours of entertainment, but ultimately this is a poor man’s Final Fight, nothing more, nothing less.