ARABIAN FIGHT / Sega / Arcade
 
 
 
Aside from the unusual Middle Eastern setting, Arabian Fight focuses on just two things to stand out from the glut of early '90s beat-em-ups: sprites that can scale to huge levels and foreground anime frames to sometimes make it seem like enemies are entering the screen from the front (though it goes heavy on this only in the first couple of levels then kinda abandons the idea for the rest of the game).
 
 


Of course, Sega were the pioneers and kings of scaling in this era, so it's apropo for them to implement it in a beat-em-up. And on purely a technical level, it's actually quite impressive, as you can freely scale as you move from background to foreground, with lots of different sprites present -- the closest comparison of the time was the scaling SNK was using in their fighting games like Samurai Shodown and Art of Fighting, but that was locked to a more limited range of perspective than this is. Unfortunately, the actual gameplay is clunky and choppy, below-par when put up next to the Konami and Capcom beat-em-ups of the time.
 
 


At least it does offer simultaneous four-player action. You can play as "Sinbat," Sinbat Who Lifts, some Buddhist monk that wound up here somehow, or requisite hottie belly dancer not dressed appropriately for combat. The sheer size of sprites and the foreground layers were compensated for in terms of memory use by cutting the regular animations of character and enemy sprites down considerably, however, making the whole thing look and feel choppy as you move about. Hit detection is also extremely iffy, which is the main culprit in sucking quarters.
 
 


It's also quite repetitive as there's only a handful of enemy types. The final level is padded out simply by dumping all the tougher enemies and bosses on you en masse repeatedly, and then the last boss is the ultimate cheap turtler, doing nothing but hiding at the edges of the screen and flinging screen-filling spells at you while you're tied up with mooks.
 
 


We've talked about "visual spectacle" games usually having iffy gameplay even in their prime and then going on to age like milk, and Arabian Fight is a prime example. If you've never heard of it before, there's very good reason -- it just isn't something worth preserving except as a technical curiosity.
 
 
 
 
 
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