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Cult Video Game Essentials: Pit-Fighter

Pit-Fighter is a 1990 arcade fighting game by Atari Games that broke new ground by using digitized live actors. TheJapanese arcade release was published by Konami.

The graphic animation for the player character(s) and opponents were created through a bluescreen process, where the various poses & moves of the characters were acted out by hired actors in front of a video camera. The game’s on-screen character animation are replays of the actual footage, not a rotoscoped (redrawn) animation as was common in other games. Pit Fighter was the second fighting game to use digitized sprites, after Home Data’s Reikai Dōshi: Chinese Exorcist.

Like most fighting games the player must jump, punch, and kick their opponent until his/her energy runs out. If the player presses all three of the buttons at a time, the character will perform a “super move”. The player begins Pit-Fighter by choosing one of the three playable characters, who all have different moves, speed, and power.

In the player select screen in the arcade version, each player has a color to select the fighters with: for player one it’s blue, for player two it’s red and for player three it’s yellow. As many as three people can play at a time, but there will be extra opponents to fight during any of this game’s 15 different matches.

Pit-Fighter features 3 playable fighters:

  • Buzz (Bill Chase): A big and strong ex-professional wrestler.
  • Ty (Marc Williams): An agile kickboxing champion.
  • Kato (Glenn Fratticelli): A quick 3rd degree black belt.

pit-fighter_domark_6

Pit-Fighter also has 8 unplayable opponents. Several of the characters share the names of the actors who played them:

  • Executioner (John Aguire)
  • Southside Jim (James Thompson)
  • Angel (Angela Stellato)
  • C.C. Rider (Rich Vargas)
  • Mad Miles (Miles McGowan)
  • Heavy Metal (Kim Rhodes)
  • Chainman Eddie (Eddie Venancio)
  • Masked Warrior (Bill McAleenan)

Every third fight is a bonus round known as a Grudge Match. In a Grudge Match, the player must fight against a CPU controlled clone of his or her fighter (if playing alone) or the other players in a multiplayer game. Getting knocked down three times eliminates a player from the Grudge Match, the winner is the last man standing. Losing the Grudge Match does not eliminate a player, but the winner gets bonus money.

The final battle, the “Championship Match”, is between the player and the mysterious entity that taunts between matches every once in a while, the Masked Warrior. If more than one person is playing the game before this match, they must fight each other to the death until only one becomes victorious and can fight him.

Sometimes during matches the player will come across foreign objects such as knives, crates, sticks, motorcycles, and bar stools that can be thrown at you or your opponent. The player may also come across a power-up known as the “power pill”. If the player or the opponent grab this item, one will become temporarily stronger and take less damage from hits.

At times even the crowd will interfere in the fights. Two characters, known as Knife Man (Milt Loper) and Knife Woman (Dianne Bertucci), will come out of the crowd and stab the player with their daggers. The player can take these nuisances out with one hit. Sometimes there is also a fat bearded man with a stick. If the player knocks him down, the player can take the stick and use it against the current opponent.

The audience will also push any fighter that ends up among them, and stays there more than a few seconds. They will be forced back into the fighting area.

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