The Outfoxies

Platform: Arcade (NB-2 hardware)
Developer: Namco
Publisher: Namco
Released: 1994
Genre: Fighting - Arena
Players: 1-2 (Vs.)

The Outfoxies is one of Namco's finest arcade games, certainly their best from the 90s, and the fact that it was never ported to a home console, even to this day, is practically a crime. I'm talking high treason here, because it's incredible. Taking control of one of seven deadly assassins- including a monkey named Dweeb, the killer ex-Siamese twins Danny and Demi, and Harrison Ford look-alike John Smith- your objective, as told by the sinister-sounding Mr. Acme, is to mark the other assassins as targets, fight them on their home turf, and kill your enemy by any means. In the single-player mode, you fight the assassins one-by-one before going to Mr. Acme's mansion to pick up your pay, and there you find out Mr. Acme is a slippery customer indeed...

The game itself bears a striking resemblance to Namco's own Rolling Thunder, with mostly the same feel regarding the controls- your chosen assassin can jump, do a few basic physical attacks, reach up to higher platforms and hop down to lower ones, and of course, grab weapons. Picked up by tapping Down, these range from generic weapons that appear on every stage (pistols, grenades with a seven-second fuse, and rocket launchers) to more surreal weapons (lumps of coal and fruit baskets) and even things like mounted machine-guns and a gigantic cannon (with human cannonballs) specific to certain stages. Each weapon functions very differently, and their wonderfully over-the-top effects (especially the explosives) give the game a chaotic, no-holds barred feel, eerily similar to Smash Bros., despite predating it by several years, and it just feels satisfying to nail your enemy with a rocket launcher from across the screen.

The big draw, though, are the environments themselves. There's one for each assassin and in all of them, at any give moment, shit is going on. There's always a threat, whether it's a circus animal wandering on-screen, or the factory you're in producing live missiles for you to throw, or even the boat you're on rocking violently back and forth. The best is the skyscraper stage, which literally crumbles around you as you're fighting- a bomb goes off, an electric generator explodes, and a stray helicopter destroys the floor several times, forcing you to work your way down the building before it eventually crushes the player with the least health... Assuming you both live that long. With these exciting fighting locales in place, the game is absolute carnage from the start of a fight right until the end, and somehow defies close examination- it's just massively entertaining.

The Outfoxies truly is the complete package- the visuals are minutely detailed (check out the blood splatter when your character dies), the music is excellent, the sound effects hit the right note, the controls and abilities your character has gives you free reign to reach any part of the arena, and above all, the game itself is a fantastic arena-based fighting game that absolutely has to be played with a friend to truly appreciate. I promise you that if you play with a relatively skilled opponent, you will have the fight of your life, and all the crazy shit that goes on makes it all the better. The only real criticisms you could level at the game are honestly minor- the AI in one-player mode cheats quite a bit, and perhaps there should've been some more noticeable differences between the characters- but the fact of the matter is, there is nothing quite like The Outfoxies- 'Rolling Thunder meets Smash Bros.' doesn't do it justice. If you consider yourself a video game connoisseur, then find this game and play it!

For providing the ultimate in arena combat, The Outfoxies is awarded...

In a sentence, The Outfoxies is...
Balls-to-the-wall excellence.

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