On the first ever edition of Retro Game Review, I talk about 1996’s Red Earth from Capcom – an arcade fighting game similar to Street Fighter but focused solely on boss battles with some incredible character design and art that more than holds up decades later.
Game reviewed on Pandora’s Box using an arcade stick.
I completely missed out on Red Earth (Warzard in Japan) – an incredible fighting game from 1996 that was only released overseas and never had a sequel. It’s like Street Fighter meets Cuphead – in that you choose from four fighters: Leo (the warrior with a lion’s head and my personal favorite), Kenji (the ninja), Tessa (the puffy pants witch) and Mai Ling (the warrior with pigtails) and proceed to battle 8 bosses. Each fighter has their own story, but you’ll be taking on the same boss characters, just in a different order with some minor story tweaks. My favorite boss characters were Hauzer (the freaking T-Rex) and Ravange (an Egyption Sphinx with multiple wild heads). Each battle is different than the one that precedes it and over the course of your journey you’ll level up and become immune to various boss attacks like ‘poison’ and ‘fire’.
There’s also a password save system so when you die, and you will – a lot, you’ll be able to enter a password and resume where you left off retaining your power-ups. It’s a cool feature for sure and it really helps set the game apart from the Street Fighter franchise by incorporating some minor RPG elements. You’ll also be surprised to find FATALITIES in Red Earth – yes you can kill your opponents in a Capcom game, something rarely featured in any of the company’s other franchises.
Red Earth stands the test of time first and foremost because of the astounding character design and artwork. The pixel art still looks badass decades later and focusing only on boss battles from beginning to end isn’t something most gamers are used to tackling today unless they enjoy torturing themselves by playing Cuphead over and over. You can do 2-player mode as well, but you’re limited to the four story characters so I would’ve loved a way to play as the bosses in multiplayer but that’s the only negative aspect of an incredible game that you probably didn’t know existed.
I’m sad that I never got to play this one in an actual arcade but I’m happy that I found it all these years later. The gameplay mechanics are extremely solid and you don’t have to be an E-sports caliber gamer to tackle it either as my kids played and had a blast just button mashing their way through each character’s story. That final boss Scion is brutal (HE HAS DRAGONS) but the satisfaction of defeating him is incredibly gratifying.