Violence in a Derbyshire coalmine

Pit-Fighter logo Amiga Computing Gamer Gold

DOMARK * £25.99 * 1/2 meg * Joystick * Out now

There is currently a debate raging in our office as to the moral and ethical aspects of violent games such as Final Fight and this one, Pitfighter. On the one hand it could be argued, with no evidence bar supposed "common sense", that it encourages violence and that 'the kids' will be influenced by the extreme scenes they see and try to emulate them.

Soon after the release of such a game the streets would be awash with the blood of OAP's, dogs and other household pets that had been inn the way at the time. The only evidence to support this is that soon after the previews and early reviews of US Gold's Final Fight appeared in the computer press, a game which includes a scene where they players must destroy a car with iron bars for points, the riots in Cardff, Oxford, Birmingham and Newcastle took place. Damage cause to property was extremely high especially to private vehicles. Hmmm.

On the other hand there is the argument that seeing and taking part in such silicon violence is a form of therapy, a release for 'the kids' who would otherwise be forced to vent their frustrations elsewhere, with society being forced to take the burden. Recent studies have shown that 90 per cent of those who took part in the recent riots have a home computer but only 3% of those could afford a copy of Final Fight, so in fact social deprivation is what's truly behind the troubles.
Frankly I think it is all a load of pretentious twaddle and you should all sit down, play the games and enjoy the bloodfest, revel in the mindless violence and smack anyone who tries to interrupt.

Well, enough of the polemic and on with the review. Based on the hugely successful and well ace Atari coin-op, Pitfighter comes from what is apparently the world's favourite illegal sport. Frankly I thought it was dwarf throwing but apparently that is legal (disgusting! Social Conscience Ed.).

What pit fighting involves is lots of people who are addicted to blood and garbling but can't afford to pay to see someone's brain smashed in the Albert Hall. What they do instead is watch someone's brain get smashed in some abandoned dockyard while they all stand around and cheer and lose their money with some greasy-haired bookmaker who has a pet rat which feeds from the same Chinese food carton as him.

You take control of one of the three pit fighters - Ty, Kato or Buzz,an d you try and guide them to victory over a series of mad opponents who get madder by the round, who will do their level-best to kick seven shades of something or other out of you. The reason behind these extremes of violence is nothing so complex as a dispute over football or even an out of hand "did you spill my pint?" style ruckus. Nope, nothing more than the greatest evil of all, money.

Should you win a fight you will be awarded a Fight Purse, a Knockout Bonus for how many knockouts you make in the round, and a Brutality Bonus for how, erm, brutal you were in the round. You know the kind of thing - did you call his Dad a wimp, his mother a whore and his grandmother an alcoholic? If not the bonus may not be quite so big. This money translates into a score. You can't actually spend it on anything but it gives you some indication of whether you are hard or just a wimp.

Each fighter has seven moves at his disposal, all accessed by holding down fire and moving the joystick in the direction that summons the move you want. For example Fire, Up and Right (when facing right) will cause the character to perform a jump kick. Naturally this control method will cause some problems at first, moving instead of attacking and vice versa, but once you are familiar with all the moves a little practice will reveal some startling results. Probably how quickly the others flatten you.

The fighters also have their own special moves, usually three each (see box), but only one can be accessed at any time, the computer selecting which is the most appropriate for the moment.

As you progress through the rounds, the playfield will be littered with more and more things that you can pick up, ranging from Shurikens to motorbikes(!). These items can be used by yourself or by your computer controlled opponents to cause even more damage in an already violent world.

The best thing to pick up is of course the Powerpill. Swallowing this baby will not only make you a wow at all Acid House raves this Christmas but it will also mean that your blows do twice the damage, and the opponents blows do half the damage for the duration of the effect. PCP, Angel Dust, you name it but nothing has a patch on this stuff, and to cap it all you flash green as well!

The graphical style is what makes this very playable game stand out initially, it uses digitised pictures of fighters in various positions for the sprites, they can look blocky but it gives it a very strong "look". In conjunction with this the game gives the impression of zooming in and out by scaling the sprites and backgrounds in size to make sure they are always on screen at any one time. This can occasionally make the animation look a tad stilted as it zooms and pans but surprisingly the speed suffers very little.

Playability is superb, especially in two-player mode where you get the chance to beat up each other as well as the bad guys, and the variety of moves from the vicious opponents is enough to keep you guessing through the many levels.

Even if you do get some of them sussed there is always the challenge of getting that bit quicker at knocking them down as each bout is timed. Get a knockout in less than 50 seconds and you get a special bonus for a record knockout.

In short it is highly addictive violence, great for expending some hormones in a non-sexual way, and it certainly beats chucking petrol bombs around a council estate (absolutely - Social Conscience Ed).

We three violent gits of Orient are:
Pit-Fighter: Buzz Pit-Fighter: Ty Pit-Fighter: Kato
Ty: A kickboxer, agile, sly and god with rice (so I'm told). His special moves are the spin kick, the flying kick and the Roundhouse.
Kato: The higest black belt ever, amen. He's quick when he uses the Combo Punch, the Flip Kick and the Backhand.
Buzz: A pro-wrestler who's never heard of Hulk Hogan would tremble with fear if he ever saw Buzz when he was using his belly flop, head butt or pile driver.

Pit-Fighter logo

A simple round-by-round bloodbath. Here we have a cash crop beat 'em-up where the guy who still has his limbs intact at the end wins. Victory earns the fighter a forklift load of cash and the chance to crack heads with another, higher-ranked foe. At the end of the line lives a pleasant little chap called the Ultimate Warrior, the reigning pit-fighting champ who would like to introduce his boot to your liver.

Fighting in the pit is a joystick-intensive experience, guaranteed to wrench the wrist. Replacing the coin-ops three fire-button system, the conversion uses the joystick position to determine just how you will inflict ABH. The rapid switching of direction and the waggling accuracy it demands puts the pressure on. Randomly throwing the stick and pressing the fire won't work: you need to choose that next shot and make it count. The other guys will.

Once you have become orientated to the combat system and throwing a combo punch is second nature, you are ready to fight for the pit-fighter crown. The first few opponents are easily beaten, but by about Round Five the game has changed its mind about being lenient and really starts to kick heads.

The timing has to be perfect for each and every strike. Punches thrown in vain only allow the other fighter to step in and start on a sequence of blows. Once you caught close in, your man has little chance of escape, and only the most frenzied button pusher stands a chance of putting out some reciprocal damage.

Pit-fighting it seems defies physics. Often blows do not actually have to land on the opponents to cause any damage, near enough will do. Little spurts of blood and sweat can be seen flying, even when kicks have most obviously missed. The downside of this effect comes when you try to collect the weapons or power pills that are scattered across the floor of the arena. Accurate positioning is essential for collection, but as the foes are constantly in hot pursuit, you rarely get a second chance at grabbing that barrel/knife etc, and once is rarely enough.

Boot camp
Fighting foibles aside the mock - almost camp - violence is fun. There is none of this waiting for floored folk to stand up again; you can whack them on the floor. All manner of furniture can be picked up and thrown in the face of adversaries, smashing it at them. It is comic book, knockabout stuff, and real amusing if you turn the brain off. Two-player aggression is best, as ever. Will you help or hinder your associate? Should you team up to reach Ultimate Warrior and then sort out who is the boss? Or is it every psycho for themselves?

Pit-fighter's toughest opponent, though, is its coin-op parent. The arcade features huge digitised sprites, which the Amiga does its best to mimic. The coin-ops stars could not be described as fluid movers, but their computer brethren jerk far more. The sheer screen size of the arcade gives it a display advantage, but the Amiga has to shrink the whole show down somewhat. The reduction in size, killing substantial amounts of the coin-op's 'wow'-factor.

Ultimate worrier?
Domark's variant follows the coin-op rigidly in terms of structure and implementation. But they have copied some of the weaker elements too. The inter-match sample of the Ultimate Warrior coming on tough just is not up to scratch - a word that describes it perfectly. You cannot hear the quality in the arcade, but at home you can, and it grates.

Carry on in the car park, is an apt description of Pit-fighter. It is silly and violent, especially in two-player mode. The technical problems involved in getting such memory hungry beast onto the Amiga and limitations of the original design do restrict the game's chances. It is light entertainment, not a long stayer, but an amusing diversion for those of an aggressive bent. There is nothing here that adds anything to the beat 'em-up genre, it puts up a brave fight but is eventually overwhelmed by the need to copy its coin-op, custom chipped, parent.

Stehend KO?

Pit-Fighter logo

In der Spielhalle lebte die Hinterhof-Schlägerei von ihrer beeindruckenden Digi-Optik, spielerisch war der Gassenhauer von jeher wenig berauschend. Am Amiga sind die Prügelknaben zwar auch digitalisiert, aber sonst...

Der Drei-Spieler-Teammodus des Automaten ist hier natürlich nicht zu finden, immerhin dürfen sich jedoch zwei Amigianer einen Kampfstil aussuchen, um dann teils mit-, teils gegen-einander anzutreten (natürlich kann auch solo gekloppt werden).

Ob man nun mit einem Catcher, Karateka oder Kickboxer in die Arena tritt, jeder hat neben den üblichen Sprüngen und Tritten ein paar ganz spezielle Techniken auf Lager. Da werden Salti geschlagen, Köpfe getreten oder Bodyslams angesetzt, bis das Blut spritzt, zusätzlich dienen herumliegende Tonnen, Shurikens oder Motorräder als Wurf-geschoße.

Bei dieser Waffenvielfalt helfen den acht Computergegnern auch ihre verschiedenen Kampftaktiken nicht viel, mit vier Leben und drei Continues ist das Game flott durchgespielt.

Zwischenrunden sowie ein Zeit- bzw. Brutalitätsbonus für besonders schnelle Niedermache sorgen für Punkte, die grobkörnigen, farb-armen und schwach animierten Sprites jedoch keineswegs für Begeisterung. Nur die flotten Zooms in die Bildschirmtiefe wissen zu gefallen, die Hintergründe wirken hingegen noch langweilige als das Intro.

Auch die Musik fällt kaum aus dem Rahmen, die FX beschränken sich auf laues Kampfgeschrei. Rundum gelungen ist allein die Stick-Steuerung, mit der man jederzeit gezielte Schläge anbringen kann.

Für kurzfristigen Prügel-spaß ist Pit-Fighter also allemal gut, aber sobald die Gegner abgezockt sind, wandert die Disk halt schnell in die wohlverdiente Vergessenheit. (rl)

Pit-Fighter logo

Ultra-violent, ultra-realistic fight action - just the thing for Xmas!

This is Domark's big game for Christmas, and hmm - it's a strange one. For a start, it's a straight beat 'em up, set in a small area with a number of characters simply running around pounding on each other. You might have thought these had died a death a a while ago as being hopelessly old fashioned and limited, but no - recently a lot of big arcade machines have appeared using this formula, and they're starting to filter down to the Amiga.

US Gold's Final Fight we covered last issue - in rather glowing terms for a beat 'em up actually - and there's Ocean's WWF and Storm's Final Blow still to come, but this month the great white hope of the genre is Domark's Pit-Fighter and yes, it's a strange one.

Strange initially in the look - this is a game with a gimmick. You can see it in the screenshots easily enough - the characters aren't sprites in the traditional sense, they're animated digitised pictures of real people. Some are professional wrestlers, some are kung fu types and so on - all a bit blocky and pixelised perhaps, but still disconcerting in that they look so much more like real people than the sort of characters you'd normally control in a beat 'em up. Add the blood that splatters out as you strike a blow, the darkened warehouse settings and lack of a rescue-your-girlfriend plot (the whole thing's based on a series of fights for money) and you get something with a very different, rather nastier atmosphere than your average punch and kick game.

Now, this is something that attracted attention excellently in the arcades - you could see people stop and look at the machine in surprise, perhaps banging a few 10 pees in out of sheer curiosity - and thus it did its job perfectly. ON the home computers, of course, it takes rather more to make an impact.
A gimmick that's good for a few 50 pees ain't necessarily going to make something worth coughing up £25 for, and for that reason I'm going to ignore the sometimes spectacular, sometimes silly visuals for a moment and talk a bit about the game itself.

It has to be said it has some clever things about it. As well as a large, animated (in a limited sort of a way) and rather grey audience dotted about the warehouses you fight in (there's not actually a pit in sight) there are four fighters I any one round. Two or three are computer controlled - in a two player game you get to team up against them, then fight the other human player (or a computer clone of yourself in one player mode) in a one-on-one grudge match that comes every third bout.

Cleverly the computer keeps track of all four players and makes sure it keeps everyone on screen at any one time - if one guy decides to face the wrong way and then wander off into the crowd, the camera, if you will, moves back, the figures receding until the screen can fit everything in.

Assorted weapons are dotted about the place (crates you can pick up, knives, sticks and so on), and a wide range of fighting moves also add to the thing, meaning there's a lot more to it than your average IK+ style beat 'em up-feel. Moves aren't really very instinctive - indeed, getting your man simply facing the right way can be a bit of a struggle! - and everything generally feels jerky, sluggish and slightly out of control.

Basically then a) Pit-Fighter looks interesting, but is ultimately pretty unrewarding to play and b) really should sound the death knell for straight beat 'em ups as full price products because even the best of them are simply too limited to justify £25 or anything near it. Here's the clearest argument yet for saying that games that work in arcades won't necessarily cut the mustard on a home computer, because arcade games are made to be played in short five or ten minute bursts, while a home game you're committed to for hours.

If you really want to go around kicking people in, you'd be better off plumping for the scrolling fantasy setting and sheer variety of a Golden Axe, say, anyday.

Pit-Fighter logo

How dirty do you want your beat 'em ups to be? Gang rumbles, drug wars, alien fights, muggings...? Well, Pitfighter is the most low-down, dirty, vile, neanderthal example of mindless violence you can find. It's the world's nasties sport, an illegal fight masquerading as a pseudo-gladiatorial conflict. Hey, but it's all right kids, the fighters appreciate the risks, and besides they like being beaten senseless with their own limbs.

For all these unpleasant reasons pitfighting is classic gaming material. Domakr's conversion includes a neat programme-style insert that opens up a new pitfighting season complete with an introduction from one Dickie Browne, the venerable sport's President, which welcomes fight fans, sets the scene for the coming year and introduces a new bike sponsor. Yahoma, who have kindly provided some hogs - not as prizes, not to ride, but for the fighters to throw at each other.

Piling into the game you find you have a choice of controlling three feisty challengers: Ty, Buzz and Kato, ambitious youngsters drated in to replace the previous season's challengers. Each of the new fighters comes from a different background: pro-wrestling, martial arts and kickboxing and each has his own specialist moves from their respective sports like spinkicks, bodyslams and combo punches. Choose one and you're ready to dish out some punishment.

The bouts unfold in the various wrongside of town/dockland backdrops amid crowds of baying punters who surround the fighters. There are no rules and no rounds. Last one standing wins.

The action is suitably violent. The fighters lay into each other with gusto and as you progress various objects litter the screen, shurikens, poles, crates and knives - all of which can be used to advantage. If you win each bout a screen appears depicting your muscleheaded hunk on a forklift together with quaint phrases like 'totally studly' and 'awesomely done'. A hefty purse is paid out for winning and a brutality bonus for the degree of violence involved.

Domark have coped well with the digitised figures, and much of the game is arcade perfect, but its biggest achievement is also its weakness, because Pitfighter's digitised graphics look good when still, but fail to impress when they're moving. Too few frames of animation mean that the fighter hop around like puppets and perform jerky moves. It's also possible to fight on top of the people dotted around which spoils the otherwise effective sense of depth created.

As a beat 'em up Pitfighter is a few ten pence in the arcades, but at 25 pounds it's hard to recommend it.

T H E   F I G H T E R S
These are the meatheads you'll have to lay out to be champ.

A slob in a hood. Don't be intimidated. He's slower than a fly in treacle.

A bearded wonder who fights to pay his mum's medical bills. But who's going to pay his?

No she isn't, but if you like being walked on in high heels you might get a kick from losing.

A biker who spends his spare time getting into bar brawls. A bit of a handful.

Ranked number two and only beaten by the champ so you'll have to pull off your meanest moves to waste this mutha.

Top beast. Numero uno. Truly the pits. Expect to be bounced around the screens for a few seconds before the game concludes rapidly.

Pit-Fighter logo Zero Hero

"Pitfightin'?" said Ben Caudell, "No problem, mate - I've got me dog out the back, I'll just take off 'is muzzle. Bet you a fiver he skins that cat good 'n' prper. Whaddyamean, it's me 'oo does the fightin'? I can't 'andle that. I think I'll stick to playing Domark's Pitfighter instead.

Pitfighting is not nice, not nce at all. In fact, it's downright nasty. Comparing it to regular boxing is like comparing Colour Me Badd to Guns 'N' Roses. It's illegal (which Colour Me Badd ought to be, but aren't). It's dangerous (which Colour Me Badd definitely are). And it usually results in a number of deaths (which is often the result when people hear Colour Me Badd). This rather dangerous 'sport' has been deemed a fit topic for a computer game, which you may have predicted by now (if you didn't already know, having read the Underwraps in last month's issue) unashamed beat 'em up.

In fact, 'beat 'em up' seems a bit too mild a name for it. It could more accurately be labelled a 'gouge the living daylights out of 'em up'. These are more suitable descriptions of the action that takes place in this conversion of the Atari coin-op.

You choose one of three hulking brutes to be your pitfighter, all of whom have special characteristics. There's Ty, the agile kickboxer who can perform a variety of flying kcisk. Ther's Kato, with a few very quick moves that he keeps under his karate black belt. And there's Buzz, an ex-pro wrestler who specialises in power moves - body slams, head butts and pile drivers. Two players can both take part in the same match, but don't think that thi'll make it easier, 'cos there'll be two opposing you.

Once you've decided which of these men most closely follows your own taste in fighting manoeuvres, it's straight into battle. Now you'll discover that pitfighting takes place not in pits, but generally in big warehouses with loads of objects - like knives, barrels and the occasional motorbike - lying around. You must have no qualms about throwing these beauties at your opponents - they'll certainly be inclined to lob them in your direction, casing you a great deal of damage. If there's nothing to hand, you can indulge in a little hand-to-hand combat. There's all the usual 'smashing people up' moves - kicking, punching and jumping - plus your guy's own personal favourite moves and a few rather neat ones. You can pick up your enemy, throw him to the ground and then pick up a knife or a stick and plunge it into him.

If you do manage to defeat your first opponent (the hooded 'Exe-cutioner'), it's on through the remaining seven. These fearsome adversaries include the leather-clad female pitfighter, Angle, and Mad Miles the Vietnam vet. But before that, you're paraded on a fork-lift truck driven by some smiling girlie, while all the cash you've earned is piled up underneath you!(?) Then, after two fights, it's time for a grudge match against the other player. This is a great way of taking out your aggression on that 'friend' you don't relly like who turned up at your house to have a go on Pitfighter.

There are several things that make this game a whole lot beefier than most other beat 'em ups - one of these is the graphics. Like the coin-op, it's all done with some pretty stunning digitized graphics which lend a massive chunk of realism to the violent action. You can see the gleam of your well-oiled pectorals as they flex after a successful throw. The other pretty fab feature is that, unlike most beat 'em ups, the action isn't purely on one plane, with you basically just facing your opponent. In Pitfighter you can move around in a three dimensional way, scaling into and out of the screen, roaming around the big, scrolling, er... 'pit', in case you need to steer clear of a particularly angry piece of er... 'beefcake'.

Amiga reviewBen: It has to be said that Domark (or rather Teque, who actualy programmed the game) has done a pretty darn fine job in converting Pitfighter, especially in the graphics department. Admittedly, the sprites are nowhere near as big or as detailed as they are in the arcade game, but then that's what you'd expect given the coin-op's dedicated chips. Through they are smaller, they still retain the realistic feel that makes the game so enjoyable to play, and gives it a great deal of atmosphere.

The fighting is rather well animated too - there are no jerky movements as you attempt a flying kick. And the 3D scaling effect of the original is still there too, which gives a very impressive feeling of depth as you move around the area, avoiding the screaming, animated audience which scrolls past you.

It really is great fun to play, giving you a great deal of control over the actions of your fighter. Unlike some beat 'em ups I could mention, it's not just a question of waggling the joystick around and hoping that you'll get a fist in the right place - you really need to throw a few good punches. Playing with two is the best lark, especially when you can 'accidentally' give the opposing player a kick in the shins (but then of course he can have a good old go at you in the grudge match).

One reservation is that it looks like it could be a bit easy for real hardened beat 'em uppers, especially the first few levels. Still, when you get up to your fifth round opponent, 'CC Rider' (a bit of a loon), then you'll probably find the going a little trickier. The only other annoyance is the mysterious pitfighter on a forklift picture. He's nice to look at once, but keeps interrupting the action with disk accessing when you'd really prefer to get a bit sweaty with your joystick and some beefy blokes(!).

If you're a fan of Pitfighter in the arcade, then you won't be disappointed with this computer version. Likewise, if you're a beat 'em up fan, this is a bit of a must. In fact, even if you absolutely abhor violence, you'll still probably have a heck of a lot of fun kicking the loony 'Heavy Metal' where it hurts. Stop

So you fancy being a pitfighter? Reckon you've got what it takes to make it in the dirty world of illegal death? There are several things you need before you can enter 'the pit'.
  1. Big muscles. Pretty obvious, really.
  2. No brain. Blindingly obvious, really.
  3. Some sort of strange apparel. Here we see illustrated the S & M gear favourted by many of today's top fighters.
  4. A strange name, usually implying some kind of insanity or fixation with violence. For instance, 'Mad Willy Deaththroat' or 'The Masked Samurai' are fine, while calling yourself 'The Timid Trainspotter' is unlikely to inspire fear in your enemy.
  5. A really, really big box of plasters in case you graze your knee.
Forget about boxing, that's for quiche-eaters. Real men pitfight. Here are the essential differences between the two sports.


IN! Fighting until the death, and then some.
IN! A really good kicking in the, erm... goolies. Wear a thick pair of pants.
IN! Throwing rocks.
IN! Sticks, knives and and anything else that you can stick nicely into someone else's solar plexus.
IN! The jeering crowd who push you back into 'the pit' if you try to leg it, because they've got a pony on the outcome.


OUT! Namby-pamby three minute rounds.
OUT! The shandy-drinking Marquis of Queensbury and no hitting below the belt.
OUT! Throwing punches.
OUT! Those soft spongey gloves that mean you can't hurt anyone. What's the pint in that, eh!
OUT! The friendly referee breaking you apart and asking you to calm down a bit. And all that shaking hands bit.