Monday, January 9, 2012

Bio-Art: Fossil Fighters.

Is that the most badass way to start a week of entries or what?

For the past week or so, I've been hooked on the sequel to the above game: Fossil Fighters Champions. I was a total addict for the first Fossil Fighters, too. In a nutshell, the whole premise of the game is digging up fossils, reviving superpowered dinosaurs, and then pitting them against each other in death matches. It's cracktastic.

If you are familiar with Japanese 'mon' series, two should immediately come to mind: Pokemon and Dinosaur King. Yes, this is another one of those infamous monster fighting games from Japan. If one fused the basic idea of Dinosaur King with the bright colors of Pokemon, one would get something like Fossil Fighters...but not quite.

If Tefflaceras is indeed a thing, I'm sure it didn't have wings like that. Also, Ancient Fairy Dragon just got competition.

Fossil Fighters blows both Pokemon and Dinosaur King out of the water. The stories for both games, although a bit predictable in places, are amazingly dark for kids' games (one involves David Icke's reptoids; another, necromancy)  and have nice little twists that I never saw coming. The element system is simple, the battle mechanics strategic (beware of rotating moves!), and the attacks, while a mite unrealistic (although dinosaurs just snapping at each other WOULD get old after a while) are pretty darn cool. The game was popular enough to spawn a sequel, Super Fossil Fighters/Fossil Fighters Champions, which featured a few new mechanics and online play.

The Vivosaur (we have to be fair: plesiosaurs, pterosaurs, and ancient mammals aren't dinosaurs) designs were among the best little Easter eggs of the game for me. The designs often have to do with the meaning of the dinosaur's name, which, as a linguist, is a real treat. For example, "Krona," a giant mosasaur, has Roman numerals on its body like a clock (think "chronological," "chronic," etc.). Coatlus, based off of Quetzalcoatlus and my favorite Vivosaur in the first game, is modeled after its namesake feathered serpent deity. Krypto, who only appears in FFC/Super, is modeled after Anubis, the Egyptian god of mummification (i.e. crypts). I could go on with this. There are a lot of in-jokes being ignored.

Crysosaurus has ice on it in this game? Noooo...really?

I cannot think of a better way for kids (and anyone else) to learn about ancient fauna. Aside from dinosaurs, the original Fossil Fighters also had prehistoric mammals like Andarch (Andrewsarchus) and the rather bizarre Jara (a tapejarid pterosaur). Fossil Fighters Champions has ventured into invertebrates, fish, and synapsids. There are several times I have gone "that's a thing?" at something in Fossil Fighters, only to go online and find out that, yes, things like slingshot deer actually existed. The series overall contains 90% real paleos and 10% "fun" creatures, such as chickens and aliens. Hardcore paleontologists will be impressed with you after playing this game - just don't ask if T.rex ever had a Harley-ish paintjob. The answer is no.

So, is it worth giving a try? If you've ever enjoyed Pokemon and/or loved dinosaurs, you betcha. The storylines are more carefully thought-out than anything Pokemon has ever concocted. Some of the dinosaurs are really creative; you'll laugh when you see the ankh on the Ankylosaurus. Effort and heart went into these games, and if they improve your hand-eye coordination and paleo knowledge, so much the better. The graphics are much better in FFC/Super, especially in the cut scenes, but there are some elements of the first game that I still love. If Pokemon falls to the ancient behemoths of Fossil Fighters, all I'll have to say is "it's about damn time." This is a must-see for any fan of video games with a love of prehistoric creatures.

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