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Wednesday, November 01, 2017

The Ultimate Arena

The Ultimate Arena was released in 1995 by STeam and ranks as one of the last commercial Atari STe games. Choose to play as Sandy or Terry before proceeding to the first match against a series of dodgy villains, each of whom has their own skillset and special abilities. Some might say it is Atari Mortal Kombat and why not because we must now fight in various arenas against several lunatics whilst watched by a bloodthirsty crowd.

Each arena offers a different environment and I chuckled to myself when I first noticed the electrified fence - just one touch and you're crispy burnt toast!! Each warrior has their own trippy personality with a varying degree of speed, talent and special abilities. Watch out for a T800 which I thought was really well done and there is also an Indiana Jones wannabe who is an incredibly tough opponent. Interestingly, your energy bar isn't fully replenished at the start of the following round, thus increases longevity for determined gamers to figure out all the moves.

Whether you're Samantha Fox or a Terminator - this game is kick ass!! Love it!!

Showing off some cool moves there? Or is he just defying gravity? You decide.

No beat 'em up would be worth its salt without fast and responsive controls to kick seven bells outta your opponent. The Ultimate Arena has what it takes and I found it easy to learn the various moves along with their special abilities. Two-player mode is great and even allows us to play as any of the other characters (all except the final guy). A turbo mode is optional but I found that rather pointless so I cannot say I was impressed too much... Blood can also be turned on/off but I figured it best to have that on and enjoy some of that 16-Bit realism!

Like Domark's Pit Fighter, each character is digitised and they try their best to look macho whilst kicking seven bells outta you. It's quite remarkable the amount of detail squeezed into each pixel with smooth animations and the backgrounds are always interesting: like the Terminator watching you on a large screen and the crowd with their silly movements. However, I'm not so sure about the colour palette which is too brownish. Okay, I was tempted to let this slide but then I remembered other Atari ST games which make great use of colour, ala Black Lamp!

Kick people to death while they're already being electrocuted. It's all allowed!!

Or just pounce from a great height until they are splattered. All good fun!

As I've said before, I'm no beat 'em up expert but I am genuinely shocked how much fun I've had playing this. I half expected it to suck but it's shockingly fun and has probably replaced Double Dragon 3 as my favourite? It's obvious a lot of hard work and love went into the production and during the twilight years which is impressive. I also love how it doesn't take itself too seriously and the fact I can try my luck against a Terminator. Beating the hell out of digitised people is a great way to spend a couple of hours of anyone's time!! Play this.

Floppy disks can be found via Old Games Finder. (but stay clear of the early beta because it is rubbish!)

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