As far as generic fighting game titles go, Deadly Moves is one of the worst. It sounds more like a cheesy Steven Seagal film than a proper Street Fighter II rip-off. And if that wasn't enough, it's actually the third name Kaneko came up with. On the Super NES, Deadly Moves is known by the slightly less violent Power Moves. And both are based on the innocent sounding Power Athlete. Who knew that one game could have so many bad titles?
You play Joe. That's right, Joe. This isn't one of those fighting games where you choose between eight unique characters. On no, this is a role-playing game, of sorts. You play the role of Joe, who levels up his strength, speed and endurance by defeating bad guys inspired by Capcom's Street Fighter series. It's an interesting gimmick that ultimately works against it in the long run.
The characters are all over the board. Joe is your typical Ryu clone. Vagnad is a Russian wrestler who survived the Holocaust. Reayon is the Chun Li wannabe. Nick throws knives and break dances. Gaoluon is the kung fu expert. And of course there's a Tribal warrior with more than a passing resemblance to Blanka. You've seen it all before.
While it's easy to pick out the Street Fighter influence, Deadly Moves also borrows from SNK's Fatal Fury series. Here you can move in and out of the screen, almost like it's a 2D brawler and not a traditional one-on-one fighting game. This ends up being more of a hassle, as it introduces a jump button that never feels natural.
With a second person, Deadly Moves becomes the fighting game you're looking for. Suddenly you can select from a bunch of characters and go head-to-head with your friends. But all of that is locked away to the single player. By yourself, Deadly Moves is limited to one boring character. It's a bold decision that left me with a bad taste in my mouth.
No matter what you call it, Deadly Moves is a mediocre fighting game hidden behind some questionable design choices. When it comes right down to it, I don't mind if your game is a blatant rip-off; what I care about is good gameplay. Deadly Moves has all the right elements, but fails to capture of the magic of Street Fighter II.