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Pit-Fighter: What Did Critics Say Back in 1991?
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on June 27, 2014   |   Episode 61 (Show Archive)  


Pit-Fighter (Genesis)
Ever wonder what Electronic Gaming Monthly, GamePro and other popular magazines thought of your favorite 8-, 16- and 32-bit games? Now you can find out, thanks to Review Crew! This is the only show on the internet that is willing to go back in time to find out what old school critics thought of retro games at the time. Did they pan your favorite game? Did they love something terrible? Find out every week as Defunct Games presents Review Crew!

Street Fighter II may have popularized one-on-one fighting games, but Pit-Fighter took it one step further with a three-person melee. It featured a kick boxer, a wrestler and martial arts expert, all fighting for cash prizes in an underground fight club. It's an interesting concept, but were critics interested in this Sega Genesis conversion? We flipped through old issues of GamePro, Mega Play, Sega Force and Computer + Video Games for the answers.

(NOTE: Although we occasionally cut for length, no other edits are made to the review. Defunct Games does not change any of the wording, grammar or punctuation use. Also keep in mind that our score is the average of all critics at the time, not just the sample that is reprinted on this page. If you still have more questions, I recommend you check out the Review Crew FAQ, where we address the review guidelines, converting scores, magazine covers and more.)

[ Company: Tengen | Console: Genesis ]

GAMEPRO (December 1991)
5 out of 5

"Pit-Fighter uses digitization to reproduce sound and graphics that are as awesome as those in the arcade version. In fact, we've never heard as much digitized sound from a Genesis game before, and every character (right down to the cheering crowd) sports moves and poses that are loaded with realism. If you want outrageous two-player, simultaneous action, step into the pit with Pit-Fighter." -Doctor Dave

95% out of 100%

"Playing Pitfighter is pure pan-their-heads-in pleasure. Right from the title screen you get the feeling that everyone is out to get you; talk about atmosphere, even the crowd wants your blood. To sum up, a brilliant combat game that takes the action out of the 'glam' ninja type missions and into the heart of every fighter's worst nightmare. Excellent graphics and so much game play it's scary. The coin-op was good; this is better." -Les "pitbull" Ellis

MEGA PLAY (January 1992)
9 out of 10

"Sorry gang, but I loved this game! Pit Fighter on the Genesis is better than the coin-op! The controls are right on the money, unlike the coin-op, and the graphics animate much smoother!" -Dave

90% out of 100%

"TOTALLY STUDLY! Who knows what this means? Who cares? There's none of our Marquis of Queenbury rules here! The cheering and jeering crowd certainly add to the enjoyment of the game. They seem to have a mind of their own and join in by throwing the fighters back into the ring -- bloodthirsty lot! This game is a lot of fun even if you consider yourself to be a pacifist, it'll have you showing 'Got you! You nasty critter!' in no time." -Claire

82% out of 100%

"This conversion retains the digitized graphics, but gone is the impressive scaling. Believe it or not, this actually makes it easier to see what's going on and this makes it a lot cleaner-looking than the arcade game. It does however show up just how limited the original was and as a result, the game is quite boring in one player mode. A reasonable beat 'em up, but Streetfighter it ain't." -Frank O'Connor

81% out of 100%

"Pit-Fighter is not one of those games which oozes instant appeal because it looks so dull. The sprites aren't too bad, but they're poorly animated and the scrolling is jerky. The action itself is bland to start with and you might start to wonder what possessed you to have to go in the first place but all of this changes as soon as you get to grips with the special moves of each fighter. A bit disappointing considering the quality of the coin-op, but the action's good enough to give beat 'em up fans their jollies." -Paul

81% out of 100%

"Take control of a kick boxer, a wrestler or kung-fu expert and enter the pit to fight all manner of 'orrible street hoodlums. The graphics are a bit poor in places, but this conversion successfully captures the spirit of the coin-op and should appeal greatly to beat 'em up fans."

MEAN MACHINES (The Essential Sega Guide)
70% out of 100%

"The coin-op featured fancy sprite-scaling and amazing animation, but these are both absent from this conversion. However, The [sic] sprites are quite detailed and their actions are accompanied by lots of speech (albeit of mediocre quality) and painful-sounding effects, but the movement is unconvincing. Pitfighter is okay, but check out the newer beat 'em ups, like Mortal Kombat and Streetfighter II which are miles better." -Rich

MEGA PLAY (January 1992)
6 out of 10

"I'm not terribly impressed with this translation. The thing I don't like is that fighting games get repetitive easily (especially when they don't scroll). Nice animation though." -Bart
REVIEW CREW AVERAGE: 79% - Of all the fighting games released in the early 1990s, Pit-Fighter has held up the worst. Between the shallow gameplay and muddy visuals, there's a reason why you rarely hear calls for a Pit-Fighter reboot. But the critics from 23 years ago disagreed, calling this Tengen port even better than the coin-op.

Sega Pro called it "pan-their-heads-in pleasure," while Sega Force said the game was "TOTALLY STUDLY!" GamePro went one step further and awarded this awkward fighter a perfect 5 out of 5. On the other hand, plenty of magazines enjoyed Pit-Fighter, but preferred the depth found in Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat.

Mega Play's Bart was the lone objector, noting that he wasn't impressed with the translation. He called the game repetitive and gave it a 6 out of 10. I suspect people would agree more with Bart's take over that of GamePro, but we'll never know for sure. What I can tell you is that the average score is 79%, which is higher than many would expect.

SPELLING LESSON: Yet again, none of the magazines can agree on spelling. Mega Play says the name is "Pit Fighter," without a hyphen. MegaTech added the hyphen, leading to "Pit-Fighter." And then there's Mean Machines, who seems to think it's spelled "Pitfighter." So who's right? According to the game's advertising, the proper spelling is "Pit-Fighter," with the hyphen.

ON MONDAY'S EPISODE: Next Monday brings a week of Batman games, starting with one of my favorite Nintendo Entertainment System titles. Did Electronic Gaming Monthly, GamePro and other classic magazines love Batman as much as I did? Find out next week on another exciting episode of Review Crew. Make sure and check out the Review Crew archive for more old school reviews, and don't forget to tweet me @DefunctGames to let me know what games you want to see next!



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