Of all the 90's fighting games out there, this sure is one of them.
SNK, best known for its King of Fighters series, actually has a lot of other fighting games under its belt. You might not remember Art of Fighting, Samurai Shodown, The Last Blade, or Garou: Mark of the Wolves, but they existed. Maybe the strangest of these fighters, however, was Waku Waku 7, developed by Sunsoft, and released in 1996. While the gameplay is basically indistinguishable from other SNK fighters, Waku Waku 7 made a mark with its bizarre character roster. It’s now available on the European Switch eShop, and curiosity got the best of me.
This is not the seventh game in a long-running franchise; the “seven” refers to the number of playable characters. I’m not gonna lie to you and tell you this is an incredible fighting game that you’d be missing out on if you didn’t play it, but it’s certainly unique. The emulation is fine but, like other NeoGeo ports, the colors seem washed out, as if you’re playing on a very old arcade cabinet and the screen has faded a bit (a patch for this issue is reportedly on the way).
Characters have four basic attacks, a couple throws, and special attacks which are difficult to pull off consistently with the Joy-Con sticks. For some reason, I had a really hard time remembering which face buttons corresponded to the game’s button layout. The one truly unique feature of Waku Waku 7 seems to be “Harahara” attacks. Each character has one, and they are comparable to Super Moves in other fighters. They are relatively easy to pull off, but these attacks take several seconds to activate, during which time the character is wide open to attack. Successfully pulling off a Harahara attack basically guarantees you victory in the round if it connects—but it will not connect very often.
Waku Waku 7 is all about the charm. The seven characters are diverse and strange. You’ve got your punk guy (Rai), your bunny girl (Arina), your standard mech-piloted-by-tiny-people (Politank-Z), your adorable cat monster and his child companion (Mauru & Mugi), your household-item-flinging maid (Tesse), your sword guy (Slash), and your muscleman (Dandy-J). The best part of Waku Waku 7 is watching the animation, especially Politank and Mauru. The Internet tells me that these characters are supposed to be parodies of characters from other fighting games but I’m not seeing it. There’s also a mid-boss and a final boss.
I enjoyed tinkering with the game’s overlay (press +) in which you can tweak a lot of settings, read the manual, create a save state, etc.
Waku Waku 7 doesn’t really stand out from the crowd in my mind, but the only other game with anywhere near as strange a character roster is probably Darkstalkers, so fighting game or SNK aficionados will probably get a kick of this oddball. For everyone else, though, there are better fighting games out there.