Hyper-adrenal combatants in full-body armour, battling night and day in back-alley rings - only such young gurba warriors have earned the right to be called VIPERS...
Now in Armstone City, the mayor has formally announced a fighting tournament on a grand scale, with the final bout to be held atop the staggering City Tower in the centre of town.
With City Tower as their ultimate goal, eight young VIPERS start down the path to victory, a path which only one will see the end...
Fighting Vipers features a similar style of gameplay to Sega AM2's more renowned Virtua Fighter series, specifically Virtua Fighter 2, using a simply Guard, Punch and Kick attack buttons with a focus on combo moves (the Saturn version using its three extra buttons for three smaller combos).
The game is set apart with two unique features. Most notably, each of the 9 characters featured in the game sports armor of some kind or another, this armor can be broken off by opponents leaving characters much more vulnerable and able to take much more damage, a human shaped meter in the top corners of the screen monitors the damage to your armor. Secondly walls surround each arena, caging the combatants in, allowing for attacks in conjunction with them (bouncing off etc), if the correct combination is hit at the round's finale, characters can punch their opponent straight through the walls.
Grace is a 19 year old African-American born in Armstone City whose armor is themed after the protective gear for In-Line Skating, including the skates themselves. Grace is making her living as a fashion model, though she once dreamed of becoming a professional figure skater, though her lover and coach betrayed her, leaving her disillusioned.
Despite only being a 17 year old High School Student from Nishino Machi, Bahn is a powerful and imposing fighter in a long coat and hat, who has come overseas to find and fight his father, whom he has never met and abandoned him and his mother when they were small, he has declared himself 'Gengis Bahn III'.
The narcissistic lead singer and guitarist for a hair metal band called 'Death Crunch' with KISS-styled armour (pretty much looking like Ace Frehley's outfit) and carrying a red Gibson Flying-V electric guitar, Raxel is the son of an Armstone City councilman, a drop out who left home after a fight with said father, Raxel has simply entered the tournament to heighten his own profile and become further famous.
Note: Raxel's name is strikingly similar to Guns N' Roses' frontman Axl Rose. There is no official confirmation however that he is in any way based on him, as he doesn't really look like Rose, but more like ex-Skid Row singer Sebastian Bach or Poison's vocalist Bret Michaels.
A 16 year old pretty boy rebelling against a strict kabuki actor's household, Tokio is a former leader of a street gang called 'Black Thunder' but left after feeling responsible for another gangmember's death. He has entered the tournament for a challenge and for thrills.
A mysterious fat oriental-looking man about whom nothing is known, other than his birthday (3rd of March) and an obsession with the number 3, hence the name for which he goes (san in the Japanese for "three"). Sanman drives a large customised scooter.
A butch and muscled 18 year old part-time construction worker, Jane trained her whole life to join the Navy, but did not make it past training. She was discharged after repeatedly losing control of herself during fights and injuring fellow seamen. Jane now wants to test just how tough she is, hence entering the Fighting Vipers tournament.
A petite 16 year old Fashion Student with a pleasant nature, Candy designed her trademark plastic fairy suit herself, and has entered the tournament to promote her original fashion line. Candy became, by far, the most popular of the characters, and remains so, particularly in Japan.
A 14 year old stereotypical skateboarder, Picky's armour is styled after protective gear for skateboarders, he carries his skateboard on his back, and hits opponents with it. Picky began skateboarding to impress his first love, but later on he left her for Candy.
The ninth character, not selectable, and unlockable in the Sega Saturn port, Mahler is a 20 year old mystery with a grudge against the Mayor of Armstone City [who has organised the tournament] wearing poisonous armour resembling a snake. He isn't officially registered as a member of the tournament.
B.M. is boss of the game and is a powered up version of Mahler.
Background Character on Sanman stage. He playable in the Sega Saturn port by playing 50 games. 2 Player character is Pandachan.
Pepsiman is the mascot for Pepsi and Pepsi related products in Japan. He rescues those in need of thirst by delivering Pepsi, and often gets inflicted with pain from unforeseen consequences. He is only available in the Japanese version of the Sega Saturn version. To face him, you start the game in Arcade mode, and allow the CPU to attack you without fighting back. Before your HP reaches 0, the game will issue a "New Challenger" to which the game will return to the character select screen and slowly scroll to Pepsiman's position, while playing his theme song. Defeating Pepsiman allows you to play as him through the regular game. A new Option menu item will appear upon unlocking the character that allows you to revert the secret, causing the player to have to unlock him again.
The game also features the Pepsi logo in the background and on certain characters (such as Picky's skateboard).
Fighting Vipers was envisoned as a 3D fighting game sharing the core technology to Virtua Fighter, but tailored for a different (and likely younger) audience with its use of Western theming. It was decided early on that the game was to portray intense and more exaggerated combat than Virtua Fighter, but rather than go down the violent route of Mortal Kombat, the characters would wear armour which would fall off as the fight went on.
The Sega Saturn version was recalled a few weeks after its Japanese launch due to a bug which could potentially wipe all game saves. Later releases of the game (including Western versions) were fixed.
Honey (or Candy as she became known) presented a problem for US retailers, as one of the rewards for finishing the game as her is a render of the character in a suggestive pose. Given that the character is only 16 years of age, Sega of America took steps to censor the more risqué content from the game, also removing her schoolgirl outfit due to fears retailers would not stock the title. The PAL version remains uncensored.
Fighting Vipers continues the steady progression of first-party Sega Saturn fighting games become more like their arcade counterparts, this time using version 2.1 of the Sega Graphics Library. By rendering the the 3D cage (or walls) surrounding the playfield, it was one of the first games of its type to technically render 3D backgrounds (although these walls are promptly removed when showing the character's finishing pose).
The Saturn Fighting Vipers took roughly eight months to produce, with roughly half of the development time used to perfect the rendering system. Much of the core engine was carried over from the Saturn Virtua Fighter 2, though collision detection routines were re-worked.
The high resolution of Virtua Fighter 2 was dropped in favour of mimicking the arcade version's lighting system (the Saturn version of Virtua Fighter 2 has no lighting, though most of the game takes place in direct sunlight anyway). This was not always the case, however - early screenshots of Fighting Vipers prior to the '96 Tokyo Toy Show opted for a similar look to Virtua Fighter 2. Also in play is gouraud shading, absent in the arcade version but possible on the Saturn due to the lower number of polygons.
The Saturn Fighting Vipers offers versus, playback and training modes. Players can save their matches and play them again in playback Mode, while in training mode the player is talked though the moves of each character one-by-one. The Saturn version also includes a full motion video introduction, similar to its port of Virtua Fighter 2.
As with all Sega's Model 2-to-Saturn fighting game ports, backgrounds once rendered as (simple) 3D objects in the arcade are replaced with large, 2D backdrops on the Saturn. While every stage takes a hit, Tokio's is perhaps the most notable, as it is missing the plane taking off on the runway the characters are fighting on. That being said, unlike Virtua Fighter 2, the floor surrounding the arena is modelled in 3D, reducing some of the problems caused by these clashing perspectives.
In Japan Fighting Vipers is sponsored by Pepsi Cola and has several billboards, Picky's skateboard (and playable Pepsiman) advertising the product. All of this content was removed from international releases.