Friday, May 16, 2014

Fighting Layer, return of the dragon, part 6...

When the series first started I wrote about how influential the characters and plot to Enter the Dragon had on the development of Street Fighter II. The crime lord Han in the Bruce Lee film had a hand in inspiring the military general Vega in Street Fighter II.


Han's island fortress was even the inspiration for the original design of Shadowlaw. It was where the entire Street Fighter II tournament was supposed to take place.


Before they were scattered through every corner of the globe all of the stages in Street Fighter II had been set in a singular location.


One of the levels proposed for Street Fighter II one was supposed to take place on top of a speeding train. In the distance there was a shot of the castle that the host resided in. The previous blog showed that the original boss characters for SFII looked like medieval knights. It could have been possible that the final battle took place inside of this castle. It wouldn't be the first time that a fighting game stage was inside of a castle, let alone a boss level. It would however be the first time that players could see themselves speeding towards the final destination a few levels prior.

Almost a decade later Akira Nishitani revisited the plans for Street Fighter II and created a new title that made use of ideas that were left behind. The entire Fighting Layer tournament took place on an island, Zausu Island to be precise. The final level was set in the castle at the center of the island. The island looked eerie and uninviting. Sharp jagged rocks framed the island that was trapped in perpetual twilight. From a distance it appeared supernatural, like a location from a horror film.


The host of the Fighting Layer tournament owned the island and everything in it. He was as eerie and mysterious as the location itself. Vold Ignitio dressed like an aristocrat although there was something more menacing underneath his costume. Again we would have to return to Han to find the inspiration for this type of character. Han after all made a castle his home and seemed to live an opulent lifestyle. It was all a clever facade to help keep authorities from taking too close of a look at his estate.

Vold was very much a retelling of Vega from SFII. Both characters did not dress like traditional martial arts masters. Vega had a modern militaristic uniform whereas Vold had a costume more like a royal military outfit. They each had an assortment of awe-inspiring moves that could tear through opponents with ease. They could even defy gravity and finish opponents with a few powerful strikes.

Despite his costume Vold acted much more savage than any other character in Street Fighter history, with the exception of Blanka. He would slash at opponents with his long fingernails and even pounce and maul his opponents like the Tiger which he kept under his castle. He was a very arrogant villain, taunting his opponent with his outlandish stances.


The setting of the Fighting Layer tournament was probably the most interesting part of the game itself. Each stage had personality. Each level told a story and the collective could be considered the template for great stage designs. The next blog will look at Zausu Island in more detail.

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