The year is 2097. You’re a beginning athlete in the world’s biggest sport. You try to calm yourself as the sounds of welders and the smell of burning steel and electricity fill the air. You’ve run the simulations a hundred times over, you know you’re ready. You have to be. It’s a cold reality, sitting and thinking that your life could be ruined from one wrong move. Your actions during a five minute window decide your future. Scary, isn’t it? These things can’t get to you, though. You have to be calm, and you must remember everything you learned from the training courses you took in Power, Agility, and Endurance. You’ve upgraded your Robot some, though it’s hard to do much when a single level one upgrade costs $760,000. Money like that isn’t exactly easy to come by, but you’ve managed to find it, somehow. You know you can succeed, you can win.
The bell rings, telling you to get into the pilot’s seat. Walking down the hallway, you’re greeted by your opponent. They give you a cold stare and say one thing: “You are inferior.” Any other day, you would have a witty comeback. Not today, though. With so much on the line, you can’t think, and their taunt even throws you off a little. Even their walk screams of a confidence that they will destroy you. You have to clear your mind, you have to win.
Now you’re sitting strapped into the piloting apparatus. Without moving a muscle, you can control your 90’ HAR (Human Assisted Robot), simply by thinking what you wish to do. You effortlessly move your HAR into the arena that has walls made of highly charged electric wire. You make a note to avoid them during the match. Staring at your opponent across the room, and then onto the field at your robot standing next to his, you turn your eyes to the count down clock. You now realize the weight of the sport’s name. The truth contained within that single statement drives your will to win. Two robots have entered the arena for battle. ONE MUST FALL
One Must Fall: 2097 is one of the most unique, feature rich in a class of its own fighter games you will ever play. What’s the catch? It’s 14 years old. OMF was released on June 15. 1994 and since then there’s never been a game like it. The basic story line you’ve already seen but incase you missed it (or skimmed it) OMF: 2097 is 90’ tall fighting robot game. But fighting games aren’t new, original, unique or in anything of its own. I mean hell the SNES/GENESIS that’s like half the games on them it seems. Well, let me list just a few of the things that make OMF everything I said it was.
First off we’ll start simple. Single player.
The single player experience in OMF: 2097 is not the strong point of the game, but it’s also not lacking. When you start you get to select a pilot AND a robot. Each pilot has their own strengths and weaknesses, some are faster then others, some are stronger then others. Some can take a beating for longer then others. After selecting your pilot you then select your HAR. This is a point I find particularly great when you think about it. Being able to select your Pilot separate from your HAR ensures that you get the play style you want, it doesn’t limit you to this robot is this fast and this strong. They change depending on who you choose to pilot it. In reality that means that there are 100 possible combinations, meaning 100 different ways to play. Though I’ll admit that the experience is not going to be a ton different, but it is still different, and it still means the team at Epic Megagames was striving to create something that wasn’t already on the market. Another feature you see here is arena danger. Each stage has it's own danger, from electrified walls, to jets flying in and firing on the arena you're not only fighting the opponent, but trying to avoid the arena from damaging you as well. This feature was also unique at time of release to One must Fall 2097.
The controls in the game are simple, a punch button, and a kick button. That’s all. But the true depth in this title is in the next mode. Tournament mode.
Tournament mode starts you out with a Jaguar HAR and you entered a tournament. In tournament mode your pilot starts out completely free of any stats and you have money to spend on upgrading either yourself or your robot depending on which you would like to do. Each of these things has their advantages and disadvantages. Upgrading yourself will carry through out your entire tournament career and you will always maintain those stats even if you trade robots. On the flip side upgrading your robot sees a more instant result, you notice when your leg speed is increased, you notice when your leg power is increased ect, the gratification is much more instant with robot upgrades then pilot upgrades. So how do you earn more money to but that arm power 3 upgrade that costs $5 million; trashing other robots on the national stage. But unlike in single player, or in other fighting games, winning is not all that matters, it is also how you play the game. Epic took the approach that, hey you’re fighting 1-1 with another robot, some parts are gunna fly, paint is getting scratched wires coming un-done and these things aren’t free. So after each victory you have a repair bill to pay out of your winnings (or after each loss you have a HUGE repair bill to pay for, somehow). So since these battles are also cut throat, best out one out of one, they kindly included a simulator that lets you practice fight any of the characters in your tournament bracket to see what the outcome might be, no repair bill to worry about. One other thing I find humorous is that after each match a woman commentates on the match, about how eh you were, how much you kick ass, or how long your going to be in the repair shop. While you’ll notice pretty fast she’s limited on what she can say, but it’s entreating none the less to get critiqued after each battle, or to hear someone say that you reduced your opponent to not much more then a punching bag. There are 4 different tournaments to enter into, each with differing entrance fees, and difficulty levels and number of contestants. You’ll be playing for a while to be the top dog.
One Must Fall: 2097 also included a 2 player mode playable using one keyboard. But WAY more important then that is the Network\modem game. Back in the day where you had to pay for multiplayer services or you could dial directly to your friends house, OMF: 2097 was (to my knowledge, correct me if I’m wrong) the first fighting game ever to have online multi-player, or even network multiplayer. This is absolutely groundbreaking advancements in the area of fighter games.
To sum up my wall of text, while OMF: 2097 is not a deep fighter like street fighter 2 where you spend years memorizing combos and special moves the ability to customize your robot and your pilot to change to your play style make up for it. The singleplayer/multiplayer has lots of choices as far as how you want to play. And the tournament mode lets you customize everything the precise way you want it and you have to prove that you can handle the heat by keeping out of harms way to rake in the dough. Not to mention this was one of if not the first ever fighting games to include online play, which would have been reason enough to play it. This game without a doubt showed that Epic had what it takes to become the Goliath that they are now.
Now that you’ve read my review, play the game. It’s available as abandonware and played best using dosbox, Tell you what I’ll even save you the trouble of googling it.
There! OMF: 2097 and dosbox and instructions on how to set it up in one download, now your only excuse is….nothing.