Joined: 04 Nov 2003 Posts: 578 Location: 33.884906 | -84.053758
Posted: Tue Nov 18, 2003 10:55 am Post subject: Kumite: The Fighter's Edge
For a game that was so hyped back in it's day, it boggles me how little I can find on this unreleased title.
Kumite was a PS1 fighting game by Konami that went unfinished, I'm guessing, about halfway. It would have been the first fighter to offer 360 degree movement, and was supposedly a rather lengthy project. About all I know regarding it's cancellation, according to a small portion revealed in the letter's column of an old EGM that I'm sure to have somewhere in my collection, is that the project was ultimately canned for unknown "rather sensitive" reasons. As a matter of fact, EGM had a nice bit of coverage on the game's development, including character sketches (which honestly were kind of blah; there was a bald military guy with a berret which had a Native American feather attached to it) and a lot on the martial arts used for reference and motion capture.
Hell, EGM even published an envelope art piece that someone drew of one of the Kumite characters. Konami could have very well made a crap game and STILL got away with a profit after some of the hype it seemed to be getting in the beta stages alone.
Anyone happen to know what exactly happened to it or how far it DID go into development until the plug was pulled? I seem to recall hearing that a lot of the ideas may have leaked off into the fighting game that was released on N64 ("Fighter's History" I think was the name; I dunno, I never was big into N64) since it came out a year or two later, but I doubt there's anything that can confirm or deny that possibility.
I found this article in the December 2000 issue regarding Kumite:
"Kumite: Best Fighting Game Ever?" trumped the July 1996 cover of EGM. The article contained therein would easily whet the appetite of anyone interested in the kicking of asses. We reported that what the developer 47-Tek was working on was "not your typical punch-kick-block fighter," but an attempt to introduce real martial-arts fighting techniques to console gaming. Like the Tucker automobile, Kumite boasted several innovative features that have since become industry standard: full three-dimensionality, sophisticated environments, gradual damage to costumes and real-time bruising and cutting. ("It not only keeps track of how badly a fighter is injured," we reported, "it also reduces the fighter's strength in the damaged body part.") EGM also featured an interview with the game's producer, Derek Mitchell, who announced that 47-Tek was so committed to realism that they planned to eschew superfluous features like finishing moves, fatalities, desperation moves and even obtrusively attractive female characters. "We want our women to be sexy," said Mitchell, "but we want them to be fighters, too." 47-Tek's commitment to cultural authenticity was equally palpable. Mark Hirsch, founder and head of the company, had a degree in Eastern Studies, and he and producer Derek Mitchell had extensive first-hand experience with Asian fighting techniques. "There were several martial artists in the company, including ourselves," says Hirsch. 47-Tek's office was festooned with a great deal of martial arts weaponry, and they even built a dojo in the studio for training sessions. The on-site dojo also allowed them to demonstrate techniques directly to their animators and programmers. Our glowing coverage concluded that if 47-Tek was able to deliver the sort of experience they promised, "Kumite will be the new standard to which fighting games will be compared."
Kumite did not become the new standard to which other fighting games were compared, primarily because Kumite was axed. "It was completely designed, and the animation and fighting engine were coming together" before politics killed the project, says Hirsch. "We were too focused on the art of the product and not worried about marketing trends." 47-Tek went on to make some other innovative 3D fighting games, but like many other small development companies it eventually went under. "It was my company," says Hirsch, "I started it by myself, literally at my kitchen table, and it was sad to see it go. But it's a rough business out there, when you think of what it takes to run a company, and the small amount of money publishers and willing to give, and the even smaller piece you can get out of the back end..."
Of course, that still doesn't explain what the "politics" were, but oh well.
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