The Curious Case of The Eye of Typhoon
After revivifying arcade landscapes in 1992, Street Fighter II and its progeny provided a half-decade-long answer to one of the most venerated, necessary, and insidious of video game industry questions: what’s safe to invest in?” Companies rightly identified the potential for a growth market in the fighting game trend, and the innovators and imitators rained down from the heavens. Everybody but anybody that made arcade games started cloning Street Fighter. But by the second half of the decade, the harbingers of oversaturation were just starting to show. Capcom released three different arcade Street Fighter installments in 1996 (four if you count Super Puzzle Fighter Ii Turbo, which you should because it’s awesome). SNK released at least eight Neo geo fighters in 1996.
People were still buying these games and more besides on their new Saturns and PlayStations, but only a year later, Street Fighter III would faceplant. 1996 was a year of tension for fighting game creators: on one hand, a hungry market was still there on the arcade front, and home ports on new hardware were lifting the genre’s popularity to stratospheric heights; on the other, the competition was more fierce than ever, and it was now very easy to get lost in the shuffle.
Into the midst of this world was born The Eye of Typhoon, a fighting game that deserved a kinder fate, and is finally getting a shot at its just desserts here in America.
Video game discourse is checkered with the use of the “lost classic” trope (and I’m as guilty as anybody on that count). As games criticism and preservation have begun to grow beyond our first fumbling, nascent efforts, I still remember the proto-internet days, when imports like Moon Crystal or Gimmick were considered semi-mythological. With groups like the Video Game History Foundation consistently re-discovering truly lost, unpublished games, is it really proper to discuss a published game as an obscure hidden gem?
I’m gonna go with yes. Context matters, and unless you were fortunate enough to be living in or visiting South Korea during a very rare window in the 90s AND you were one of the dozens of us who are really into the 3DO, there’s a very good chance you missed The Eye of Typhoon. And while you’ve gone your whole life thus far without playing it, turns out you really did miss something. The Eye of Typhoon is really, really fun.
Despite advertising claims that “we’ve got over 200 woody-inducing titles to play,” the 3DO never captured the collective imagination of the game-playing public. The high price point, questionable advertising, crappy controllers, stiff competition, and the tendency of the system’s best games to get lost in the jumble of FMV shovelware combined to doom the little engine that could. It’s a bit of a shame, as some really good stuff got lost in the shuffle: Return Fire alone justifies the existence of 3DO. Star Control 2 was bodacious. And 3DO also featured a surprisingly-capable port of Super Street Fighter II Turbo.
But the winners were few and far between, and that makes it doubly a shame that most of the world never got The Eye of Typhoon. It’s an accessible, spunky, no-frills fighter that lands a cut above many of its contemporaries. There’s nothing soul-shaking about The Eye of Typhoon’s design innovations… it’s just a super-solid, very fluid, and aesthetically-pleasing fighter. It feels heartful, it’s quickly comprehensible, and I think we’ve forgotten how rare that really is.
The twelve warrior roster follows the Street Fighter II template of challengers from around the world: Hoya, Roy, and all the rest, destined to duke it out in appropriately exotic, festive locales. They’ll meet in single or team matches to determine whose martial arts prowess reigns supreme. There might be more nuance to it, but who cares? It’s time to fight.
Matches are very quick. The fighters are all pretty nimble and very responsive. Each character has just enough moves to keep things really interesting, but not so many as to feel overwhelming. There’s none of the baggage of overcomplexity that holds down Primal Rage, nor any focus on gratuity or attitude. The scroll system for super-type moves is easy to get your head around. I’m not a fighting game guy so I can’t assess its pro-level competitive merits, and that’s fine since I’m not anticipating a sudden EVO community fascination with a quarter-century-old 3DO game. It’s fun and you haven’t played it, and the convergence of these two factors is a great reason to try a new video game.
Get it today!
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