1997’s Fight’n’Joke gets re-release with online multiplayer and rollback netcode

Mental Drink has today released a new version of 1997’s MS-DOS title Fight’n’Joke, which doesn’t have any relation with 2017’s Fight’n Rage (that I know of). This re-release is pretty lavish, featuring rollback netcode and online multiplayer. That’s swinging for the fences.

If you hadn’t heard of Fight’n’Joke, neither had I. It’s hard to overstate the massive impact that 1991’s Street Fighter II had on the game industry, so the ‘90s were packed to the rafters with fighting games looking to get in on that sweet, sweet success. This also resulted in a few parody games like Clay Fighter and Brutal: Paws of Fury. DOS wasn’t exactly the most happening place for fighting games, however. If you wanted to be taken seriously, you generally needed an arcade release.

What really caught my attention with this Fight’n’Joke re-release was the sincerity behind it. About five people worked on the original release, but despite that, it looks pretty good for a late DOS title and it features most of what you’d expect from a fighting game. Sure, it’s two-button (plus a charge button), but so were a lot of the NeoGeo Pocket fighting games like SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium. I’m not trying to say it’s great, it just punches above its weight class.

There are 10 characters plus four that are unlockable and 11 stages. You can re-map the controls, so it works easily with an arcade stick. The name alone sets it up like it’s supposed to be funny, but it’s mostly just cartoonish like a newspaper comic strip. The press release actually describes it as “semi-humorous,” which would be about right.

Mental Drink still features the same brothers who were behind Nasty Brothers Software, the creators of Fight’n’Joke. The re-release ports the game to a new engine that runs natively on modern operating systems. Along with online multiplayer, that’s not an easy job. It really speaks to how much affection they have for the little title. It was previously ported to Switch and Xbox One, but that version didn’t have online multiplayer. They’re planning to patch the console versions to bring them to parity with the PC version.

Fight’n’Joke is available now on PC. Although it’s listed as Early Access, the core game is complete. Mental Drink is just looking for feedback on the online performance.

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