Remembering The PC's Best Fighting Game

I'm going on a flight to Japan over the weekend, and as a result I'll be needing something to occupy me should the in-air entertainment be a bore. Fortunately, there's been one game happily residing on my laptop ever since I purchased it, and that one game is what I'm paying tribute to.

This story originally appeared in August 2015.

It's criminal that One Must Fall: 2097 didn't get a sequel with the same level of polish and craftsmanship of the original. Even today, while certainly not perfect by any means, OMF 2097 remains one of the most interesting fighting games ever produced.

It's even more impressive when you compare OMF 2097 to the quality of other fighters released on the PC around the same time. I remember having fun with Sango Fighter -- a bit of a diamond in the rough -- but others, such as FX Fighter, Savage Warriors, Rise of the Robots, Battle Beast, even the PC ports of Virtua Fighter and Mortal Kombat (controversial, I know), just weren't as fulfilling.

One Must Fall: 2097 was published by Epic in 1994 and was the creation of Diversions Entertainment, who only ever published OMF 2097 and One Must Fall: Battlegrounds, a 3D follow-up in 2003.

The entire premise revolves around robots and the pilots that control them, with each pilot having different power, agility and endurance values impacting on the capacity of the robot. It's the tournament mode where the game really shines though, since you can earn money to upgrade your personal stats, as well as the individual attributes of the robot (like leg power, punch speed, stun resistance, armour, etc).

You've probably also figured it out, but the OMF 2097 theme song is killer. It's one of the best theme songs for a game still, although my preference for electronica is undoubtedly playing a part there.

There are 11 robots and 10 pilots, although you'll encounter a far wider range of enemy pilots in the tournament mode. Modders have also created their own custom tournaments, allowing for a much more thorough challenge than the four the game originally shipped with.

OMF 2097 was a single-player only affair at launch, but it was later patched to include multiplayer. The multiplayer isn't playable in the browser version available on the Internet Archive and it's fiddly to get working today (although I suppose you could make something happen with Hamachi or a similar service).

I personally always liked Jaguar, although that's largely because I could remember its Scrap and Destruction moves (the equivalent of fatalities, although in tournament mode your score translated into cash you could use for upgrades). I found Nova and Pyros to be boring affairs -- although destroying everyone with repeated low punches never gets old with the metallic "dong" sound that follows -- although I know Electra and Chronos are pretty versatile.

The game has been marked as freeware since 1999 and you can read this immense FAQ with every scrap of information you could ever want to know.

Fans have also been working on an open source remake with improved networking and better support for controllers (although you can get DS4 and Xbox One controllers to work in DOSBox). The last unofficial release was in early July and you can download the Windows and Linux versions from the website.

There's even a MUGEN remake of OMF 2097, although for my money you really can't go past the original.

What are your memories of OMF 2097 -- and what were some of your favourite fighting games on PC around?


Comments

    My gawd I love this game. How could I forget its existence.

    This game was brilliant, I was a fan of the Thorn but it was hard to go past Jaguar for reach and agility. Of course endgame in your career a maxed out Nova just wrecked shop. Pretty much decked anything in a few hits.

      I usually ended up in a Shadow because throwing shadows ceaselessly at your opponent sitting next to you was an endless source of amusement until they worked out damaging the shadows damaged you.

        Didn't Shadow also have one of those moves where they could kick out one side of the screen and hit the opponent from behind as well? It was a bastard.

        Last edited 27/08/15 6:42 pm

          I have a feeling that was chronos, and I had a lot of fun using that against the bots :)

          along with shadow spamming with shadow,
          flipping them into the sides of the electric arena with jaguar,
          constant head stomping and wall bouncing with katana,
          and endlessly swooping them with gargoyle.

          fun times :D

      So many hours spent playing this as a teen! Loved this game so much!

    The wave of nostalgia that just hit me as a result of this article is immense.
    Loved this game.

    I am unfamiliar with this, but it instantly made me think of Zero Divide.

      Picked up Zero Divide: The Final Conflict for the Saturn a few months ago. Was not disappointed at all :)

      Used to LOVE OMF 2097. Although, admittedly, I had it parked on the title screen listening to the theme tune as often as I'd actually spend playing the game :)

      Can't remember how many mix tapes of game music I made as a kid - this would always be the first track. The day I figured out I could 'line-in' to my stereo, and NOT use my microphone parked in front of my speakers, was one of the greatest days of my life :)

    omg omg omg.. I used to play the hell out of this.

    I had completely forgotten about this game, but it reminded me of another great game I haven't played in an eternity. @alexwalker, do you remember Ultrabots?

      Heard of it, but never got to play it myself. Wonder if it's floating around somewhere.

    My god, a friend and I used to absolutely love this game when I was in primary school. I used to play it with him and we used to talk about it at length during lunchtimes. I can still remember getting to those fire and ice hidden bosses, or being able to play as Nova. I was pro at Jaguar and Shadow.

    Didn't play much of this (only a demo I think).

    My go-to fighting game on PC back then was Body Blows!

      Body Blows and OMF, wow, that really takes me back.

    Played the hell out of this with my mates. Great game. I loved the environment hazards.

    OMF Battlegrounds was terrible. Slow, clunky, lacking any entertainment value.

    As for other fighting games, I only had a C64, so if friends came to my place it was good old Barbarian. Now that was a great game. Lop your opponent's head off and watch the imp kick it like a soccer ball.

    @alexwalker Is Tribute Thursday going to be a semi regular article? I love me some nostalgia :-)

      Yep! I said, "Hey I want to do this" and the powers that be said "sure".

      So it's a regular thing from now on.

        I guess the name "Remember This" was already taken :P

    LOVED this game. I got so good at this. The journey to get the best bot at the end was so enjoyable!

    I was thinking about this game the other day but totally forgot the name haha. Remember hours on the p3 500 fighting against my brother and we'd have tournaments with our friends.
    Classic

    They won a "create a character" competition for the sequel, which my character, "Judgement" won. Unfortunately they never mailed out the prize, a copy of the game, so I never go to play it. :(

    This is one of my top favourite games of all time.

    Shredder represent!

    I absolutely love this game.

    Played the hell out of it on my Dad's 486 growing up. I agree on Nova being boring - I likened it back then to playing as Goro in MK - fun for the novelty after fighting him as a boss character, but not that interesting for real play.

    Jaguar was a stellar example of starter gear being awesome enough with in game upgrades to carry you all the way through to the endgame. Devs take note!

    Shit I could do this all day. Time to update my ringtone haha

      Yeah played the hell out of this on our 486 too. early 90's.

      No idea how many times I would replay tournament with different bots.

      I still remember upping the Jag's kick speed and just being this whirlwind kicking machine then the old face laser bolt to finish them off.. look soo cool like you were headbutting them to death!

      Last edited 28/08/15 4:43 pm

    Oh shiiiit, I remember this! For the longest time, my only access to this was on one of those shareware demo packs, which had one arena, one robot, and three enemy pilots. I don't even know how many hundreds of hours I invested perfecting my techniques with that robot and learning the AI's moves.

    Last edited 28/08/15 12:26 am

      This might even be the first game I bought with my own money, which at the time actually involved me sending a money order to Epic Megagames in the US and waiting for them to send the full game out to me. I remember being swayed by their FAQ and the specific section compelling me to pay them money. Something about them having a Ferrari for every day of the week. I remember that nearly as distinctly as the back story for the game and the challenge to make a game that didn't have "blood" or "kill" in the title.

    Battle Beast was great! So was OMF.. oh the good old days.

    Loved OMF, such a great fighter for its time.

    Although most of my childhood PC gaming was Stunts, and wasting so much time in the track creator!

    Hell yeah OMF. I like to think that Rising Thunder is a halfway spiritual successor.

    YES YES YES YES YES

    Man I loved this game, downloaded all of the moves after a year or two of play and printed them out on a dot matrix printer at school. I was such a boss with all the fatalities.

    Had to go here to reminisce about classes, pretty sure Jaguar and Pyros were my jams
    http://www.omf2097.com/wiki/doku.php?id=har

    One of my top all time favorite fighters next to Street Fighter 2. I lost track of how many times i finished this game, where else could you fight some of the characters from Jazz Jackrabbit as secret characters?

    Still one of the best fighting games around. Dem upgrades, yo.

    I was obsessed with this game as a kid, and I only had the demo! Took a few more years to end up with a copy of the full game. One of the best fighters I ever played. I remember it was chock full of secrets too. A friend of mine who was equally obsessed enlightened me to the destruction moves you could do, as well as the existence of a number of hidden characters like Fire and Ice which just blew my mind. The lore and characters influenced so much of my young mind at the time.

    There was so much hidden depth too, like being able to do more powerful versions of the standard moves with a slightly different combo.

    Also the music was amazing.

    I was a Shadow player through and through.

      Reading this comment has made me want to listen to the remastered intro music again for the rest of the day. Today will be a good day.

    *LOOKS AROUND*

    Anybody?

    Anybody?

    FINE.

    *CLEARS THROAT*

    ....

    ....

    .........

    JAPAN!!!
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    .
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    (cos Street Fighter 2)

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