2D Fighter Maker 2002 — The Lost World (Part 2)

This article is part of my ongoing “Indie Fighting Game Thursday” review/retrospective series, now on supercombo.gg!  This week, we discuss about the legacy of the 2D Fighter Maker 2002 engine, which, despite being so old it could drive a car in several states around the world, is still being actively used by developers all around the world. In this second part of our feature, we interview the developers behind Ganbatte Karate and Inaho Twon Dynamite Bomb!

Raise the curtain! The second half begins!

Welcome back to Indie Fighting Game Thursday, with the second part of my double feature about the living legacy of 2D Fighter Maker 2002! Last week, we talked with Border Violation Taisei, the studio behind Angels of Battle v1.5, with an in-depth interview. I have asked similar questions to two developers who are still using 2DFM02 for developing their games — Ulissan Game Dev and らぐはちさん:南東ライトグリーン8(Light Green Eight)!

Now, brace yourself, because it’s time to dive deep into Brazil and back to Japan to see how this old engine does still have a spot in the recent game development history!

Ulissan Game Dev — Ganbatte Karate

[Disclaimer: As Ulissan isn’t an English native speaker, I have edited the language in his answers to make it clearer for the readers, without altering the intended meaning.]

Ryu vs Jin Kazama — the dream match can begin!

Q: When did the “Ganbatte Karate” project start and why did you go for 2DFM02 instead of e.g. M.U.G.E.N.? How did the project came to be?

Interesting question. I can’t program in M.U.G.E.N., so I was just spriting for other creator’s projects until I found the 2DFM02 Engine — from the same creators of RPG Maker. I had finally found an engine with which I could make my own fighting games! Ganbatte Karate, specifically, was born ten years after I failed to create the same project in M.U.G.E.N.

Ganbatte Karate’s Dan is hands down one of my favorite renditions of the character. This is a fangame with a SOUL!

Q: What were the main limitations of 2DFM02 for the game? Did they force you to give up on some concepts/ideas for the game?

Glady not, because is my fourth 2DFM02 project, so I have planned that already having the limitations in mind. Though, I would love if 2DFM02 had Options, stage select and control configuration like M.U.G.E.N.

Q: The first time I wrote you, you mentioned a “lost Italian translation” of 2DFM02 and a Brazilian community for 2DFM02! Can you tell me more about it? I’m pretty interested in learning more about the history of this engine!

The first western translation was in Italian language, and then was translated to English, which then became famous. Years later, we also got a Portuguese version, but the Italian one was the only one that kept the Sample Game [Andrea’s note: this refers to the 2DFM02 sample game “2nd Heat”, originally included with the engine]. Sadly this version was lost in time and I hope someday, someone will upload it again, if they still have this files.

[Andrea’s note: Ulissan told me that there is still a Brazilian community of game makers using the engine, and he gave me a link to this dedicated Facebook group.]

“2nd Heat” was the sample game included with the original version of 2DFM02. According to Ulissan, the first unofficial Italian translation of the engine was the only one which distributed the game too. Fortunately for game preservation, this is actually included in the version of the engine that can be download at myabandonware (see bottom of this article)

Q: Would you advise 2DFM02 to beginners or do you think there is a better alternative now?

Nowadays, we have better engines, so I strongly recommend to learn those modern Engines like Unity for free, but to learn game development, create a prototype and start smooth, I suggest 2DFM02, especially if you can’t program in code. If you are good with coding, I suggest Unity instead.

Ganbatte Karate runs on a Portuguese translation of 2DFM02, which, among other things, edited the option menus and the built-in splash screen with the engine logo.

Q: What was the hardest thing to code in 2DFM02 for Ganbatte Karate? It can be a move, a hit state, a specific interaction…

The hardest thing was Ganbatte Karate itself: I have spent 3 months with Jin Kazama (the first character I sprited for the game), because I wanted to make him really solid, and open to updates. Before that, my hardest endeavor had been the grab system for Pocket Slam, that would work like in Slam Masters II — because I’m really bad on Variables also! [laughs]

Pocket Slam is another game by Ulissan, made with the same engine and focused on wrestling

Q: I still have one question: Ganbatte Karate started as a fan game, correct? But I saw that there are also many original characters. What is the reason for their inclusion?

The reason for the inclusion is that there were many people who wished to put their own original karate fighters in the same game as Ryu, Jin Kazama and Daniel-san. And I was needing money! [laughs]

Beto, Kenta and Tre3 are original characters commissioned by their creators to be part of the game.

But how does Ganbatte Karate play?

At its core, Ganbatte Karate is a traditional 2D fighting game, with four attack buttons (Light Punch, Light Kick, Strong Punch, Strong Kick) and standard motion inputs (fireball motions, dragon punch motions and so on).

There is a super meter divided into 3 sections. Each fighter has at least a level 1 and a level 3 super, while some have more than that (e.g. Dan’s “raging demon”-like super Otoko Michi).

Each special move has two variants, depending on the strength of the button used after the motion. EX moves are performed by completing the input of a special move with both punch both or both kick buttons pressed, depending on the move. Grabs are performed by pressing both punches or both kick buttons at the same time.

Each character has also access to a parry (performed by pressing Strong Punch + Strong Kick or the dedicated shortcut button) and to a unique move called Kata Waza (performed by pressing Light Punch + Light Kick or the dedicated shortcut button). Kata Waza is a skill that changes depending on the character and varies a lot around the cast. Dan’s Kata Waza, for example, is his signature taunt, which builds half a meter of super bar; Jin has a strong, unblockable punch; Goh Hibiki throws an unblockable slow fireball; Donovan enters a power up state once per match; Marco unleashes his signature Zanretsuken; Makoto uses her Karakusa command grab…

A mix of mainstream, obscure, and original characters

The cast currently comprises sixteen playable characters, of which three are commissioned OCs (Beto, Kenta and Tre3), two come from comic books (Donovan and the Emperor of Karate), while all the others are from various fighting game franchises (Jin from Tekken; Ryu, Akuma, Dan, Makoto and Goh Hibiki from Street Fighter; Marco Rodriguez from Garou; Mii Brawler from Smash Bros; Joe from Power Athlete). One character, Calquin, comes from a rather obscure M.U.G.E.N. fighting game, of which I could only find some old YouTube videos and a demo.

Goh Hibiki is displeased to see his son.

The game has an arcade mode with cutscenes and arcade endings. While there are several English mistakes, both in grammar and spelling, the rendition of the scenes is well made and adds value to the package.

As for balance goes, I haven’t tested the game competitively, but some supers seem much stronger than others (Dan’s Otoko Michi deals almost 80% damage) and there might be some infinites.

Nevertheless, the game is fun as it is, and is definitely worth a shot, if only for the love shown by the developer in putting together his varied and colorful fan-game cast!

Light Green Eight — Inaho Town Dynamite Bomb (remake)

[Disclaimer: I have contacted Light Green Eight via Twitter to ask him question about his game. Due to a language barrier, the replies I have received were actually processed by him through the DeepL translator. I therefore report the original Japanese answers too to avoid misrepresentation of the answers. Since the game doesn’t have a public playable build yet, I have included screenshots that were sent me directly by the developer.]

Kotetsu is the fiery, hot blooded protagonist of the game — and can basically obliterate everything in his path by means of his BURNING FLAMES!

Q: When did the “Inaho Town— Dynamite Bomb” project start and why did you go for 2DFM02 instead of e.g. M.U.G.E.N.? How did the project came out to be? I have seen that it was already published once, so it seems like it has been around for a long time!

The previous version of this project started in 2013 and is now finished. The current version is a remake of the previous version and started in April 2020.

Originally, we were planning to create the game in a format other than 2DFM02 (Unity, etc.) and release it privately, but now we are creating it in 2DFM02 after receiving a request from a publisher.

We decided to use 2DFM02 because it was convenient for us to package and release the game as a single game, and because we were familiar with the engine and expected to be able to create it in less time. I also wanted to use M.U.G.E.N. as a personal hobby.
↓Here are some of the characters I created with M.U.G.E.N. (This is a secondary work of the Touhou Project):
https://nicovideo.jp/watch/sm16269198
https://nicovideo.jp/watch/sm19637532
I have a desire to use a different engine for my next project (However, if there is an extension of this project, it is likely that 2DFM02 will be used).

本プロジェクトは旧バージョンは2013年よりスタートし現在は終了していて、現在作成中のバージョンは旧バージョンのリメイクとして2020年の4月よりスタートさせました。

もともとは2DFM02以外(Unityなど)での作成、そして個人でのリリースを予定していましたが現在はパブリッシャー様からお声をいただき2DFM02での作成をしています。

2DFM02を採用したのは1つのゲームとしてパッケージ化してリリースする上で都合が良かったこと、そして使い慣れているエンジンなのであまり時間をかけずに作成できるという期待があったためです。あとはMUGENは個人の趣味で使用したかった、というのもあります。↓こちらなどはMUGENで私が作成したキャラクターになります。(東方プロジェクトの二次創作になります。)
https://nicovideo.jp/watch/sm16269198
https://nicovideo.jp/watch/sm19637532
次回では別のエンジンを使用して作成したいという気持ちがあります。(ただし、本プロジェクトの延長がある場合は2DFM02の使用があると思われます。)

[Andrea’s note: this is more or less what Tomay told me for Angels of Battle. Most 2DFM02 creators seem to agree on these facts.]

[Andrea’s note: The original version of Inaho Town — Dynamite Bomb was available in the West through the (now defunct) Playism store. A legal way to play it still exist, though: one can buy the game from DLSite, if one wants to check it out!]

Q: What were the main limitations of 2DFM02 for the game? Did they force you to give up on some concepts/ideas for the game?

Online battles are not possible without using unofficial tools, the screen cannot be zoomed in and out, there are problems with the variables implemented in the engine, and it is difficult to create anything other than the story mode and battle mode. There are many more things, but I couldn’t spend a lot of time on it, so I decided to make it work.

オンラインでの対戦が非公式のツールを用いないと不可能なこと、画面の拡縮ができないこと、エンジンに実装されている変数に不具合があること、ストーリーモードと対戦モード以外は作成が難儀であること…などなど。それ以外にも色々ありますが時間を長くかけられないこともありその辺は割り切って作成いたしました。

[Andrea’s note: this is more or less what Tomay told me for Angels of Battle. Most 2DFM02 creators seem to agree on these facts.]

Q: I have seen very clever workarounds, like the parry/counter attack system. This is literally turning the engine on its head! Did it take long to figure out how to break the engine limits?

All the missing functions in 2DFM02 had to be created in the script, so this is just an extension of that and it didn’t take much time to create it from scratch. However, it took a lot of time to make adjustments and improvements after the implementation. If you are a skilled user of this engine, I am sure you would have implemented it in a smarter way.

[Andrea’s note: I guess this last sentence was mangled a bit by the translator and the “you” here is the generic “you” as in “one”.]

とてもありがとうございます。2DFM02で足りない機能はどれもスクリプト内で作成する必要がありましたので、これもその延長であり無から作成することはあまり時間はかかりませんでした。しかし、実装してからの調整や改良などの部分で時間がとられました。このエンジンを熟練して扱える方であればもっとスマートな形で実装していると思います。

Every game is better with a giant tiger-masked wrestler. Bonus point if he is also a fisherman with an anchor.

Q: Would you advise 2DFM02 to beginners or do you think there is a better alternative now?

I personally recommend 2DFM02 as a great first step in creating a fighting game. It is also a good choice if you don’t want to take a long time to complete. If you want to create a more high-end and elaborate game, you may want to use another engine, but it may take longer to complete.

格闘ゲーム作成の最初の入り口として2DFM02は非常に素晴らしいので私個人としてはおススメしたいと考えます。
また完成まで長く時間をかけたくない場合も良いかなと考えます。よりハイエンドで凝ったゲームを作りたい場合は他のエンジンが良いかもしれませんが完成までは長くなるかもしれません。

Whoever told that books are not a weapon, should have a talk with Mana.

Q: Now, a little bit more on the game: what were the biggest sources of inspiration re: character designs and gameplay?

Basically, the game is heavily influenced by manga, anime and other games. Originally, I had the desire to make a flashy action game set in a Japanese school or town. In creating this game, I was inspired by the manga “Tenjou Tenka (https://nicovideo.jp/watch/sm1594950)” and I like Rumiko Takahashi’s works, so I decided to references “Ranma 1/2”, “Urusei Yatsura”, Then there’s the Giant Robot OVA, etc. As for games, Capcom’s “Rival Schools” has had the biggest influence on me. I also use “Big Bang Beat” as a reference. There are too many influences in character creation to list here.

[Andrea’s note: Big Bang Beat is another 2D doujin fighting game. I couldn’t find an official page — most likely due to my deficiencies in Japanese, so I linked a long play of the game instead. There exist an English wiki of the game, in case you are interested. The links to the official page are unfortunately not working anymore.]

[Update 12.11.2021: Thanks to Twitter user Nathan Bisbo (@Nbisbo), I have managed to track down the archived original website for Big Bang Beat on the Wayback Machine. A page for its sequel Big Bang Beat Revolve was also retrieved. While patches for the games are still online, there doesn’t seem to be a legal way to purchase and download the games themselves. As for what it happened, the doujin circle NRF, which originally worked on Big Bang Beat, transferred their IP rights to Aya Games, which went on to develop the sequel known as BBBR. NRF would then go on to develop Million KNights Vermillion, which seems to be lost to time too.]

基本的に漫画やアニメ、ほかのゲームの影響を大きく受けています。もともと日本の学校や1つの町を舞台にした派手なアクションゲームを作りたかったという欲求がありました。本作を作るにあたり漫画であれば「天上天下(https://nicovideo.jp/watch/sm1594950)」、高橋留美子先生の作品が好きなので「らんま1/2」や「うる星やつら」、あとは「ジャイアントロボOVA」など ゲームではあればカプコンの「ジャスティス学園」からの影響が最も大きく受けています。「ビッグバンビート」も参考にしています。キャラクターを作成する上ではここに書ききれないほど多くの作品の影響を受けています。

The UI of the sequel is much cleaner than the 2013 version. Also, IS THAT A PSYCHIC VENDING MACHINE OUT OF NOWHERE? As a side note, the influence of Rival Schools on the character designs and stages is interestingly quite evident.

Q: What was the hardest thing to code in 2DFM02 for Inaho Town— Dynamite Bomb? It can be a move, a hit state, a specific interaction…

Implementing a new action system and creating a new development environment made it difficult to organize and apply variables and scripts, which took a lot of time. Also, although this is not limited to fighting games, it takes the longest time to make adjustments after all the characters and stages have been implemented. Also, the addition of more damage motions and reactions required special processing, so it was a challenge to make adjustments as well.

新規のアクション用のシステムの実装と開発する環境を新しくすることにあたり、変数やスクリプトを整理し適用させることが難しく大きく時間がかかりました。また、これは格闘ゲームに限ったことではありませんがすべてのキャラクターとステージが実装されてからの調整が最も時間がかかりますね。あとはやられモーションやリアクションを多く増やしたことも専用の処理が必要になったりで、調整と合わせて苦労しました。

Loads of flashy special effects for these moves!

Two notes about Inaho Town Dynamite Bomb

As the game has no public build yet, I cannot really describe the details of how it plays. All information available on this upcoming 2D Fighter Maker 2002 game can be found on the developer’s Twitter profile.

From what we know so far, the game will feature mid and low parries, with different follow-ups on a successful evasion, a recovery burst, which will work as a “get off me” move and restore some health, air-dashes emphasis on mobility, plus the usual array of special and super moves one can expect from a game in this genre.

This picture shows the activation of the “recovery burst”. In the tweet where the developer announced it, he commented: “I’d like to make expressions like “unleash the power” sound more like “chuuni”. Your OCs will release their hidden powers too, won’t they?”

As soon as a playable build is available, I will definitely review it for you all, so you can look forward to it 😉

Till next time, old friend!

I hope you have enjoyed this double feature about modern 2D Fighter Maker 2002 games! There would be a lot more to talk about, and maybe I will write more on the topic in the near future! The engine is old, struggling to keep up, but if the will is strong, there are still possibilities to use it for making games, still in 2021! So, burn your cosmo and keeps on creating amazing stuff, as the developers I have had the pleasure to interview are doing!

Engine summary

Name of the engine: 2D Fighter Maker 2002 (called 2D Fighter Maker 2nd too)
Publisher: Enterbrain
Available on: PC (English version)
Year of release: 2001
Netcode: none (but one can use Lilithport for any 2DFM02 games)
Legal status: it is legal to sell games made with the Japanese version. The English version is an unauthorized, fan-made translation
In one sentence: good engine for beginners in the fighting game making scene, but has several limitations due to its age.

Game summary — Ganbatte Karate

Name: Ganbatte Karate
Developer: Ulissan Game Dev (Patreon)
Available on: PC (GameJolt)
Price: Free
Year of release: in progress (version tested in this article: 0.1.4)
Netcode: none (but one can use Lilithport for any 2DFM02 games)
In one sentence: A 2DFM02 game which uses Neo Geo style sprites to build a fun karate experience, by collecting together several karateka from different franchises.

Game summary — Inaho Town Dynamite Bomb

Name: Inaho Town Dynamite Bomb (remake, as the original version has the same name and was released years ago)
Developer: らぐはちさん:南東ライトグリーン8(Light Green Eight)
Available on: not disclosed yet
Price: not disclosed yet
Year of release: not disclosed yet
Netcode: none (but one can use Lilithport for any 2DFM02 games)
In one sentence: A 2DFM02 game which stretches the limits of the engine with an excellent spritework. The game is still in active development.

Special thanks to Light Green Eight, Ulissan and Border Violation Taisei for answering my questions and helping me understanding the modern 2D Fighter Maker scene better!

If you are interested in more coverage about indie fighting games, you can find me on Twitter at @AndreaDProjects

Other articles in the series

Posted in Interviews, Reviews and tagged , , , , , .