2D Fighter Maker 2002 — Eulogy to a dinosaur engine that refuses to die

This article is part of my ongoing “Indie Fighting Game Thursday” review/retrospective series, now on supercombo.gg! Today we talk about an engine, 2D Fighter Maker 2002, which is still being used as of 2022 despite being old enough to drive! This article was originally published on my Medium blog and has been ported to Supercombo.gg for preservation and sharing it with more people in the fighting game community.

A screenshot of Saltybet, a popular website streaming M.U.G.E.N. matches 24h straight, which allows users to bet fake money on the outcome of AI vs AI bouts.

Salty Bet is a popular byproduct of the M.U.G.E.N. scene: to describe it in a few words, put together n-thousand M.U.G.E.N. characters and let them fight in AI vs AI matches non-stop on stream, while the logged in viewers bet virtual money (not real dollars!) on them for fun. It’s suprisingly entertaining to watch.

Not the first, not the last

Ponpon, an animated plushie, menacingly walks towards Jean Valjean, in this cursed screenshot from the indie game Arm Joe, based on Les Miserables

When a plushie with a chad walk and melee Marth’s throw range meets Jean Valjean, the plushie with the chad walk wins. (Source of the screenshot).

The character selection screen of Axel City, another game made with 2D Fighter Maker 2002. Many characters are displayed, including a basic explanation on how the controls work.

By browsing the net, one can find doujin games like Axel City, that sport an impressive amount of characters in an incredible ’90s aesthetic. Sadly, the animations are definitely not on par with sprite quality. A sequel to Axel City actually managed to hit the arcades in Japan. Notice that the window bar is the only way to edit the game’s options, something sadly very common when dealing with this engine.

An undying dinosaur

A screeshot from “Inaho-Cho Dynamite Bomb”, where the character named Yozo uses his robotic arm to grab his opponent Seitaro.

There are some impressive games made with 2D Fighter Maker 2002, as of 2021. One of such games is “Inaho Town — Dynamite Bomb”, currently developed by Light Green Eight (Source of the screenshot).

Limitations foster creativity

The option menu of 2D Fighter Maker 2002: a Windows form with some controls to edit timer, number of rounds and stage for VS mode.

No jokes, a menu like this is the only way to set things such as timer for VS mode, number of rounds or even if the game has to try and poll the system for connected joypads.

Pick up and play

A view on the GUI of 2D Fighter Maker 2002, showing the modular block system used to build the game and using a sprite from the sample game included with the engine.

The editor is surprisingly simple to use, once one gets the hang of it. You don’t need to know Japanese, the translated version uses English names for the moves too (even if the English translation is somewhat broken and needs some time to “click”)

A screenshot from Angels of Battle picturing the character Elvi shooting R-Voltes (a character with a follower assist).

For how anachronistic it can sound, Angels of Battles v1.5 has been released right as I was writing this article. That’s right, a brand new 2D Fighter Maker 2002 game released in August 2021.

How to get it?

Wait, there’s more!

After publishing this article, I reached out for four fighting game developers who made use of this engine. My interviews with them can be read on this very website!

Engine summary

Other articles in the series

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