Monday, 30 July 2007

M.U.G.E.N - What is it?


I've just had one hell of a weekend! I tell you, you haven't lived until you've seen Shin Akuma (Gouki) & Evil Ryu going toe-to-toe with Violent Ken & Evil Dan, or watched a ungodly match between Nightmare Sephiroth Vs Nightmare SSJ5 Broli!

If you're wondering what the heck I'm talking about, let me fill you in a little! M.U.G.E.N (or just mugen for short) is a 2D Beat 'em up custom made emulator that allows the user to set up pretty much whatever they want, from which characters they want to use in their game (more on that later), what stages, music, even the look of the title screen! There is a whole ton of customisable options that you can change to suit your needs and desires. The only problem is, unless you have some familiarity with using and checking coding language, you're gonna have a little trouble putting the whole thing together and checking to make sure everything works.


-The Mugen Scene-

From what I've gathered, the Mugen scene has been very quiet recently, meaning it has been very difficult if not impossible to find anything relating to it on the Internet. Because it's effectively freeware (software that is free to anyone, on the proviso(?) that you don't modify or claim the files as your own), the programmers don't get paid to create the program, and everything that goes into it. Just like everything on the net, it was plagued by people looking to make a fast buck of the backs of these hard working guys by hosting sites that charge people to get these files, or don't give credit to those who created them.

-Putting it all together-

I had seen a lot of cool Mugen vids on YouTube for quite a while now, and I really wanted to get it up and running on my own machine at some point. Several factors kinda put me off though:

1. The original Mugen only ran on previous versions of Windows that use DOS (Win XP does not)
2. Finding the relevant files
3. The organising and coding of files.

Most of the full versions of Mugen were DOS versions (see point 1), and the only other version that would work on my machine was a basic version called WinMugen. This one is a lot easier to work with for me, but it only came with only 1 character (Kung Fu Man, very lame), 2 stages and no music. This meant that I had to get everything else and put it together myself.

I'm no stranger to coding (I know HTML and understand efficient file management), but I was a little reluctant to have to learn more coding. Fortunately, it was all pretty straightforward, and was able to get everything running within a couple of hours. Then the fun truly began!

-Screenpacks-

Once I had gotten a ton of chars (characters), I came across a slight problem. I had more chars than I had slots in the character select screen! (WinMugen only has enough slots for 10 characters) This meant that in order to have more characters to select from, I would need a new frontend (known as a screenpack), that had more character slots. Just like with finding characters on the net, the number of screenpacks readily available are few and far between.

I eventually found a good one (Mugen Tournament 3) which has space for 36 characters (there are other screenpacks that have space for up to 60 chars). Most screenpacks are just grafts of parts from their console brothers, such as Marvel Vs Capcom and Capcom Vs SNK.

If you're lucky enough to have more that 60 chars (lucky you!), the only screenpack large enough to contain all that awesomeness is the legendary EVE Battle screenpack. The EVE stands for "Everything versus Everything", and has a least 100+ char slots. Now you're cooking with gas, baby! EVE Battle was just as difficult to find on the net, but ironically, I already had a copy from a previous websearch! Go figure!

-Characters-

Once I had the whole thing up and running, the next task was to try and get every character that I knew HAD to be in the game to even make it worth all the effort. Easier said than done.

As I mentioned before, The Mugen scene is kinda dead now, so finding what you're looking for is hard, and finding something that is 100% complete is even harder. I'd found a few really good characters and stages from the more official Mugen websites, but finding some of my favorites was a lot harder (I'm still looking).

Ironical, I found a few chars I had stored on an old external hard drive. Two of them are quite possibly, the most powerful, dangerous and Broken (see: Too powerful) Mugen chars you are EVER likely to see in your life time! The name of these unspeakable monsters Nightmare Sephiroth & Nightmare SSJ5 Broli!

I have tested these guys against pretty much every other char I have including the Dark/Evil versions of Capcom favs Ryu, Ken, Akuma and Dan, and none of them (even in a 2 on one match) could put a dent in either of these guys armour! The only guys that can survive against them is.........each other!

I'm not afraid to tell you, that if you're a fan of 2D beat 'em ups, you need to see at least ONE match between these Behemoths. It's like the fate of the galaxy hangs in teh balance, and you're privileged enough to get a front row seat to the end of the universe as we know it!

If that don't get you hooked on Mugen, nothing will!

-Conclusion-

On the whole, Mugen is the kind of thing that either you love or hate. Casual gamers might be content to watch the kind of dream matches that can be created, such as Homer Simpson Vs Peter Griffin from Family Guy. Hardcore gamers on the other hand can use it as a way to expand their adaptability against a wide variety of opponents. It's especially handy for those people who are never fully satisfied with the endless sequels and remakes that Capcom and SNK keep hashing out, and expect fans to pay £40 for the privilege!

I've never been much of a 2D beat 'em up expert, but I do love martial arts, and I have a great respect for those pro gamers that can string 10+hit combos in their sleep. I've grown up with beat 'em ups, so they have a very special place in my heart. With Mugen, I can enjoy watching quality matches at my leisure, and jump in whenever I feel the need to relive those glory days of beautifully animated 2 dimensional violence on my laptop screen.

(an interesting note - in my searches on the Internet, I have come across mugen chars and stages that could only be described as HENTAI. That's all I'm willing to say on the matter, you can find out the rest for yourselves! ¬_¬)

-Extra-
Ideally, it would probably nice for those who also have an interest in Mugen to have a couple of links to relevant sites to help get themselves going. I am in NO WAY to be held responsible if you can't find what you're looking for. I had to do it the hard way, and so do you! ~_^

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M.U.G.E.N
http://conversion.wo.to/ (Character Download)
http://unofficial-winmugen.jpn.org/ (WinMugen Download)


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