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M.U.G.E.N is a 2D fighting game engine that allows users to manually create their own characters, stages, lifebars and screen packs in different styles. Creators can upload their game parts individually and allow other people to import their objects via a semi-modular style script into their own Mugen. With this, even a programing amateur can create their own fight game of hundreds if not thousands of characters.
M.U.G.E.N was first released on July 17, 1999 for MS-DOS, but development for this version ceased when Elecbyte switched to the Linux in November of 2001. Elecbyte posted a request for donations on their site to continue the project, but the the group discontinued development and shut down the site in 2003. Later speculation pointed at leaks made public of a private Windows-based M.U.G.E.N beta that was provided to donators. This private WinM.U.G.E.N beta contained a two-character roster limit, locked game modes, and nag screens. In 2004 a “no-limit” hack was released that removed most restrictions. Many updates and releases by third parties followed, fixing bugs and compatibility issues.
Elecbyte returned mid 2007 and released a full M.U.G.E.N in September 2009. This new version had many new features, but also many issues, as it required a fair amount adjustments to the previously made content in order to be fully compatible with the new engine. Elecbyte stated that they would create a fully compatible M.U.G.E.N, and they kept word. In January 18th, 2011, a 1.0 version of M.U.G.E.N was made. This new version ironed out most bugs that were featured in the release candidates and is compatible with almost all of the previously made content.
As of August 2014, the latest version is 1.1 BETA 1 released on August 6th, 2013.
Although M.U.G.E.N resembles and plays like any typical modern-fighting game, it is actually an engine used in creating modern-fighting games, add-ons and even non-fighting games. It is controlled with a 7-button layout and has several play modes from Arcade to Survival to Watch modes. The number of playable characters and stages it can hold depends on how much space the hard drive can hold, as well as how many the M.U.G.E.N screen can show (which may require a sharp eye and/or memorization on which part of the character select screen the characters are located). Some character select screens don’t have to show the icons of the characters and just list them in different sections with category names.
While several YouTube users uploaded videos of this fighting game engine with numerous characters from different origins fighting with and/or against each other, several viewers misunderstood it either as a retail video game or perhaps a homebrew video game, several other viewers asked questions on how to download and assemble projects to it. The number of available M.U.G.E.N videos is very large, and they can be found on Google Videos and especially YouTube and Nico Nico Douga (NND). In Japan, M.U.G.E.N is working as a mirror reflecting current online trend among Japanese internet users. There is more to it than mere a game just having huge amount of user generated characters and stages.
The character roster for M.U.G.E.N contains a large variety of many different characters. These vary from tv celebrities and popular anime characters, to game characters and objects. Many memes from both Western and Japanese culture have also found their way into M.U.G.E.N. These include, but are by far not limited to: Peanut Butter Jelly Time, Shoop Da Whoop, various Vocaloid and Touhou Project characters, Weegee and Rick Astley.
On top of the many characters that make their way into M.U.G.E.N, there are plenty of popular attacks that make their way into various characters special attack set. Attacks like Road Roller Da/Wryyy and the Rule 63 induceing Midnight Bliss are good examples of this.
Though not as common as single character releases, there is a good deal of full game projects built with M.U.G.E.N. These games creators usually modify the M.U.G.E.N engine to make the characters exculsive to their game (and will crash the standard M.U.G.E.N engine if attempted “theft” occurs).
Serio’s Castlevania Fighter
An ongoing project by user Serio who combines many of the Castlevania and Castlevania Spinoff games into one fighting game. Additional to the vs multiplayer, the story mode pits you off off against many bosses from the series, concluding with Count Dracula himself.
Card Sagas Wars
Created by Abysswolf and Orkihimes. It will include 36 characters, around 90 assist characters “cards”, and is entirely hand drawn. The game has been in production for over 5 years now, though a Beta is due to arrive after the next Fighter Factory is released.
Nijiura Kakutou Game
Nijiura Kakutou Game (Japanese : 虹裏格闘ゲーム), also called as “Nijikaku” for short, is made by users in Nijiura (二次裏) boards in the Japanese image board site Futaba Channel (2chan) which are quite similar to /b/ in 4chan. This full game contains many popular characters in Nijiura such as OS-tan , Takakazu Abe/Yaranaika?, Back Beard/Damn all you lolicon!, Spelunker, etc. .
For the complete listing of memes that M.U.G.E.N is contributed, check out KYM Collection – M.U.G.E.N.