Mugen (Stylized as M.U.G.E.N) is a freeware 2D fighting game engine designed by Elecbyte originally for MS-DOS in 1999, and written in C. It was then released on Linux after the discontinuation of the DOS version in 2001, and later on Microsoft Windows and macOS. Early revisions of Mugen used the Allegro Library, but later versions use the SDL Library.
Though what M.U.G.E.N stands for is unknown, Mugen (無限) is actually a romanized Japanese word that means "unlimited" or "infinite".
Mugen uses four directional keys with seven buttons for gameplay (A, B, C, X, Y, Z and Start). The D-pad being used for movement, duck and jump, A, B, C, X, Y and Z for the punches and kicks, and Start generally for the taunts. However, characters do not necessarily use all seven buttons nor need to follow a traditional 6-button/4-button layout.
Why It Rocks
- About anybody can create characters, stages and screenpacks thanks to how easy it is, and it's still extremely simple to deal with coding. The simplicity has been further expanded with an unofficial program called Fighter Factory Studio.
- Also completely customizable, so people can program new moves, Hyper sparks, other effects, etc. for every kind of content. With that characters won't have to get average moves like simple punches or projectiles!
- Mugen isn't only a video game engine. It also acts as a fighting game that you can customize by adding any character, stage, screenpacks and more. Many screenpacks also have hundreds of slots for characters so players can add a plenty of them in one game.
- Practically no "limits" for every type of content. Content can be made in different resolutions and amounts of colors, allowing people to "rush" their own characters before publishing them online.
- This also allows funny joke characters to be made, like the internet meme Shoop Da Whoop whose only attack is to fire a large and deadly laser.
- Also, some absent or additional features of Mugen have been remade/made by the community. A notable work is a Super Smash Bros. mod that converts the gameplay into a Smash-alike one, 4v4/3v3 matches, Tag Team System, and a 4GB patch used to keep the game from crashing.
- Even though it might look complicated, it's also easy to understand how to setup the engine and add new stuff on it. Just place files in their specific folders and edit the configuration files with the notepad application.
- Extremely visually appealing thanks to how powerful Mugen is with the use of SDL. It's capable of displaying high-quality effects and outputting HD sounds, and the graphics still aren't old nowadays even when compared to a modern PC game.
- Can be played in HD widescreen for some stages and at native 60 FPS, which is impressive for a game engine that hasn't been updated in a very long time.
- Newer versions of Mugen are still supported by operating systems as old as Windows XP (which came out in 2001), due to the application being low-end.
- It created a large community and even websites for to that engine, resulting in a big amount of content being made for Mugen. There is also also an unofficial wiki dedicated to it that also showcases content from other people, named Mugen Database.
- Without the Mugen community, we wouldn't get impressive characters like ShinRyoga & NeOaNkH's Mario. And speaking of these characters, not a single copyright notice has ever been filled into them, not even those from Nintendo and their infamous overprotection of their IPs.
- It also spawned a wave of gameplay videos on YouTube around the late 2000s-early 2010s, but still on-going to this day. Mostly due to Mugen's awesome visuals, they still aren't boring to watch.
The Only Bad Quality
- As Elecbyte's website is currently inactive and mostly displaying 403 forbidden messages, it is almost impossible to access to some of their official tutorials for Mugen which are found there. Fortunately, there are still unofficial tutorials made by veterans.
GamesRadar surprisingly ranked Mugen as one of the 12 weirdest fighting games of all time. In April of 2017, Geek.com named Mugen one of the "games of the year 2017".