Bootleg video games are often a mixed bag. With so much out there, you never what you're going to get. It could be a hidden gem or it could be an absolute Brundle-fly-esque abomination that's better left alone.
In a recent video, the retro YouTuber St1ka gave us an insight into the world of bootleg Taiwenese fighting games for the Game Boy Color, and in doing so he shone a spotlight on three surprisingly decent titles from the developer Vast Flame that seem to fit into this former category.
As St1ka explains in his video, Vast Flame was a prolific bootleg developer that was active in the late 90s and early 2000s, that managed to gain access to the Takara King of Fighters engine created for Game Boy ports of SNK's The King of Fighters '95 and 96'.
Using this engine, it produced some shockingly good fighting games like Queen Fighter 2000, Super Fighter 2001 Alpha, and Soul Falchion, which all drew fairly obvious inspiration from official SNK titles like SNK Gals Fighters, King of Fighters 99, and The Last Blade/Samurai Shodown.
As St1ka covers in the video, it was this high-quality standard that set Vast Flame apart from other bootleggers, with the studio not only ripping sprites from other SNK games but modifying them to create their own original fighters, most of whom were inspired by SNK or Capcom characters.
If you're wondering why St1ka is covering this now... Well, apart from being a retro-focused YouTuber (check the name above the door), the games all featured copy protection, which prevented most of them from being playable in the past.
As a result, they were pretty much lost to time until Handheld Underground dumped the games back in May 2022. You can check out more details about the individual games over at their website, and If you want to watch St1ka's full video (which we recommend you do) to see the games in action, you can do so below: