I think it's safe to say that the golden age of side-scrolling fighting games has ended with the SNES and Sega Genesis losing their popularity. Maybe you have stumbled upon a few remakes or emulations, but considering how many great one-on-one beat em ups (which I also really like) have been released for consoles recently, it's also clearly to see that big developers don't care for the sidescrolling kind of the genre much anymore. Luckily, freeware games are known for reviving games that were thought of as long forgotten, and Little Fighter 2 is a great example for this.
Story of Little Fighter 2
Although it contains a Stage mode, Little Fighter 2 doesn't have a story, but if you really want to see the game's characters in an animation, you should check the fan-made flash animation series: Little Fighter Alpha.
Gameplay of Little Fighter 2
In LF2 you control a fighter, each with different abilities, for instance, while Woody can teleport away from his enemies, or Rudolf, the ninja (quite an odd way to call a ninja, isn't it?) can transform into people he touched or clone himself, Freeze has the ability to throw iceballs on his opponents that capture them inside an iceblock. In a close combat characters usually use chains of punches and kicks, but there are some special skills that you can use right next to your opponent too. Most special attacks cost mana points that regenerate over time.
The thing I love most about sidescrolling fighting games is, that even though you can play against each other competitively, most game modes allow you to cooperate with other players, fighting together against hordes of enemies, or if your friends don't feel like playing you can set computer teammates that you can even give commands like come, move or stay.
Little Fighter 2 combines this with a great selection of different characters, there's a total of 23 characters you can choose from, 10 you can play with from the beginning and 13 you have to unlock by playing the stages (or type in a simple cheat ;)) though 8 of them are rather playable minions you'll meet along the game. All characters have different strengths and weaknesses, and a few can even change to someone else or fusion with a teammate so feel free to experiment for a while before jumping into a game. Surprisingly, you can also unlock the boss, Julian. This character is undoubtedly the strongest of all, to be honest fighting with him against a standard character would be unfair, but in LF2 you can team up with multiple companions and balance the match. Joining a team is also possible in the stage mode, but the number of players will affect the number of enemies you have to beat, but of course the AI of your opponents can be changed in the difficulty settings.
The basic controls are simple, you move with the arrow keys, plus there's a button each for attack, jump, and block, but you can configurate the buttons which is especially convenient if you want to play with more people on the same keyboard. The special skills are activated by pressing the defense button, a direction and then attack or jump. You can look up the entire moves list on the official site, there's also a link to it in the control settings menu, or download the guide which includes the Firzen fusional technique too and explains things a little more detailed.
As I already mentioned, in LF2 you can play with or against many opponents, controlled either by a player or by the computer. This makes new game modes possible like the battle, where two players choose each an entire army to fight with. Furthermore, in the game you'll find several weapons like baseball bats, crates, stones or scythes. You can also throw these, so use them wisely.
Another great thing is the possibility of recording matches. All you have to do is clicking the turn the recording button in the recording info menu and all of your matches that you play will be saved. Then, you can play these back anytime, or share them with anyone who has the same version of LF2 by sending the text file with the data of your recording. And if that's still not enough, you can try creating your own character with the help of some template files especially made for this purpose. If you don't have the patience to do this yourself, look up the Little Fighter forums, there should be plenty of characters ready to download.
-Most energy balls can be hit back.
-If Firen and Freeze run towards each other while both have less than 1/3 of their energy, after a huge explosion the combine into Firzen and one of the players take control over him.
-Louis can change into LouisEX if he has less than 1/3 of his life, in this form he takes off his armor but gets a spear. LouisEX has a different moves list from Luis' and he's also faster, plus running through people will hit them since he holds his spear in front of him. This can also help you hit back energy balls.
-After his Strike attack (D, down, A) the character called Deep can do a Leap Attack (D, up, J, A). This will hit the airborne opponent guaranteedly. Davis has a similar combination, except he uses his normal melee combo to hit the enemy in the air.
-John's Energy Shield can also be used as an attack if you opponent touches it.
-In the stage mode you can save some characters lying tied up in levels. These will fight with you.
Little Fighter 2 combines elements from sidescrolling beat em ups with Dragonball-like characters and techniques and lots of modes for one or more players, mixing all into an extremely fun fighting game easy enogh for anyone to jump in and play, while it still leaves enough free room for exploring new combos or even new forms of some characters. Anyone who likes fighting games of any kind and doesn't get irritated by plain levels or the lack of a story should give it a try.