Waku Waku 7 is a 2D fighting game developed and released by SunSoft for arcades (running Neo Geo MVS hardware) in November 20, 1996. It was also released for the Neo Geo AES exclusive to Japan on the same day.
The second fighting game developed by Sunsoft (after Galaxy Fight: Universal Warriors), Waku Waku 7 pits seven eccentric fighters (each based on common anime archetypes) against each other to obtain all seven WakuWaku balls in modern WakuWaku City and grant their greatest wish. The game was originally planned as a direct sequel to Galaxy Fight, but was changed and made more comical and lighthearted.
Unlike Sunsoft's previous Neo Geo fighting game, Waku Waku 7 did not get an international console release or a Neo Geo CD version. Along with the Neo Geo AES release, it was ported to the Sega Saturn, exclusively in Japan, on June 20, 1997. The original version was also digitally re-released for the Wii (via Virtual Console) by D4 Enterprise exclusive to Japan on April 27, 2010, and for the Nintendo Switch on March 3, 2017 (as a launch title) by HAMSTER as part of the Arcade Archives series. It was also bundled with Galaxy Fight: Universal Warriors in the 2008 SNK Playmore Japan-exclusive compilation Sunsoft Collection for the PlayStation 2, adding online multiplayer support.
Waku Waku 7 plays like a traditional 2D fighter with four attack buttons (two Punches and two Kicks) and gameplay inspired by the Darkstalkers series. Along with standard special moves, the game includes a variety of special techniques (some of which are character-dependent):
- Tapping forward twice on the joystick causes the character to sprint forward. This can be held by holding the joystick forward and can be cancelled into two special attacks (one with Heavy Punch and one with Heavy Kick). Dandy-J's sprint is replaced with a unique long-reaching combat roll.
- Tapping backward twice on the joystick causes the character to dash backward. Unlike sprinting, this technique cannot be held to continue dashing. Tesse and both boss characters, however, can continue dashing by holding the joystick.
- Multiple recovery options after being knocked into the ground. Mashing the attack buttons allows players to recover faster. Holding backward or forward on the joystick performs a recovery roll. Holding upward on the joystick performs a wake-up attack.
- Some attacks knocks characters into the opposing wall, which can be recovered by pressing either a Punch or Kick button as they hit the wall. While the Punch version recovers at the wall, the Kick version allows players to rebound back to the opponent.
Other abilities include attacking downed opponents, air blocking, cancelling enemy throws, nullifying projectile attacks with regular attacks, a dedicated overhead attack (both Punch and Kick buttons), and a unique command throw (the WakuWaku, done by half-circle-backwards on the joystick and Heavy Kick). Rai and Politank-Z can also crawl forward (by holding down-forward on the joystick), while Rai and Slash can wall jump.
Each player has a multi-stock super meter for special abilities, which is charged by performing attacks with their character. Depending on the settings by the arcade operator (or by an option in the Home versions), the meter can automatically charge over time.
While both players in Versus Mode can hold up to seven total stocks on their super meter, both fighters in single-player mode have the same amount of stocks as the amount of WakuWaku balls the player possesses (starting with one stock at Stage 1 and ending with seven stocks at Stage 7). The only exception is the bonus round with Bonus Kun, which starts both fighters with seven stocks fully charged.
Along with the standard character-specific super moves (called DokiDoki Attacks), players can use an extra stock of their super meter to perform one of three unique abilities:
- Super Mode - Special blast that leaves the character invulnerable for a second (while knocking back and damaging enemies that are close), also granting a temporary power-up for the character (boosting both offense and defense). Performed by pressing all four attack buttons simultaneously.
- HaraHara Attack - Special risky character-specific super moves that have a very long warm-up time (leaving them vulnerable to enemy attacks) but deal a powerful unblockable attack. Performed by tapping down twice and then pressing both Punch or Kick buttons simultaneously.
The game includes seven playable characters and two bosses (both only playable in the console versions in Versus Mode).