A BrutalGamer.com review.
Arguably one of the things that SNK are best known for is the King of Fighters series. Even as recently as last year, new King of Fighters games have made their way onto various consoles. However, Terry Bogard and company were first introduced in SNK’s first ever attempt at a fighting game, the Neo Geo’s Fatal Fury. Let’s step back in time, shall we?
Fatal Fury is a standard beat-em-up in the Street Fight mould. In the single player game, your aim is to win the King of Fighters tournament. You could pick from three characters for the single player game, Terry Bogard, Andy Bogard and Joe Higashi, each employing a different fighting style. You then fight your way to the final boss, Geese Howard.
The controls and gameplay are very straight forward, using the face buttons to punch, kick and block while using certain movements to perform special attacks. While the controls are easy enough to pick up, there are times when they aren’t as responsive as you’d like, with special moves particularly suffering. The AI can be an absolute git to defeat at times as well, as even on Easy difficulty they see most of your specials coming and get out of the way.
The fighting also takes across two 2D planes, which is something that hadn’t really been seen before or since. It added a level of complexity, but it’s easy to see why the feature never caught on, as it’s just unnecessary. But the actual gameplay is the right balance of challenging and fun. Interestingly, the whole idea of a second player jumping in was done differently here. Instead of the second player challenging you, you would both gang up on the AI opponent. Once he is defeated, you then fight each other to decide who advances. It makes an interesting change.
The game itself is very bright and vibrant, with a wide variety of areas to fight in and very distinct looking fighters. The graphical quality is right up there with games of the era, looking more cartoonish than Street Fighter II did. The final bout in particular, where the boss transforms after a few hits and the weather in the stage changes mid match, was very impressive in the day and is still a surprise to see in a game from the early 90s. Admittedly, the graphics haven’t aged all that well, but it still looks nice.
The sound effects in the game as attacks land are satisfyingly meaty. However, they are quite loud, which means the background music does kind of get lost, which is a shame as what you do hear is really good and is in great tempo with the action.
Fatal Fury is a decent enough fighter which had signs of what was to come for what became the King of Fighters series. It’s certainly a competent, though not spectacular fighter which hasn’t aged particularly well. But fighting game enthusiasts won’t be impressed by the choice of only 3 playable characters, and the controls are somewhat clunky at times. When you have Street Fighter II HD Remix on the PS3 as well, it’s hard to recommend buying Fatal Fury over that, unless you’re a fighting fiend. Still, it’s decent and, for those who discovered the King of Fighters later on, this is a nice history lesson.