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Platform

Playstation 2

 

Genre

Fighting

 

Publisher

SNK

 

Developer

SNK

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q3 2007

 

 

- Three and a half games for $15

- Interesting pieces of arcade history

- Excellent music in all titles

 

 

- Fatal Fury 1 is a bit limited

- Since they're older titles, they're not as full featured as more recent fighting games

 

 

Review: Capcom vs. SNK 2 (PS2)

Review: Soul Calibur III (PS2)

Review: Tekken 5 (PS2)

 

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Fatal Fury Battle Archives Vol. 1

Score: 7.5 / 10

 

Poor SNK has long been at the mercy of SCEA, who's continuously kept their 2D, sprite-based games from reaching American shores. As a result, SNK's recent series of Neo Geo compilations haven't left Japan , up until a few months ago. Earlier this year, we saw the release of the Art of Fighting Anthology -- a little bit cryptic, since it's hardly one of the Neo Geo's best series -- but now SNK is gearing up with the release of Fatal Fury Battle Archives Volume 1. This includes three and a half games - the original Fatal Fury, Fatal Fury 2, Fatal Fury Special (basically an update of Fatal Fury 2) and Fatal Fury 3.

 

fatal fury battle archives vol 1          fatal fury battle archives vol 1

 

Fatal Fury was SNK's first attempt to ape the success of Capcom's Street Fighter II. The player can choose from one of three characters -- main character Terry Bogard, his brother Andy Bogard, and Thai kickboxer Joe Higashi -- as they battle through the streets of Southtown to face off against the malicious Geese Howard,

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the most badass final boss in fighting game history. There are some other notable characters, including Billy Kane, the British rocker who wields huge a staff; Duck King, the crazy breakdancer; and Tung Fu Rue, the generic old guy who can morph into a huge muscular behemoth. All of these may be familiar for those who've played the recent (and soon to

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 be released in the US) King of Fighters XI and Neo Geo Battle Coliseum.

 

Fatal Fury brought two new features to fighting games - the action takes place on two planes, and characters can switch between them, allowing an extra level of strategy. It also introduced two-on-one cooperative battles, so you can take on Geese's thugs with a friend. Unfortunately, Fatal Fury's big failing is that only the three main characters - Terry, Andy, and Joe - are playable, and the rest are simply boss characters. The console versions allow you to play as the entire roster, which was unfortunately never reintroduced to the Neo Geo version. The controls here are also a bit simplistic, consisting of just a punch, a kick, and a throw button.

 

Fatal Fury 2 greatly improves the graphics and controls. It also expands the roster by including several new characters, including the fan favorite scantily clad ninja female Mai Shiranui and Korean Tae Kwon Do master Kim Kaphwan, both of whom are mainstays in the King of Fighters series. This brings the total roster selection to eight characters.  This time, a huge German warrior named Wolfgang Krauser takes the center stage as the villain, along with several new boss characters. Fatal Fury Special is merely an upgrade of Fatal Fury 2, which includes playable boss characters and a few extra characters from the original game, as well as a cameo from Ryo Sakazaki from the Art of Fighting series. All of these additions basically makes Fatal Fury 2 obsolete. They're both fun games, but they really could've used a turbo mode, because they feel a bit slow paced compared to SFII Turbo.

 

fatal fury battle archives vol 1          fatal fury battle archives vol 1

 

Fatal Fury 3 features completely redrawn graphics, which are a bit brighter and more detailed than the previous games. The character roster has been shuffled around a bit, dumping most of the new guys from FF2 in favor of a bunch of newcomers, the most notable being fan favorite blond-haired fighter Blue Mary and crazed yazuka henchman Ryuji Yamazaki. The rest of the new cast is largely forgettable, including the boring Jin twins, a pair of Chinese lads with mystical powers. The gameplay has been tightened up even more, and the plane switching has been altered into momentary dodge attacks, which speeds up the pacing. It also has some amusingly clever (at least for an SNK game) dialogue before and after each fight.

 

All four games include the option for the original Neo Geo soundtrack or the arranged music found in the Neo Geo CD versions. There are also color option selections. The Japanese version had included online play, but this was removed for the American release.

 

Even though Fatal Fury was never as well regarded as Street Fighter II, they're still excellent games. To some extent, they've been made obsolete by the later releases (such as the Real Bout games included on the Fatal Fury Battle Archives Vol. 2, which will hopefully also be released in America), but they're an excellent piece of history and definitely worth picking up if you know any fighting game fans who grew up during the '90s.

 

- Kurt Kalata

(September 6, 2007)

 

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