Friday 19 October 2012

Fatal Fury Battle Archives Vol 1 (PS2 Review)

Fatal Fury is to SNK what Street Fighter is Capcom. The series contains many of the company's most iconic characters, most notably Terry and Andy Bogard, and the game world is used in some of their other fighting franchises such as King of the Fighters and the Art of Fighting series. This first collection of Fatal Fury games contains the original Fatal Fury, Fatal Fury 2, Fatal Fury Special and Fatal Fury 3: Road to Victory.

The games follow the story of Terry and Andy as they fight their mortal enemy Geese Howard. Like all good bad guys he never stays dead for long and constantly returns to host more fighting tournaments. Fatal Fury 3 takes a slightly different approach by having everyone meeting up to scrap over an ancient scroll that will reveal a fighters true power.

Let's get the bad news out of the way right from the off. Anyone loading up the original Fatal Fury is in for a shock. Fatal Fury is not a good game and it has aged terribly. Characters only have one punch and kick and a limited amount of special moves. There are also only three playable characters. However, keep in mind that the original Street Fighter was awful as well.

Moving swiftly on to Fatal Fury 2 and Fatal Fury Special things improve immeasurably. Now you have a full compliment of characters to pick from and a decent range of moves and specials to use. The main gimmick of the games is that you can fight on two different planes. Players can either jump from one to the other at will or use certain moves to throw characters into the background. The idea is to add a more tactical edge to matches and in part it succeeds. Once you get to grips with it you can leap back and forth to dodge special moves and break up combos. However, it can be a little frustrating when you spend half the match just trying to get on the same plane as the opponent in order to land a hit.

The minor problem of occasionally getting stuck in a leaping between foreground and background match aside, both Fatal Fury 2 and Special are solid fighting games. The fighters are all remarkably different and each has their own style and personality. There is also a notable absence of characters that copy Street Fighter creations. This means you are going to have to play with everyone on offer to find out who fits your style and we, at Retro101, think this a very good thing.

Fatal Fury 2 and Fatal Fury Special may be decent enough, but the real star of the compilation is the excellent Fatal Fury 3: Road to the Final Victory. Every idea started in the previous games has been refined and improved upon no end here. The mechanic of moving between planes has been changed slightly and now works much better. Instead of leaping around, characters can only move in and out of the main fighting plane for a few seconds. This allows decent players to not only evade moves and break throws, but also to circle around their opponents looking for an opening. Master the skill and your enemies will be left punching air and be open to a counter attack.

The speed and graphical finesse has also been ramped up considerably. The game now plays out effortlessly in a blaze of rhythm and colour. The extra speed and smoothness of flow means moves can be linked together much more effortlessly than before. Fatal Fury 3 is now much more of a strategic game than any of the series before it. One wrong move can leave you open to an onslaught of attacks and no one is ever down and out until they have lost the last piece of their energy bar.

As you can probably tell we really like this compilation. The original game may be poor now, but adding the excellent Fatal Fury 3 to the package makes it essential for any fight fan out there. We can't wait for the Volume 2 and the Real Bout games to make their appearance. Hopefully, they will make it over to the UK and then we can dream of finally getting a Pal release for Garou: Mark of Wolves.


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