Tag Archives: fatal fury

FGC #306 King of Fighters 2006

Let's go, brosVideogames are subjective. Yes, that is obvious, but considering how often a review or preview boils down to, “Well, is it good?” it’s worth remembering that, for a lot of people, that’s all that matters. And “good”, practically by definition, is subjective. What’s more, videogames are gestalts. Actually, just typing that reminds me NieR: Gestalt and NieR: Automata again. I managed to barely mention the gameplay of both of those games during that article, but, from my perspective, I prefer Gestalt’s “simple” combat to Automata’s Platinum “dodge all the time” combat. I hate “waiting for an opening”, and would much rather just slam the attack button mindlessly until the giant mutant cows come home. Does this mean I think Automata “isn’t good”? No, of course not, but it does mean that I would prefer a “version” of Automata that is a little more… mindless. And do I think my opinion is “right”? Heck no, I simply know what I like. Hey, if I’m going to play through a forty hour story, I don’t want to get stuck on one stupid boss because I don’t 100% understand its dodge window.

But sometimes knowing your opinion is wrong is a tad… disheartening. NieR Automata has outsold NieR Gestalt by a roughly twelve billion to one ratio, so it’s pretty safe to say that if there is another NieR adventure, it’s more likely to feature pretty robots dodging bullets than grizzled old men clumsily waving around spears. It’s the way of things. Even though videogames are made up of many completely separate pieces (what I like most about Automata could arguably work just as well in a JRPG… or even a “light” platformer), the people that judge “what went right” often latch onto one or two tiny facets and emulate that for years. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing Skyrim for its expansive world or because you really like collecting cheese wedges, the game is deemed a success exclusively for its “open world gameplay”. And then “Skyrim clones” are thus labeled because of that emulated open world, and not because they borrowed any of the other billion moving pieces found in a game that large. Success can only be one thing, and look no further than the army of Super Mario Bros. imitators on the NES to see how well that works when the game in question is “simple”. And it’s just as easy to copy your favorite part of a game as its worst.

Is it supposed to be heart?Today’s game is technically King of Fighters 2006, but, as I realized after ROB picked the dang thing, it’s a game with another name: King of Fighters Maximum Impact 2. What’s the distinction? Why does that name strike fear into my heart? Well, because this, like Street Fighter EX before it, is yet another 2-D fighting game franchise that decided to make the leap to 3-D, and forsake everything good about the good ol’ days. Delightful sprite-work? Gone for the sake of clunky 3-D models. Fireballs owning the only plane available? Welcome to sidestep city. And the beloved, honed-over-a-decade incremental improvements to the KOF franchise were all tossed out with the bathwater to make way for new characters like Kyo with a Dye Job and Butterfly Girl. The old King of Fighters is dead, long live the new 3-D king (of fighters).

And… uh… I feel kind of bad because… ya know… I actually like King of Fighters: Maximum Impact.

Fighting games, by my reckoning, are pretty much pure videogame experiences. There are no ways to “emulate” a fighting game outside of a computer simulation (you could, for instance, set up a Super Mario Bros.-esque obstacle course in reality, or just read Xenosaga: The Book and get much the same experience as the game, but the only way to hurl a fireball directly at an opponent that is attempting to dodge via a punch that launches its user three body lengths in the air is to ask Capcom nicely), and, in a manner of speaking, Poor guyyou know everything a fighting game has to offer within its first few moments. It’s extremely rare to see a fighting game that follows the JRPG tradition of “stick around, it really gets good about 20 hours in”, or the old action game chestnut of switching control to some unwanted gimmick randomly until the real game starts up again (I’m going to start calling this Batmobile syndrome). Ultimately, what you see is what you get with a fighting game, and if it doesn’t click in the first few minutes, you’re probably never going to like it. Yes, there’s the chance you’ll get better at a fighting game, or learn to appreciate it more as you discover the various systems, but that first impression is at its most pure in the fighting genre.

And from that perspective, from that general “does it feel right”, I’d much rather play Maximum Impact over practically every other King of Fighters game released before or after. And I kind of like the King of Fighters franchise! It’s no Street Fighter, MvC, or even Blazblue, but it’s always been generally fun. I played King of Fighters ’95 on the Playstation (1) roughly until about ten minutes after my eyes started bleeding, and I’d hop right back onto the Chang Koehan train if the doctors ever let me have that disc back. And, with the exception of King of Fighters 12 (or was it 13? Or both?), I have yet to find a King of Fighters game that I distinctly dislike. But, for no reason other than an extremely vague “cuz I like it”, I have enjoyed Maximum Impact from its first moment. And “Maximum Impact 2” is just MI, but with more characters (including Fio of Metal Slug!), so it’s arguably my favorite King of Fighters game in the franchise. In fact, before the release of King of Fighters 14, it was indisputably my number one KoF. King of Fighters 2006, you’re a pretty rad game.

LOOK OUTBut I feel almost ashamed to admit that. This is the King of Fighters game that is the least King of Fighters. All the little pieces that should make up a King of Fighters game aren’t here. Despite the 2006 moniker, it is forever relegated to the spin-off ghetto, where it’s forced to hang out with the likes of Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks and (shudder) Soulcalibur Legends. Ask any true King of Fighters fan, and Maximum Impact is bound to be derided. According to history, it’s the black sheep of the franchise, an evolutionary dead end that was later abandoned for more traditional gameplay. King of Fighters 2006 was a mistake, plain and simple.

But it’s one of my favorite mistakes, so eat it, objective reviews of the franchise. This gestalt, somehow, adds up to something great. Heck, show me another King of Fighters where I can fight a bleeding Metal Slug, and then maybe we’ll talk.

FGC #306 King of Fighters 2006

  • System: Playstation 2, and like six arcades worldwide. You know, the PS2 era was kind of weird: a game was either on every system, or only PS2. That seems odd compared to the 360/PS3 “universal” era.
  • Number of players: Only two people may become the King of Fighters. Wait, no, that doesn’t quite work.
  • Favorite Character: I really enjoy the cast of this game, as it includes luminaries from Mark of the Wolves, Metal Slug, and the ol’ King of Fighters standbys like Mai and Ralf. But I’m going to go with one of the more unique Maximum Impact characters, Mignon Beart. She’s supposed to be Athena’s “rival” character, and she’s designed to be… as annoying as possible. And she succeeds! So I prefer to see her crazy antics defeating the hyper-serious main characters of the franchise. Nobody likes you, Kyo.
  • OwieA shape of things to dumb: Everyone in the cast gets a “fun” alternate costume. And most of these costumes are pure fan service for other SNK games! And you know all of these costumes would be deemed DLC a console generation later.
  • Sideshow: This might be the only fighting game wherein the silly side games are more fun than… anything. Like, anything ever. Who wants to beat up a stationary car when there’s a Metal Slug available? Or an encroaching steamroller, so you can act out your wildest Who Framed Roger Rabbit fantasies? And there’s always the option to beat moai heads out of solid rock.
  • What’s in a name? This is Maximum Impact 2 everywhere but on North American Playstation 2s. Considering King of Fighters has always been something of a niche of a niche genre (particularly in 2006), it’s a bizarre appeal to the diehard fans.
  • Did you know? Billy Kane’s little sister makes her only playable appearance in this one. She’s basically a Billy clone, but it’s nice to see a little more female representation from the franchise.
  • Would I play again: Maybe! I mean, I like this game, but there are a lot of other fighting games out there. Maybe the next time I need to see the Beart family again, I’ll shake off the dust.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Disney Infinity (3.whatever)! Time to play with toys! Please look forward to it!

Owie

FGC #230 Fatal Fury: First Contact

Let's make contact!Fatal Fury gets no respect.

The first Fatal Fury game (titled, I dunno, King of Fighters or something) was released in 1991, the same year Street Fighter 2 hit the arcades. Street Fighter 2 codified the fighting game as we know it, but before its release (and inescapable popularity), fighting games were kind of… unfocused. Nobody was quite sure whether a fighting game should be a more balanced “everybody gets a turn” affair, or, as we saw with a number of games (including the original Street Fighter), something more like a beat ‘em up’s boss rush. That is, essentially, the origin of Fatal Fury: three unique fighters (none of which are the mayor of Metro City) battle eight or so fighters that are all, basically, “bosses”. Even “starting” fighters in the game are balanced primarily to be simply CPU controlled antagonists, unless you think Tung Fu Rue’s Hulk transformation or Richard Meyer’s handstands were meant for human control. Oh, and, of course, this is where the idea of “SNK boss syndrome” came from, what with Geese Howard being roughly as “fair” as bringing a bazooka to a knife fight. And Billy Kane wasn’t much better…

Fatal Fury 2 was released, as one might expect, after Street Fighter 2 conquered the arcades. Fatal Fury 2 is a “proper” fighting game… but maybe it aped Street Fighter 2 a little too closely? There are eight playable characters, including exactly one woman, one fat guy, and one wrestler; and then there are four bosses: a boxer, a sadistic Spaniard, a returning champion from the first one, and then a super-powered maniac bent on global domination. Oh, and Fatal Fury 2 made the significant improvement of making the special moves of Fatal Fury actually, ya know, useable. Improvement all around, but, aside from Fatal Fury’s usual “2 planes” system, nothing really groundbreaking here.

OwieFatal Fury 3, though, now there was something special. Okay, so maybe it was practically impossible to play in North America, and maybe it wasn’t all that different from the previous Fatal Fury games, and maybe I’m basing this entirely on the fact that they somehow snuck Dragonball Z’s Android 18 into the festivities, but Fatal Fury 3 is just plain fun to play. Fatal Fury and Fatal Fury 2 (and its “hyper champion edition”, Fatal Fury Special) are both “okay” games, but Fatal Fury 3 really feels complete. Heck, more importantly, it’s a game I would actually play for a reason other than sheer novelty, or to prove that Fatal Fury 2’s bloody matador wasn’t some kind of fever dream. It’s no great surprise that Fatal Fury 3 wound up with a number of “improved versions”, including at least one that imported the protagonist of A Clockwork Orange. Hey, at least Fatal Fury is creative with its persistent plagiarism.

And then there was Fatal Fury: Wild Ambition, the mandatory “it’s 1999, all 2-D fighters need a 3-D revision” game, and, surprise, it licked wolf crotch. Not even going to acknowledge that game happened (wait a second…).

D'aww circusBut that same year, there was today’s featured game, Fatal Fury: First Contact. FF:FC is another Neo-Geo Pocket Color fighting game, and like a certain game featuring some Fatal Fury gals, it’s a pretty fun way to spend a bus ride. We’ve got thirteen fighters (only twelve available outside of versus mode), and seemingly all of the old Fatal Fury standbys in adorable chibi form. Okay, someone forgot to invite Blue Mary this time, but we’ve got Terry, Andy, Joe, Mai, Billy, Geese, Wolfgang, and Kim to make up for it. And we’ve got Rick Strowd and Li Xiangfei (who is, let’s face it, Guilty Gear’s Jam, somehow premiering at almost exactly at the same time) as “new” characters, too. It’s a fun time for fighting on a portable, and, with the exception of no “plane” battling this time, this feels unmistakably like a Fatal Fury game. Billy Kane, Geese Howard, and Wolfgang Krauser are even way too difficult to fight with the poor Neo-Geo Pocket’s analog stick, so it really earns its Fatal Fury wings there, too.

And that was the last Fatal Fury game ever released. End of franchise.

Did I spell that right?Okay, that isn’t completely accurate. We still have Garou: Mark of the Wolves, the… sorta… finale of the Fatal Fury series. It’s basically the Vanilla Street Fighter 3 of the Fatal Fury series, though: all of your favorite characters are gone, save the iconic hero of the franchise, and, in the place of Dhalsim, we’ve got Necro. Or, in this case, Kim gets two sons, and Andy and Mai got a ninja toddler. It does not feel like an appropriate trade. There’s also a guy named Gato who does not have metal joints, and you can enjoy the climactic battle between Butt and Dong. I mean, yes, this is probably the best fighting game ever to be related to Fatal Fury, and, honestly, it’s probably one of the best “simple” (i.e. no crazy tag teams or super jumping or whatever) fighting games out there… But I wanted to see Geese Howard again, not his whiny, mama’s boy of a son. I miss Raiden. Tizoc just isn’t the same.

And, yes, speaking of luchadores that may eventually become dinosaurs, you could probably make the argument that the Fatal Fury series became the King of Fighters series, a SNK franchise that persists into the modern age. Hell, you could even claim that King of Fighters is the most obvious rival to the Street Fighter 2-D fighting crown, as they’re both franchises that have been around since the early days, and they both seem to come out with a new “edition” at least annually (I feel like we got six versions of Street Fighter 4 in one week a few years back). But, while Fatal Fury debuted with the subtitle “The King of Fighters” (and that is the name of the tournament Geese Howard sponsors every year he happens to be alive), the real King of Fighters games have a tendency to focus on its own protagonists (like Kyo and that dude that tied his pant legs together), and the Fatal Fury heroes are featured, but still feel more like cameos than anything else. Are you a slot machine person?Nobody spent years making Terry Bogard clones in King of Fighters, even though that would have been hilarious. They could all be wearing different caps! It’d be fun!

But if we’re just going by games named “Fatal Fury”, the final entry was simply a dinky little fighting game on the Neo-Geo Pocket. Fatal Fury: First Contact is a fun product, but “First Contact” being the final entry seems like a cruel joke on a franchise that helped kick off the fighting game revolution. Terry, Andy, and Joe deserve better, and maybe we’ll see a return to South Town some day, but that seems pretty far off.

Some games get no respect.

FGC #230 Fatal Fury: First Contact

  • System: Neo-Geo Pocket Color. Maybe it’ll be part of the Switch Virtual Console? … Hopefully?
  • Number of players: Fighting Game = Two.
  • Speaking of No Respect: Remind me not to use the exact same premise when ROB inevitably chooses Final Fight Streetwise.
  • So, did you beat it? I can only consistently beat this game on normal difficulty levels while playing as the boss characters. This is about how SNK games usually roll.
  • AwesomeFavorite Fighter: Billy Kane is a beast in this thing. His flaming special attacks take off about half a life bar of damage and… yeah, he’s a SNK boss, why do you ask?
  • Did you know? Billy Kane’s last name is actually supposed to be pronounced “Khan”. You know, unlike the cane that is his trademark weapon. SNK does not understand the English language at all.
  • Would I play again: If there was an easy way to replay Neo-Geo Pocket games, then sure. Otherwise, I just can’t be bothered to find the right number of batteries…

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Scooby-Doo Mystery for the SNES! Rut roh, Shaggy, I don’t think that’s going to be a good one. Please look forward to it!

Owie