Fatal Fury Battle Archive Vol.2 is a compilation game consisting of three titles from the Fatal Fury franchise: Real Bout Fatal Fury, Real Bout Fatal Fury Special and Real Bout Fatal Fury 2.
If you don’t know what Fatal Fury is then I don’t blame you. Fatal Fury is SNK’s first fighting game franchise and back in the 90’s it was a major title with arcade machines set up right next to Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat, it seems it just wasn’t popular enough to save itself from obscurity. I remember playing the original Fatal Fury on my Mega Drive as a kid and loving it, I even preferred it to Street Fighter; upon playing it now, though, I realise I was an idiot. Don’t get me wrong Fatal fury is in no way horrible, it just doesn’t stand up to the greats. It’s hard to critique a fighting game because a lot of what makes them enjoyable comes down to personal preference, nevertheless here are my thoughts.
Fatal Fury is a simple 2D fighter, reminiscent of old school Street Fighter with hand drawn sprites, basic attack commands and quarter-moon special attacks. The ‘Real Bout’ titles found in Battle Archive Vol.2 are very much the same but are more fast paced and they’ve added a power meter for super attacks. The one main mechanic that sets it apart from other fighting games is that every arena you fight in has three different planes you can fight in – the foreground, the middle ground and the background.
I assume the developers were trying to incorporate a type of 3D element into the game for more variety of play but in a 2D realm it just feels awkward because it’s hard to tell exactly where you are. The foreground and background are primarily used as escape planes to dodge attacks which would be interesting if it was well implemented, which it is not. There are certain attacks that can hit you no matter what plane you’re on and there’s no indicator to tell what attacks those are, also the pace of the fight is too fast for something so complicated (too often I found myself distracted from what my opponent was doing because I was trying to decipher exactly where he was relative to my position).
There is very little diversity in the command lists of every character. You can jump into anyone and pretty much know that the majority of moves are going to be quarter-moon and half-moon special attacks. That can be good to level out player’s skill but it in the long run it just provides less content in the games, which is a shame because all that’s in them is a basic arcade mode – no story mode, no extra features, nothing. Just start the game, fight through the roster then credits roll; for all three games. I also found the button mapping unintuitive. You press triangle for kicks, X for punches, circle to switch planes and square to do a ‘jolt skill’ (I have no idea what a jolt skill is; most of the time it’s just a normal attack and in some characters it enhances a special attack or two. Why it’s called a jolt skill is beyond me). Why is it triangle for kicks and X for punches? When I look at a controller and see four buttons in a diamond that controls a character you would assume the top button of the diamond controls the top half of the character and vice versa, but no, it’s reversed for some reason. You can change it in the settings so it’s no big deal but I just thought it was weird that this was the default.
All three of these games are pretty much exactly the same except for some very minor cosmetic changes and a few added characters in Real Bout 2. I guess that makes sense as the title does contain the word archive, but I feel it’s a bit of a disappointment paying for three of what is essentially the same game. This is a PS4 re-release of a PS2 archive of a bunch of NEO GEO games so I wonder if there was any real demand for it.
Now I didn’t enjoy these games and I know there are thousands of Fatal Fury fans out there who would tell me I don’t ‘get it’, and maybe I don’t, but I feel it would be an insult to the fighting genre to give Fatal Fury anything over par. I’ve played some downright horrid fighting games in the past and this is definitely not one of those. It looks and feels nice and responsive and I give it points for being inventive but bad implementation then takes those points away.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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