Developed by SNK, Fu’un Super Combo is a compilation of two NEOGEO Japan-exclusive fighting games, Savage Reign and Kizuna Encounter. The port is actually of both of these when they were re-released for the PS2, making this technically a PS4 port of a PS2 port of two NEOGEO games. The two games are from the same series, with Savage Reign being the first game and Kizuna Encounter being its sequel, sharing the core gameplay and most of the featured characters. Savage Reign was first released in 1995, four years after Fatal Fury and one year after King of Fighters, what SNK are probably most well-known for. Fu’un Super Combo was released in 2007 for the PS2, and re-released on the PS4 Store in 2017. The graphics are PS2 standard, considering this is a port, with some choppy sprite work and rough around the edges text. There is an option for English menu text, but it takes some looking for in the various settings and configurations on the hub screen.
The story for both games included revolves around some villain named King Leo, who hosts a fighting tournament, blah blah blah, you’ve probably heard it all before. And, given that only the menu language can be changed, dialogue and (what little there is) voice acting remains in Japanese. But this is a fighting game, you’re probably not here for the story. You want to beat up the computer, maybe even your friends. Here’s how:
Both games use a four button system, one for punches, one for kicks, one for weapon attacks and one for the game-specific mechanic. In Savage Reign, the fourth button is used to jump from the background to the foreground and vice versa, adding a sense of the gameplay found in 3D fighters to a 2D game. This is somewhat reminiscent of the two-plane system found in Fatal Fury, another SNK fighting game series. In Kizuna Encounter, the fourth button is used to switch between your two selected characters, slightly reminiscent of the team mechanic found in King of Fighters ‘94. However, the difference is you can tag out on the fly, rather than having to wait for one character’s life bar to deplete. Despite both attempts to ‘spice up’ the gameplay, it pretty much just plays like any other 2D fighter, with low attacks, jump-in overheads, and projectiles.
When I said the games are ‘weapon based’, an image of something such as the SoulCalibur series may have been conjured, where every character’s moveset is completely different depending on the weapon they’re carrying. In Fu’un Super Combo, the only change actually caused by the weapon is the kind of projectile attack thrown, which, while it does add some variety, the difference between each character isn’t really all that noticeable. Sure, one of the character’s projectile, Chung’s, can briefly turn you into a chicken, which caught me off guard, but other than that it just serves the same purpose as everybody else’s.
Playing Savage Reign, it’s easy to get confused with the whole two dimensional planes to switch between, but I also can’t really see any point to it. Switching between the two takes a single button press, and in doing so your character will fly over there, leg outstretched in a dive attack. It functions pretty much as an ordinary dive attack you can perform in normal play. When you and your opponent are on opposite sides of the arena, all you can really do is toss projectiles at each other. Not one of these has hit in my experience, either getting blocked or colliding with the projectile my opponent threw. Here, the pace slowed down, and it made me lose interest until one of us found an opportunity to jump back over and actually start fighting again.
It’s here Kizuna Encounter succeeds, ditching the background/foreground system for a simpler tag system, although it’s not as simple as you might believe. On the ground in each stage are two squares, one red and one blue, each for player one and player two respectively. You can only tag out your characters with a button press whilst you’re standing in your own coloured square — and if one of your characters dies, you lose the round. This makes the tension you feel when you’re cornered and losing life fast rocket through the roof. Not only do you have to fight your way out of the corner without losing all of your health, but you have to make it all the way to your square to tag out safely. There were some intense matches had in this game, and both players making strategic moves to block off each other’s square actually conveyed the concepts of position in fighting games so much better than Savage Reign did. Obviously, it isn’t quite as important as in a fully 3D fighting game such as Tekken, but the tag area was constantly on my mind whilst playing, considering both my and the opponent’s health. It’s this depth that I absolutely loved.
Overall, Kizuna Encounter makes this compilation worth it. Savage Reign, while fun, just gets stale after a while with its convoluted jumping between planes system. To be fair, these games are getting dated by now, and neither were ever as well-received as their older bros Fatal Fury and King of Fighters. Fu’un Super Combo makes for a nice addition to the collection, with Kizuna Encounter being a superb fighting game.
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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