Review by Scary Mika

"Like a fine wine..."

Well now that SNK is officially dead I guess there won't be anymore of these games. Chances are that Garou will be the final chapter in the Fatal Fury series unless someone buys the rights for the series.

Anyway here's my review of what I think is one of the most technical and enjoyable fighters out there

Initial impressions
It sort of looks and feels like Street Fighter 3 but made by SNK instead, it has the parries (called Just Defend in this game), most old characters (everyone but Terry are gone) are gone, and the animation is top notch. Now underneath that Garou proves to hold it's own even with the many similarities. Read on to see why.

GFX 9/10
There's nothing really to complain about here, the graphics are gorgeous, all the characters are very well designed and all the special moves fit in well with the characters and the other graphics; for better or worse the graphics are set at a much higher resolution than the arcade. The only thing that doesn't make this a ten is the backgrounds; they are well detailed with many cool details in the back (try taunting and look into the background.) but they scroll poorly with not 3D or parallax effect that we are all used to.
As a side note the endings have really nice pictures but maybe they should have been animated?

Sound 8/10
With the ability to change between arrange and original music I have to give this a high grade. The sound effects sound strange compared to the Arcade some have been altered and doesn't seem to fit in very well. If you haven't played the arcade you won't notice but it's still worth mentioning.

Controls 10/10
Like a dream. This is where the game really shines. Everything is made easy and balanced for your convenience. All characters have at least one super that's very easy to perform and some have more powerful one's that takes alot of practice to pull off in time which balances thing very well.

Also the low jumps are easy to perform, much easier than in the DC version of both KOF games for example, and very useful if you know how and when to use them. All characters have a specific overhead (performed by pressing R by the default) that is very effective since it's usually very hard to beat from a crouching position.

Innovation 8/10
In this game there are 2 major innovations to the series. First of all there's the JD (Just Defend) which works kind of like Capcom's parry system made popular by the Sf3 series. Pressing back at the moment you get struck will make your character perform a JD and flashing blue. This takes away all the chipping damage and instead adds a little to your health bar, mighty useful against fireballers.

The other and most innovative new thing is the TOP (Tactical Offense Position) bar. This is a section of your health bar that when it reaches that zone will give your certain enhancements. Your character will start flashing, your health bar will recover slowly as long as it is in the TOP zone and also your character will gain a new move (performed by pressing L with the default settings). Finally gain a damage enhancement bonus (the shorter the TOP zone is the bigger the strength enhancement will be but it will not last as long.). And in addition you can adjust where you want the TOP zone to be placed on you health bar and how strong you want it to be.

Characters 9/10
The characters in this game are all well made and don't contain the over ambitious freaks we all know from SF3. There's your average Ryu and Ken type of personalities in the shape of two TKD youngsters being the old Kim Kaphwan's kids. The average hero character Rock who has taken the place of the main character even though Terry is still in the game and finally the obvious grappler The Griffon. The more original cast of characters consist of female characters, the Kung Fu kickin' Hotaru accompanied by her brother Gato, and no their styles are completely different. There's the pirate typhoon spinnin' B. Jennet, the sneaky and freaky Freeman accompanied who don't seems to follow any archetype. The bosses are cool too the first one Grant seems to be an Akuma wannabe but has ten times the personality and looks much cooler. The last boss I won't spoil for you and even though fairly cheap he is for once pretty fair and tests your reactions and skill rather than having to cheese you to death.

Story 6/10
The game's weakest point since it is so loose from the rest of the Fatal Fury games and not many people outside of Japan knows Japanese anyway. Since it is set 10 years in the future you are bound to run into many loose ends and you really need to play KOF2K if you really want to get into the plot and get everything and you won't find that for a Dreamcast.

Overall 9/10
Well it's one of SNK's finest contributes to the gaming world and a good game to remind of us of what SNK was really about. Creating innovative and clean fighting games. It is best played as a 2-player game for the average European or American. Rent or Buy? Well I'd say buy since there's not much chance of you seeing a rental copy. If you like 2D fighting games in general and especially Street Fighter 3 then you should really try for an import of this game.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 10/25/01, Updated 10/25/01


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