Review by colexo_vizion
"gotta start somewhere"
SNK's first full fledged fighting game sucked right from the beginning. While it would blossom into an esteemed franchise respected among the hardcore, there is no denying its beginnings were weak. Three playable characters and a stack of lame bosses. Though it introduced us to Terry, Andy, Joe, Raiden, Tung-Fu Rue and the ubiquitous Geese Howard, playing FF (Fatal Fury) today is like pulling out Plan Nine from Outerspace just for kicks.
Don't get me wrong, the game introduced some interesting features and some unique special attacks. But the game play itself is limited. The combo system is sloppy and the simplest special move are a pain to pull off. The graphics are bland enough to be annoying. In 1991 you could find more appealing visuals on the Genesis (another D quality title Altered Beast may have played ugly but sure didn't look it). Game play is reduced to basically jumping all over the screen and landing some random attacks. The throw button is extremely overpowering and lays a lot of damage onto opponents. But balance really isn't an issue here as everyone moves at pretty much the same floaty pace while special moves that either are useless or overpowering. And FF's trademark line-sway system...while this mechanic was improved in later FF iterations, here it is awkward and more times than not causes some confusion in battles. Easily exploitable but also easy to see attacks coming from plane to plane making it pretty useless. Also the collision attacks between opponents is like flopping around digital cotton balls.
The game art has some interesting moments, like Tung-Fu Rue's down pouring temple. And admitedly I enjoy the cheesy introduction that would be unhumorously recycled and reworked up until FFSpecial. Background art is interesting at times (Geese's stage is wonderfully forboding). On the sound front, the music and sound effects are Genesis old.
FF despite its massive shortcomings (and to its credit it was the second fighting game ever made, after Street Fighter 2) some lite fun can be had knocking floaty opponents around the screen. And with all its inadequecies, I would play this before any of the Art of Fighting games. Despite some balance issues -- Terry is the strongest, Joe the weakest and Andy sits in the middle -- and boss battles that require more cheap shots than actual maneuvering, FF offers some silly fun. With WAY better sequels down the line, some becoming classic titles in their own right, FF deserves a bit of respect for at least being the first.
Reviewer's Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Originally Posted: 11/25/09
Game Release: Fatal Fury (US, 12/20/91)
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