Review by Shirow

"Like fine wine, Garou just gets better"

Many years have passed...Terry and the others got older...New warriors appeared...A tournament was thought to have ended but it was yet to take place once more…And a man was to show his skills to the world again but this time, his student would be here too…Enter Garou : Mark of the Wolves !

You've already guessed it: SNK has launched a new title in their second best fighting series, Garou Dentetsu. But just don't stick to ''a new Garou Dentetsu'' because this one doesn't ressemble to its prequels in the least, except in the fact that it's a usual beat-em-up and the kick-ass Terry Bogard is in it! Yeah, right, it IS another title in what the series that has given SNK the recognition it deserved but Garou: Mark of the Wolves take things to an even higher level.

As for the plot, Garou continues on just like in real life…Which means that the characters have got older. Only Terry is stillp present while all the others have retired. Well, of course, Terry can't be out since he's the main character but just doesn't let that fool you. I know some are probably deceived thinking ''No Kim, no Ryuji, no Mai…'' but the new characters will make you forget them all very easily. Most of all, meet the new Garou cast : Rock Howard ! Yes Sir, Rock Howard ! ! Ha, I see you are trembling….You are right my friend, trembling is all that you can do now. Kain, I won't tell you more about him, play the game and prepare to know one of those amazing plots that only SNK can do when it comes to fighting games.

Although Garou is yet another Fatal Fury, there has been various changes and of course, cool new ideas. The plot is a rather complex one with a lot of information of what has being going on in during these 10 years. The only remaining character is Terry and he's as strong as ever. The new characters all have something to do with older characters from FF and even KoF. Thus, Rock Howard is Geese's son while Marco Rodriguez is Ryo's student. Kim has been replaced by his 2 sons. And I haven't even talked of the greatest new character, Freeman. Freeman is a bit like Iori but much cooler and he has awesome an animation. There are some other characters that have nothing to do with the old cast though like Kevin Rian, Hokutomaru and Gato but that didn't prevent them from becoming favorites as soon as the game came out.

The other change you'll immediately notice concerns the Escape system which has disappeared. You can no longer go in the background and will have to rely on other strategies to defeat your oppoenents. New features include the T.O.P. system. When you've chosen your character, you reach a screen where you'll see that your lifebar is in 3 parts. You then have to set your T.O.P. part. This basically allows to make a special attack while your life is within this range. It is easy to know when you can perfrom these attacks as your characters will flash within that period.
Each character has a different attack and while some may be useful, others may be too lame and you won't even bother with those. Marco's T.O.P. is bound to make you think of 2 guys too…

The moves are true to the FF traditions. Terry's Power Dunk has been completely changed although I prefer the older version. He no longer has the cheap Rising tackle, guess who has it? Rock and he's good at it too. The S-Power and P-Power are still here and some characters even have a third P-Power move which you'll need to find out for yourself. Other KoF characters also appear in the game in the bakcgrounds. I've already spotted King and Yamazaki so far. Keep your eyes open!

Graphics: 10

If I were given three words to describe the graphics in GMotW, I guess I would just say '' YES, YES and...YES!!! ''. How can a game be so good graphically? This game must certainly have the best graphics for a beat-em-up! Everything is so well done. The characters are so cool and what about the backgrounds? Oh God, SNK really surpassed themselves here. You think I'm exaggerating...? Why don't you go and find out by yourself? And if you don't agree with me, I wonder if you'll ever be satisfied in your life!!! Terry's and Rock's outfits are the coolest I've seen in a fighting game. Terry's stage whcih takes place on a train is awesome.

The first time I played this game, I thought that yes, 10 years had gone by. This title is a major leap over the previous Garou Dentetsu, RB Special. The characters are now more realistic and while bigger, the animation is even better. Heck, it's like playing on PS2 and I wouldn't be surprised if this game was converted to the PS2. This seems highly probable but that's another matter and I'm here to review the game, not for SONY's propaganda. Each character is very well drawn and the details they sport is amazing. The first time I saw Rock, I even wanted a jacket like Rock's or Terry's (Rock is better but I'll go for any of those two !). Some characters like Hokutomaru even seem to come from the jungle and need I mention Freeman who is dressed à la Orochi.

The stages are as perfect as can be. They're very colorful and yet, belong perfectly to the game. Garou was known in the past for its dark and gloomy backgrounds. I'm so glad SNK decided to change things this time. Also, the battles now take place in cool places, not just forests and mansions. You'll now fight on Trains, on the road and er…in a forest, but that's because Butt doesn't like to leave his place. And a very good decision too because I like his stage.

Control: 9

Just plain old Fatal Fury with improvements. The control is great and the combos come out quick and clean. There are no complaints to the control in this game simply because as usual, SNK has provided us with the greatest control in fighting games! All supers are performed the same way except those secret ones like Rock's Deadly Neo Rave and Marco's Kyokugen special. And since the supers are all alike for the characters, even newbies won't feel disoriented like it was observed with previous titles. Of course, the harder combos need a lot of playing and practice but I just want to tell that for once, you'll enjoy a SNK fighting game as soon as you start playing it.

Music: 10

SNK is known to include good music in its titles and this new title isn't an exception! The themes are really cool and before long, they will go on playing in your mind even when you're not playing! If I start talking of music and go more in-depth, I know how I will end up talking about all of them because truthfully, they are all wonderful. It would be hard to choose one or two but I have to admit that none can compare to Rock's and Hokutomaru's theme. Rock's theme will more likely haunt you even after you've played the game. No joke, it kept playing in my head a whole week the first time I played the game and now, each time I play it again, I keep hoping to end up fighting against him. Well, it has just started playing in my head again now that I'm talking of it. Quick, I have to finish typing this review and go play against Rock again.

Sound effects: 9

Sound effects in Garou are what they should be in any beat-em-up! No edgy or hesitant voices. But instead, actors who know what is expected from them and who know how to get their feelings across. Yet again, Terry strikes me as being the best with his ''Sorry !'', followed closely by Rock and his highly-pitched specials. All the characters are perfect and the voice-acting is as good as in Resident Evil's or Megal Gear's. The moves all come out in fashion and are well-timed and you're bound to imitate your favorite character after a while.

Gameplay: 10

You can even play as the bosses with the correct cheat!!! And the large number of characters make Garou a really great game!!! Each character has a storyline going on with another one and this is presented in the form of dialogues before and after you fight against them. Just getting to see all of those gives the game a perfect score in terms of gameplay. And trying to end up against Kain is tough such that you'll throw all that you've got in it. And need I mention the versus mode ? The game is excellent against the CPU but the real kick lies, of course, when a bunch of friends play against each other.

Overall: 10

Garou: Mark of the Wolves is an excellent way for SNK to end the series that started it all. Hey, there would have been no KOF if Garou had never seen the light of day. With so much to offer and practically no flaws, you won't make a mistake in playing this game and the story mode is bound to take all your time. And like in all Garou's, the bosses are accessible too to let you fully know the wonderful plot behind superb graphics, top-notch control, good sound effects and most of all, a stunning gameplay.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 03/28/01, Updated 11/09/02

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