Review by Guilty_Gearhead

"Running Wild Indeed!"

Fatal Fury: Mark of the Wolves was released in the waining days of the Dreamcast, and defied all logic of being released in the U.S. It was also SNK's swan song before they went bankrupt in 2000. What a way to go out! Mark of the Wolves takes what players loved about the previous Fatal Fury incarnations and adds massive amounts of polish, then takes all of the characters form the previous games and removes them... with the exception of Terry Bogard who is now 35. Think of this as SNK's Street Fighter III. It has the basics of it's predecessors, but manages to improve upon them by leaps and bounds. The animation is above ANY other game on the market and it looks like one big fighting cartoon. The sprites are all new and look nothing like the older and more frequently used ones in the KOF series and the backgrounds look like they are on an entirely different arcade system than the Neo-Geo. But enough random praising, let's break it down now.

Game play 9/10 - MOTW takes place about ten years after the last Real Bout Fatal Fury. There is now a new generation of fighters to take the place of the older fighters and Rock Howard (son of Geese Howard) has grown up and been trained by Terry Bogard to fight. I don't really think there is a solid story here that covers every character, but each person's story has to do with a master of Dark Karate named Grant and some evil guy named Kain who seem to know everything about everyone, especially Geese's legacy and Rock's mother in particular. It's nice to see the newer fighters, but I wish they would have at least brought back another of the older characters or two. MOTW adds the SNK equal to Street Fighter III's parry called just defence. Push back to block at the moment your opponent attacks and your character will flash blue and get an opportunity to counter attack quickly, as well as take no damage of any kind.. T.O.P. is another new addition to the series. It stands for Top Offensive Power and basically allows you to choose a segment of your character's life bar to dedicate to this mode. One you have reached that section on your life bar, your character flashes and enters a mode in which their life recovers while idol, offense and defence are greatly increased and a new limit break kind of move in added to their arsenal. Overall, all of the additions are welcome ones. Even if Just defense offers no risk if you don't do it right. You'll still block and be safe.

Graphics 10/10 - Now THIS is what SNK games should look like! MOTW puts other SNK games like the KOF series and Metal Slug to shame. All of the character sprites have been redone to look much better that the dated KOF ones and the animation is second to none. The backgrounds are really well done as well and the game overall is hard to believe that it is all done on 13 year old Neo-Geo hardware. Oh, and Terry has gotten rid of his traditional orange outfit and odd looking trucker hat in favor of a more mature looking brown leather bomber jacket, darker jeans, and no ponytail. Nothing to do with graphics, but I just thought it looked better.

Control 8/10 - The controls are very generic here. Two punches, two kicks, and two triggers can be set to button combos suck as HP+HK, or LP+LK. The only things that are holding the quality of the controls down is that the super combos are rather difficult to pull of on a standard Dreamcast pad, so you should invest in a good fighting stick to fully enjoy MOTW.

Sound 10/10 - All of the sounds are of good quality and clear, but the music is what really stands out here. Most of the stage tracks are good, but there are a few that really stand out such as Terry , Rock, Kim Jae Hoon, Hotaru, and Kevin Rian's stages are the ones that really stand out. Basically, just great music for a great fighter.

Overall 9/10 - Before MOTW, I was just a casual SNK fan, playing some Metal Slug here and there. But MOTW has made me respect everything that SNK has done to preserve the art of 2-D gaming. The game just comes together in a way that few other fighters have, or probably ever will again. The character balance, music, characters, animation, graphics etc, etc. If you have never played an SNK fighter, this is the title to start with.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 01/18/06

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