Review by colexo_vizion
Classic Fatal Fury
FFS (Fatal Fury Special) is without a doubt one of the best old-school fighting games ever made. While commercially it never succeeded to knock Street Fighter 2 off the map, it proved to be an intensely fun fighting game for gamers who like their fights hardcore. Fifteen classic fighters fill the line-up with unique abilities ensuring anyone who plays will find someone they can fight with. The game is sparkling with detail and depth, and its soundtrack is A quality. FFS is the greatest fighting game upgrade to ever have been made, fixing all the problems that afflicted FF2 and adding a wealth of new game play options and strategies that make it a game you can play for months on end to master. FFS is still played in cult rotation in Japan among arcade competitors, which is a testament to the lasting power of this title. FF would not see its next great installment until years later with the masterful Mark of the Wolves. But as it stands FFS is a must for fighting game enthusiasts. Get yourself the Playstation 2 Fatal Fury Battle Archives to see how much better this title is to a lot of the fighting shlock that is on the market (I'm talking to you Tekken-heads).
Graphics: Not much as changed in this department since FF2. Characters sizes remain the same with a few new animations thrown in for good measure. All of FF2's levels return with some alternate colors and more hidden easter eggs that will pop up in the background entertaining effect. The two new levels, like Duck's discotech and Tung-Fu Rue's mountaintop are head over heels the most enticing pieces of background art in the game and Geeses' burning shrine is unforgettable. FFS is sixteen bits of graphical fury and despite its age, there are enough details to make the most cynical player take notice. My only gripe is that the so-so character art between cut scenes had been redrawn instead of being reused. They aren't terrible, the art is just boring to me. Also, the introductory cut-scene is generic boring fluff, while not affecting the game play; FFS is so good a spectacular introduction in the vein of Art of Fighting 2 or Samurai Shodown would be awesome. This was improved fortunately in FF3, which is loaded with phenominal cut-scenes and a so so sweet introduction.
Sound: The game's soundtrack has been revised a bit from FF2. The game sounds a bit clearer and the character voices are more distinguishable. There are some great moments. Krauser's theme remains potent and the sublime orchestrations of Tung-Fu Rue's level are gorgeous. What's a bit disappointing is that SNK didn't take the opportunity to create a full on remix of FF2's original score, but considering what happened to Samurai Shodown 4 musical retooling of Samurai Shodown 3's soundtrack, maybe this wasn't a bad thing. The soundtrack is good but forgettable. If SNK forgot something with any of these games, FF does not have a distinctive musical theme. The next franchise installment of FF3 would provide the best soundtrack in the entire series; but again nothing distinctly FF.
Game play: FFS is faster and even deeper than FF2. The control layout of two punches and two kicks remains the same, and the line-sway system, while adding considerable depth for serious players, is still an abusable mechanic for cheap players. Fortunately because of the faster pacing, jumping in and out of the background isn't as predictable as it was in FF2. Par for course, all fifteen characters are matched up to perfect balance and even the bosses who can provide a hell of challenge on higher difficulties are tough without being impossibly cheap (you know who you are Rugal). The combo system remains just as tough as FF2, but it's more expansive, with more attack options. Also is the inclusion of desperation moves with are awesome attacks that need really complex joystick swinging to pull off.
Overall: FFS is a masterful piece of gaming. There are tons of classic characters to choose from. It's also a tough game to play. Special moves aren't of the generic fighting fare and some require tough button configurations to pull off. You can spend days trying to figure out how to use Mai's air dive to its most beneficial effect...and those desperation moves require not only flexible finger tapping but good timing as well. So just to get into the core of this game will take a lot of work for serious players. But once I got FFS down, I was having the time of my life. Even its line-sway system when worked properly can add a whole new level of strategy to the already loaded fighting options. I'll go as far to say that this game trumps Tekken's linear kick and punch mechanics and even the recent King of Fighters VII limited battle options. Give FFS a try and tell me what you think.
Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Product Release: Fatal Fury Special (US, 12/22/93)
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