Art of Fighting series
Retro Coin Op Synopsis
The one-on-one fighting revolution was still in its infancy when SNK released Art of Fighting in 1992, but a few basic standards had been established—life bars, special moves, selectable characters, etc. Art of Fighting took these elements, added a few of its own and created a new hit franchise.
The storyline couldn’t have been simpler: Karate fighter Ryo Sakazaki’s cute kid sister Yuri had been kidnapped, and to get her back, he and buddy Robert Garcia had to fight their way through eight one-on-one battles against an international assemblage of street fighters. Martial artist Ryuhaku Todoh, low-class muscleman Jack Turner, mad doctor Lee Pai Long, the androgynous King, boxer Mickey Rogers, military psycho John Crowley, bald businessman Mr. Big and masked man Mr. Karate all stood between you and Yuri, and all held secrets to her whereabouts that they would only give up if you beat it out of them.
The one-player game only allowed control of Ryo or Robert, since the rest were all clearly bad guys. In two-player mode, however, everyone except Mr. Big and Mr. Karate were fair game.
The Art of Fighting panel held four buttons for each player, but not the ones you might be expecting. “Punch,” “Kick,” and “Strong” (a more powerful attack) were all easy enough to understand, but Art of Fighting also sported a little button labeled “Taunt.” This unusual option was part of the “Chi” system, one of several features that distinguished this game from other fighters on the market. Each Art of Fighting character had a handful of special moves, but these could only be executed by building up the “Chi Meter,” located beneath the players’ life bars. Chi could be charged up by holding down any attack button, but it could also be drained by (you guessed it) a clever taunt from your opponent.
All taunting aside, Art of Fighting’s other major selling point was its “zoom in” graphics. The characters were much larger than Street Fighter II’s line-up, and when the combatants went in for close combat, the screen magnified to show even more detail. The bigger graphics also allowed the players to show the effects of their street fight, as bruises and gashes appeared on their faces and bodies as the battle wore on.
Art of Fighting may not have been the worldwide smash that Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat were, but it was a success in its own right. Two sequels followed in 1993 and 1996. Art of Fighting 2 allowed players more character options in one-player mode, as well as the customary addition of more characters overall (including Yuri Sakazaki, no longer a helpless kid sister). Art of Fighting 3: The Path of the Warrior introduced motion capture animation to the series, following in the path that Mortal Kombat had helped blaze.
The Art of Fighting series came to a close after the third installment, but several characters still had a lot of fight left in them. SNK obliged their violent urges by transporting them over to its highly successful King of Fighters series, where the face-smacking and fireball-throwing began anew.
Arcade Machine Release History1992 - Art of Fighting
1994 - Art of Fighting 2
1996 - Art of Fighting 3