Fatal Fury series
Retro Coin Op Synopsis
There’s nothing worse in the fighting world than getting beaten to the punch. SNK felt that pain in 1991 when a little Capcom title called Street Fighter II entered the marketplace. As you all know, the Capcom game went on to conquer the video game world, spawning more sequels and clones than any game before it. And somewhere deep in the offices of SNK, some poor executive cried. As the world soon learned, the company had been working on a one-on-one fighting title of its own, Fatal Fury.
By the time the SNK game came out, Street Fighter II already had a death grip on the industry, and Fatal Fury merely looked like the first in a long line of pretenders to the throne. But never fear; this story does have a happy ending. Thanks to some unique gameplay, catchy music and lots of persistence, Fatal Fury managed to become a franchise of its own, with eight sequels to date.
The basics of Fatal Fury were much like those of Street Fighter II, albeit with fewer buttons. “Punch,” “kick” and “throw” were all you needed to know to pound your opponent into a helpless jelly. Each character had a few special attacks that could be executed with a series of joystick and button moves, but nothing too complicated.
The storyline sent Joe Higashi and brothers Terry and Andy Bogard to South Town for the King of Fighters tournament, where the Bogards hoped to find the man responsible for killing their father. To get to him, however, the fighters had to battle their way through seven other expert baddies. The first four—Duck King, transforming old man Tung Fu Rue, Richard Myer and boxer Michael Max—could be taken in any order, but from then on, the chain of command was clear. Martial artist Hwa Jai led to masked wrestler Raiden, then to British punker Billy Kane and to the big boss man himself, Geese Howard. Unfortunately, of these eleven characters, only Joe, Terry and Andy were playable, even in two-player mode.
So far, Fatal Fury doesn’t sound much different than Street Fighter II, but the SNK game did have a few tricks up its sleeve. First up was the cooperative/competitive two-player game. If one gamer was having a tough time beating a foe, a second player could join the fight, giving an unfair advantage to Terry, Andy and Joe. Once the computer-controlled villain was down, however, the two human players had to face off to see who moved on.
Another feature that set Fatal Fury apart from the pack was its unique line system. Unlike the straight-line dynamics of other fighters, Fatal Fury allowed players to shift into the background to avoid a blow, or even to pull off a sneak attack on the way back to the fray.
The new features weren’t enough to take the crown from Street Fighter II, but they did help Fatal Fury build a fan base all its own. Sequels arrived nearly every year, starting with Fatal Fury 2 in 1992. The new game upped the number of selectable players to eight, but that was only the start of its surprises. Perhaps the most compelling innovation was the new “desperation move,” a last-ditch weapon that allowed good gamers to battle back from a near-defeat. When a character’s lifebar began flashing red (meaning the fighter was nearly beaten), that player could execute an extremely powerful special move, giving him or her a bit of breathing room before trying to stage a comeback. The desperation moves were usually tough to pull off, but at least they gave everyone a fighting chance.
After Fatal Fury Special (which added even more characters), the next real advancement came in 1995’s Fatal Fury 3: Road to Final Victory. Players could now “sway” to either a backline or a foreline, in addition to the primary middle line. With three separate planes of fighting, Fatal Fury 3 was one of the more advanced 2-D fighters of its time.
Three Real Bout Fatal Fury sequels followed, again altering the character lineup and changing the lifebars to two overlaid meters, eliminating the round system. In 1998, the series joined the 3-D revolution with its eighth installment, Fatal Fury: Wild Ambition. The line movement and desperation moves remained intact, ensuring that longtime fans would still easily recognize this as a Fatal Fury title.
The series closed out the 1990’s with Fatal Fury: Mark of the Wolves, the ninth installment in as many years. Fatal Fury may not have made it to the arcades first, but its amazing legacy proves that this SNK franchise will never be an also-ran.
Arcade Machine Release History1991 - Fatal Fury
1992 - Fatal Fury 2
1993 - Fatal Fury Special
1995 - Fatal Fury 3: Road to Final Victory
1995 - Real Bout Fatal Fury
1996 - Real Bout Fatal Fury Special
1997 - Real Bout Fatal Fury 2: The Newcomers
1998 - Fatal Fury Wild Ambition
1999 - Fatal Fury: Mark of the Wolves