Fatal Fury FI

SNES A Day 168: Fatal Fury

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Approximate Release Date: April 1, 1993
Genre: Fighting
Developer: SNK
Publisher: Takara

SNK’s Fatal Fury is a tremendously disappointing port to the Super Nintendo.

Every SNES fighting game of this era is going to be compared to Street Fighter II: The World Warrior. That may be unfair, given that it’s one of the most revolutionary games of all time. Yet competing fighting games need to give you a reason to look for something different. Other games need to tell and show players how they are better or even different than Street Fighter II. There needs to be an immediate hook.

I don’t know why you’d play Fatal Fury. The superior Neo Geo version of the game tries some novel tricks, like the ability to fight in the foreground and background and even attempting to flesh out the genre’s usual barebones narrative. All of that has been stripped out in the SNES version, though it still looks nice.

What is in this version isn’t compelling. There are three playable characters in Fatal Fury‘s single player mode, which is awfully limiting. Terry Bogard is the classical Ryu-equivalent, and seems to have the best mix of special moves. The other two fighters are fine, but I never got the hang of them.

Even more distressing than the lack of characters to play as is how the opponents are actually interesting and novel for the most part. Sure, there’s a fighter that is a clear Balrog analog, but there’s also a character that has a move that transforms him from a tiny monk to a hulking beast and another that is a giant pro wrestler. It’s too bad those sparks of originality couldn’t apply to the playable characters, though these fighters are available in Fatal Fury‘s two-player mode. I assume they’ve been toned down a bit, since they seem overpowered in the main mode.

There’s something weird with the controls going on, though. The game doesn’t feel very responsive. Sometimes I would press a button to jump or block and my character would just stand there. Punches and kicks are similarly laggy, and there were more than a few times playing Fatal Fury that an attack that seems to have connected with my opponent didn’t count. It’s maddening, and saps all the energy from the game. The default difficulty level is quite challenging, too, so be sure to turn it down if you pop the game in to try it.

Fatal Fury would eventually be mashed together with a few other SNK games to create the fantastic The King of Fighters series of fighting games, but it’s hard to imagine playing this version that a great fighting game series would find its genesis here.

Tomorrow: Can Cybernator out-Contra Contra?

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