A little behind the times…
It seems like no sooner can you say a simple phrase like “financial crisis” and the most commercial time of the year is upon us once more. With Christmas just around the corner, the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 have declared retail warfare on each other, both armed with an impressive arsenal showcasing seductively sharp graphics and soul-enrapturing gameplay.
But with a new generation upon us, what could the Playstation 2 possibly release to prove it’s still a contender? What could be its secret weapon?
Well, how about a compilation of the old SNES and Mega Drive Fatal Fury games?
Nonetheless, let’s take a look.
Now, if the beat ’em up genre was a grand banquet, with Soul Calibur IV at the centre of the table as a visually tempting and addictively tasty dessert tray, Fatal Fury must have been the bread basket; plain, simple, and you only indulge because there’s nothing better.
Yeah. Turns out I’d misread the name.
With as buttons to press as there are playable characters (three to be exact) don’t expect to be pulling any impressive combos. Instead, enjoy your punch, enjoy your kick, and savour the fact they even threw a grapple in there.
Though, despite its simplicity, the game does have a couple of unique features. It’s the first to use a two-plane battle system, allowing you to jump between background and foreground for a different fighting strategy. And you need every bit of help you can get, considering the game’s other unique feature is that every opponent you fight is supremely stronger than you!
It’s almost like the computer has slipped a couple of cheats their way as they hurl all manner of fireballs and tornadoes at you whilst you’re still trying to prod them with a measly right hook (and no, there are no more buttons to follow that up with a left). Fortunately, the game does arm you with a few, albeit weaker, special moves of your own, but you’ll be lucky to actually pull one off, and even luckier if the computer forgets to block.
And this is on easy mode!
But, if all else fails, there is another method to help even the odds.
At any time, a second player can join in, severely over-tipping the balance in your favour. The catch is you’ll then have to fight your buddy in a Double Dragon-esque showdown, even though it makes about as much sense as a Dairy Milk advert.
To summarise, there was only one moment when I was genuinely excited by the game, and that was when I believed my next opponent was Hollywood star and pink-lycra fanatic, Billy Kane!
Yeah. Turns out I’d misread the name.
FATAL FURY 2
Inevitably, things could only get better. On the surface Fatal Fury II may look a little like Street Fighter’s dorky younger brother, yet with 8 characters to choose from, full use of the joypad buttons, and no more David v Goliath style battles, it’s still a great improvement on its predecessor.
The fights are a lot more fluid and there are some extra special moves to showcase the improved graphics. Though, on a side note, I’m still boggled by this link between obesity and fire-breathing that appeared in so many of these early games. If this were really a fact of life, America would certainly be a more interesting place!
Unfortunately, this game is still unusually challenging. Perhaps it would be a little easier if it were actually possible to unleash each character’s individual super special move, but it surely takes some kind of bone-breaking kama sutra for the fingers to pull off one of those combinations.
Instead, the silver lining must be the different stage settings, which are sympathetically pleasing to the eye if you do find yourself stuck in one location for a while. Rather than static environments, you could find yourself riding a train past Mount Rushmore, or facing a showdown in a bull ring populated by plenty more bulls you’d ever expect to see in reality.
And if you persevere, your reward is the game’s climax: a dramatic manor showdown with perhaps one of the most sinister villains ever seen in this genre. Just don’t assume it’s all building up to an impressive ending sequence.
You will be disappointed.
FATAL FURY SPECIAL
For information about Fatal Fury Special, please see above.
Yes, it’s an exact copy of the second game; same levels, similarly tripe ending. But as a bonus, you can finally play as each of those villains who had you bashing your pad against the wall during the last two games. And with close to coin-op gameplay, I’d have been more tempted to leave Fatal Fury 2 off the DVD and just use this.
Though I’d like to point out, when fighting in Australia watch for the scantily clad man in the background who seems to be getting a little over-excited by the sheep standing next to him.
Wish I could’ve jumped back just one more plane to find out what the hell was going on there!
While the story of the first 3 games was your typical ‘there’s a tournament and the boss has been a bit naughty’, Fatal Fury 3 tried something different. This time you’re fighting to uncover some ancient scrolls. Translated, that means another fighting tournament but, between rounds, someone occasionally says, “scroll”.
Like I said, they ‘tried’ something different.
Nonetheless, this is the game Fatal Fury was supposed to be. Yes, 3 games later and they finally got there, people.
Ten characters, the most impressive gameplay, and greater control over the trademark two-plane fighting system. And, whilst on first glance the stage settings may be a little more basic, they actually become more lively the more rounds you play, with crowds, voodoo dancers or perhaps the odd helicopter coming to watch if you end up fighting into the night.
Yet, still be prepared for a stupidly challenging game. You may enjoy the first few rounds but, even on beginner, you’ll be imprinting more joypad-shaped holes in your bedroom wall by the end.
Overall, this compilation is rather pointless. Four of the same game on one disc, and ultimately it’ll suffer from what I’m going to call the Tekken effect. What I mean is, you could have all six Tekken games on your shelf at the moment, but how often is it anyone goes back to playing the first one?
If you’re in the mood for some good one-on-one ass-kicking, Fatal Fury 3 is the game you’ll play the most out of the four, and that’s only if you manage to overlook all the ‘Tekken’s, ‘Dead or Alive’s, and ‘Soul Calibur’s that you also own.
It’s only if you’re a hardcore retro fan that you’ll strain any lasting excitement from this disc. And, not being one myself, there is something in the title itself that I find deeply concerning:
‘Battle Archive Volume 1’?
There’s going to be more!?
The Bad: Stupidly challenging, repetitive, and out of the four games you’re only likely to enjoy the final chapter.