Fatal Fury: Battle Archives Vol. 2 Review
Compilations are a great way to familiarize yourself with a number of classics that you may have missed out on earlier on. Fighting game compilations, in particular, are some of the best, as they often feature some of the best entries from a specific series. Last August, SNK Playmore delivered Fatal Fury Battle Archives Volume 1, a compilation that consisted of the first four Fatal Fury entries. Now, if you've never played a Fatal Fury game before, it's best to describe the series' gameplay as a mixture of Street Fighter and Tekken.
Now, here's Fatal Fury Battle Archives Volume 2, a compilation consisting of the three Real Bout Fatal Fury games: "Real Bout Fatal Fury", "Real Bout Fatal Fury Special", "Real Bout Fatal Fury 2: The Newcomers". The importance behind this collection is that this is the first time ever that these three titles arrive to American gamers. Real Bout FF was ported to the Sega Saturn in Japan, and PSOne in Europe. Real Bout FF Special was only ported to the Saturn in Japan. And The Newcomers has, until today, been available only on the Neo-Geo.
All three games are ported straight from their Neo-Geo counterparts, which means no excessive gameplay modes. What you see is what you get. With the first Real Bout game, what you get is 16 characters, all of which who must face off against Geese Howard as the last boss. Real Bout FF Special boasts a larger collection of characters, 20 in total and re-introduces some fighters, as well as sporting overhauled visuals. The first two Real Bout games allow for three-plane fighting (upper, lower, middle), where as Real Bout FF2 brings the mechanic back to two-plane (upper, middle/standard). Real Bout FF2 also boasts a slightly larger character list of 22, in addition to improved balance in fighting mechanics.
Even though the games are straight ports of their originals, SNK Playmore has pieced together a Practice mode that you can enter and select which game you'd like to practice in - certainly a smart addition. On top of that, there's also a character setup option that allows you to alter the color appearance of fighters from all three games. Of course, an in-game command list can also be accessed by pausing the game, so if you'd like to break-free from a rudimentary playing pattern, the command list can help.
Visually, the game contains character sprites that are 10 and 12 years old, so you won't find yourself particularly impressed if you've been ogling over Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo HD, or even if you've been playing Guilty Gear games. Still, SNK Playmore has preserved the visuals and presented them in their original and truest form. If you're reading this, you most likely grew up playing arcade fighters with similar sprite quality, so this shouldn't bother you much. But it sure would be nice to see these games re-imagined in HD form.
As is the case with the visuals, the audio remains completely untouched for all three games. The game compilation boasts 94 tracks, all of which you can listen to through the main menu's Audio Setup screen. The rest of the audio contains the sound effects, which are largely made up of punches, kicks, and your fighter's voice when he/she pulls off a special.
This compilation is even better because not only does it offer three solid fighting games, it does it at a fantastic price point of only $20. SNK fans owe it to themselves to go out there and purchase a copy of this solid compilation, and relive fond memories playing three arcade classics. Fatal Fury Battle Archives Volume 2 is also in limited production, so don't expect to find a copy of the game readily available in the future - grab one now.
6/1/2008 Arnold Katayev