Last year, around August to be exact, SNK Playmore released a compilation of Fatal Fury games entitled Fatal Fury Battle Archives Vol 1. The name, and the fact that several Fatal Fury games were lacking from the very nice compilation indicated that at least a second volume was on the way. This is indeed the case, and we've recently received Battle Archives Vol 2 in for review. Volume 2 features Real Bout Fatal Fury, Real Bout Fatal Fury Special, and Real Bout Fatal Fury 2 The Newcomers. Packaged in the same fashion as other SNK compilation releases, complete with an excellent low price, and packed with three of SNK's best, this is another set that fighter fans cannot miss.
Exploring the Archive
I hadn't played much Fatal Fury in the past, Mark of the Wolves on Dreamcast was what I had most of my experience through but I had gotten familiar with a lot of Fatal Fury characters through the King of Fighters series. I've always liked Joe Higashi and Kim Kaphwan, a Muay Thai fighter and a champion Tae Kwon Do fighter, respectively. That said, I began with Real Bout Fatal Fury, which as I've read on the internet continues the story of Fatal Fury 3. According to what I've read, in the end of Real Bout, you will face the infamous Geese Howard for the final time. I struggle quite a bit with SNK 2D fighters; I have yet to get to the end of this one. Real Bout Fatal Fury Special is sort of an in between game whose claim to fame is just reintroducing older characters back from earlier Fatal Fury games. Lastly, Real Bout Fatal Fury 2 The Newcomers sported the slickest visuals of the series and introduced two new characters, Li Xiangfei and Rick Strowd.
I think most fighter fans have played a Fatal Fury game at some point. The three games in this compilation are fairly straight-forward to understand. Each battle consists of a best of three series between you and a friend or the CPU. Each character has two life lines, so battles tend to last longer than you might expect, but that isn't always the case; the CPU can bust out some punishing combos which I have a difficult time trying to do myself. As with other SNK Playmore compilations on the PS2, the Pause Menu displays character move lists and allows you to exit out to the Title Screen to change games. Having the Skill List so handy is great, but it still doesn't make performing the special moves and combos with any consistency (or at all) any easier. As with nearly all older fighting games like these, executing diagonal and half circle d-pad movements is a real pain. That's one thing I really wish SNK could have somehow simplified in these re-releases -- making the combos and special moves easier to perform.
Without being able to execute special moves and combos, at all or at least consistently, it really makes the game a lot more difficult. With unlimited Continues and fast load times, it's still a very fun and addictive game, but I've spent thirty minutes on a single character before, just trying to beat them. Bosses, including the Jin's, as I called them, Chonrei and Chonshu, seem to come early and could put a damper on your journey to the top. In fact, I have yet to beat any of these three games, but I still enjoy them very much.