Fatal Fury is Released
Fatal Fury (餓狼伝説, Garōu Densetsu, "Legend of the Hungry Wolf") is a fighting game series developed by SNK for the Neo Geo system.
Producers Takashi Nishiyama and Hiroshi Matsumoto, who were the producers of the series from Fatal Fury 3 and onward were the planners of the original Street Fighter (where they're credited as Piston Takashi and Finish Hiroshi). Matsumoto is also the creator of the Art of Fighting series.
The main fighting game feature that the original Fatal Fury was known for was the two-plane system. Characters would fight from two different planes, and by stepping between the planes, attacks could be dodged with ease. Later games dropped the two-plane system, replacing it with a complex system of dodging including everything from simple half second dodges into the background to a three plane system. Characters often had moves that could attack across the two planes, attack both planes at once, or otherwise attack characters attempting to dodge.
Later Fatal Fury games experimented with various mechanic changes. "Ring-outs", where a character loses the round if the character is thrown into the edges of the fighting backdrop; single-plane backdrops, where the element of dodging is eliminated altogether causing moves that sent opponents to the opposite plane to do collateral damage. The most successful of these gimmicks were the Deadly Rave and Just Defend. The Deadly Rave was a super combo used by several characters, where after execution, a player had to press a preset series of buttons with exact timing for the entire combo to execute. The Just Defend was a type of protected block in which players regain lost life, did not wear down the player's guard crush meter and removed all block stuns making combo interruptions smoother.
Regardless of cross-influence between Capcom and SNK (although there certainly was after 1991), Fatal Fury blazed the way for a system that became known (rightfully so or not) as "the fighting system." Before I move on the rest of the review, I want to share some other interesting trivia:
*Originally called Real Bout, SNK opted to change the title to Fatal Fury, (although the words Real Bout can be found everywhere in the game, and by its fourth sequel the game had changed to Real Bout Fatal Fury).
*The tournament in Fatal Fury is to determine the "King of Fighters." Apparently, this concept stuck with SNK...
*The cabbie driving the taxi that drops of Terry is the original SNK mascot, G-Mantle. I find this interesting because (take this as you will) I think its a symbolic "passing of the torch" to Terry as SNK's new mascot.
*In one of those moments that skirt copyright infringement, the folks at SNK seemed to have unwittingly drawn a corporate logo onto the Amusement Park level. Happy Star, the symbol for fast food giant Carl's Jr., is seen holding a sign that says "SNK Land." I assume the Japanese programmers had no idea of their coincidence for their own sake.
*Another odd coincidence: The Japanese Fatal Fury had some of the most amazing box art, the US version, some of the ugliest. Still boggles the mind to this day...
*The US box also has one of the most embarrassing typos in Neo Geo history: The game clocks in at 55 megs. The box even says 55 megs on the cover and spine of the insert. Yet on the back in the game description, it says "46 MEGS."
*In another internal contradiction. Raiden is spelled Riden in the manual, is called Riden by Geese Howard in a cut scene, and then is announced/spelled as Raiden in his match. No one ever said content is easy, I guess...
*According to the announcer in Fatal Fury, the pronunciation of "Billy Kane" is not as simple as it looks. Kane is actually pronounced "Khan." In the film industry, these are the types of mistakes that get the script supervisor fired.
*Fatal Fury was the first game to have two planes of battle (which ended up disappearing from the series).
*Finally, Fatal Fury was the first and only game that allowed both player one and player two gang up on the CPU opponent. Instead of instantly throwing the two players into a versus match, the game lets both fight the same opponent, then places the two hoodlums against one another to see who advances. Needless to say this gave the players a big advantage over their opponent and was never seen again in the series...