What with this, Samurai Showdown, Fatal Fury and World Heroes, the Virtual Console is certainly going to have its fair share of one-on-one fighters!
Art of Fighting was another attempt by SNK to usurp Capcom’s Street Fighter 2 from the position of ‘best 2D fighter’ back in the early ‘90s. Again, SNK have shamelessly stolen plenty of ideas from the aforementioned brawler. Moves are near identical and the characters share many traits, too.
Graphically Art of Fighting is undeniably impressive. The gigantic sprites possess fluid animation and plenty of expression. The screen zooms in and out smoothly in order to keep track of the action. Faces become bruised when the battle becomes heated – a particularly neat touch. The backgrounds are also of a high standard and there are some lovely (but stupidly scripted) intermission scenes as well. It also displays many features that were new to the genre at the time, such as ‘spirit gauges’, taunting and ‘super moves’.
Sadly the game is rather let down by the fact that you can only play as one of two characters in single-player mode (all the fighters are available when playing against another human opponent). The speed of the game is also rather sluggish, especially when compared to the nippy Street Fighter 2 Turbo, which was released at roughly the same time. The scope for fast-paced combos is limited almost from the outset and the game merely becomes a battle of who can hurl the most fireballs before the time limit expires.
Art of Fighting attracted lots of attention when it was first released thanks largely to the visuals. Although it still looks great, the gameplay is far too limited to make it worth playing these days, regardless of the innovative features. Our advice is to avoid this rather average fighter and concentrate on Samurai Showdown or Street Fighter 2 – they’re far more worthy of your time and money.
On a side note, Capcom took issue with the character designs in Art of Fighting and subsequently created ‘Dan’, a lame character who first appeared in Street Fighter Zero/Alpha. Dan is a cross between the two leads of Art of Fighting – Ryo and Robert, and has pathetically useless special moves, such as a fireball that only flies about three feet before fizzling out – just like Ryo’s in Art of Fighting. Who says game developers don’t have a sense of humour?