Although the original Fatal Fury was undoubtedly one of the best challengers to square up to Capcom’s Street Fighter 2, many would argue that SNK’s franchise didn’t really get into its stride until the sequel was released.
Improving on the first title in practically every way possible, Fatal Fury 2 was one of the first Neo-Geo games that really screamed quality and it actually managed to make SF2 look ordinary in many respects; the visuals, sound and animation were all arguably superior, and some might even contest that the gameplay was better, too.
The game builds on what was previously seen in the first Fatal Fury. Gone is the pitiful three character selection; this time you can play as any of the fighters. Terry, Andy and Joe all return, but they’re accompanied by a supporting cast that is packed with variety. Mai and Kim make their debuts, and both have gone on to become fan-favourites, crossing over to the King of Fighters series.
SNK really went to town when it came to making Fatal Fury 2 as innovative as possible. For example, it’s the first fighting game of this type to showcase dashing, with a quick double-tap of the pad swiftly sending your on-screen avatar in the desired direction. This alone makes fights more tactical and fast-paced.
The plain-switching which had been seen in the original game has also returned, but with a greater degree of tactical control being granted to the player. You can now switch plains at will, which proves especially useful when trying to avoid enemy projectile attacks.
In terms of visual presentation, Fatal Fury 2 still looks wonderful even today. The character sprites are detailed and well animated, with leading man Terry Bogard emanating so much coolness it’s little wonder that SNK otaku can always be seen wearing his trademark red cap.
Personally speaking, I always thought Fatal Fury 2 was a much cooler looking game than Street Fighter 2, and that certainly contributed to me pumping so much loose change into the coin-op when I was a nipper.
Ultimately though, you’d have to be pretty fanatical about the game (and SNK in general) to argue that it fights a better fight than Capcom’s classic. While the embellishments certainly add to proceedings, it never feels as tight and responsive as Street Fighter 2. Whereas Capcom’s title is perfectly constructed and balanced, it often feels like Fatal Fury 2 favours the original trio of fighters over the new cast members, with Terry being the perfect example.
A good Terry player can destroy practically any other character in the game, thanks to his large array of moves and general speed and agility. While it’s true that Street Fighter 2 possibly favoured Ryu and Ken users, it always seemed a bit more balanced and in the right hands, any of the SF2 cast could be deadly.
In summary, Fatal Fury 2 is a fantastic fighting game and is well worth a look, but don’t expect it to usurp Capcom’s legendary one-on-one fighter. It’s worth noting however that Fatal Fury Special effectively upstages this game and there’s every chance that it too will be coming to the Virtual Console, so if you’re unsure about picking this one up you might want to wait a while.