Review: Fatal Fury Special (Neo Geo)

Is it really all that special?

There's no question that Fatal Fury 2 was quite a step up in quality from the original, but it seems SNK still wasn't completely satisfied with the game and decided to release an upgrade in the form of Fatal Fury Special. Rather than start from scratch, they basically took Fatal Fury 2, added in the ability to play as the four boss characters, increased the game's playing speed a bit, and introduced an all-new combo system and turned an already-playable arcade fighter into a much more in-depth and finely-tuned one-on-one fighting experience. Of course now the question is, will this upgrade be enough incentive for Fatal Fury 2 owners to get excited about and put out their hard-earned Wii Points to purchase.

Not much has changed with the basic gameplay of Fatal Fury Special and upon first glance, you'd swear you were still playing Fatal Fury 2. The characters are all the same, as are most of the backdrops you'll spend your time doing battle in, but once you start executing your characters normal move set at a much quicker and more streamlined pace, you'll begin to see the advantages of the new combo system. Now instead of going after your opponents one move at a time, you can string together combos that will be extremely difficult for your opponent to defend against, especially if you continue to mix them up. Of course your special moves are all still at your disposal as well for those times when you need to lay out a heavier beat down.

The added ability to play as the four boss characters from Fatal Fury 2 is almost enough incentive alone to purchase this upgrade, but toss in the combo system and the added playing speed and you have a fairly impressive step up in overall quality, especially considering that this isn't a brand new title. The play control is still as smooth as ever, maybe even more so with the added ability to string combos together. The end result is basically a game that was already a solid fighter now transformed into one of the better Neo Geo fighting titles and a game that fans of the series will most likely find worth the price of admission.

SNK was obviously happy with Fatal Fury 2 from a visual standpoint, so much so that very little was changed in this updated release. All of the brightly-colored backdrops return and look as amazing as ever. There are a few bland areas here and there, but for the most part the game's visual quality shines and offers some nice eye candy to take in while you're pummeling your many opponents.

Much like the visuals, SNK didn't do much to the audio in the game and in all honesty, there wasn't much need to anyway. The musical score of Fatal Fury 2 was already rock solid and a great compliment to the game's impressive graphical presentation. The announcer in the game is fairly clear, especially from this time period where many were so muffled that it was often difficult to even understand what they were saying. It would seem that SNK decided to focus on the areas of the game that needed work and leave well enough alone with those that didn't and it really paid off in the finished product.

Conclusion

It's always a tough sell when a company releases the equivalent of an upgrade but chooses to release it in the form of an all-new title. Having said that, the upgrades offered in Fatal Fury Special are more than enough to warrant having to purchase a new game on the Virtual Console service and will definitely be worth it for long-time fans of the series who are looking for a slightly more modern gameplay edge to their one-on-one fighting experience. No matter the case, Fatal Fury Special is hands-down one of the best releases in the series and a title that no fighting game fan should miss out on.