Back in the day, the power of the Neo Geo meant that SNK was the first publisher to release home console games that were over 100 Mb in size (that’s megabits, so around 12.5 MB). It commemorated this by launching the 100-Mega Shock series, which basically involved slapping a lovely splash screen at the start of any game that passed this 100 meg threshold. The first 100-Mega Shock game was The Art Of Fighting, but the second – proudly declaring ‘106 Megs’ on its cover – was Fatal Fury 2, which is now available on Switch.
Of course, the irony is that these days it’s more impressive to make a game that’s smaller than 12.5 MB, so it’s safe to say Fatal Fury 2 has to offer more than an outdated gimmick to impress today’s gamers. It doesn’t quite manage to do this as well as other Neo Geo fighters on the Switch, but that’s not to say it’s a complete write-off.
The original Fatal Fury was SNK’s first ever Neo Geo fighting game, and the sequel attempts to build on it in every way. Whereas the first game gave you a measly three fighters to choose from, its successor ramps that up to eight, with newcomers including SNK favourites Mai and Kim.
It also overhauls the control system, allowing for more varied combat. Gone are the first game’s three buttons (punch, kick and throw), and replacing them are more conventional light and heavy punches and kicks, making the game more approaching for anyone wandering over from that Capcom fighter SNK daren’t ever mention.
One thing that does carry over from the first Fatal Fury is the two-plane fighting system. This unique mechanic lets you jump between the foreground and background, allowing you to dodge enemy attacks and spring your own counter-attacks on them. In the original game you could only do this by sending your opponent into the other plane with a strong attack, but this time players are able to freely jump between planes at will. This is an acquired taste: many feel that it breaks up the flow of the combat and can lead to annoying dodge-offs where players just leap back and forth between planes trying to catch each other.
As ever, the game is presented with Hamster Corporation’s standard ACA Neo Geo frontend. You get to choose between the Japanese and European versions of the game and mess around with the arcade version’s settings menu. Screen filters are present and accounted for, and the standard High-Score and Caravan modes are there too (and just as pointless as they are in the other fighting games Hamster’s re-released).
Fatal Fury 2’s main problem is one that isn’t really its fault: it isn’t 1992 anymore. At the time of its release it was a legit alternative to Street Fighter II: although Capcom’s game generally felt better to play and offered a greater deal of strategy, Fatal Fury 2 had significantly better character animations, more detailed environments and generally had an edge that made it the cooler game to play. The Sonic to Street Fighter’s Mario, if you will.
That was then, though. Over the years that followed the novelty of a 100-meg game was quickly overshadowed by a steady stream of progressively better fighters on the Neo Geo, including the entire King Of Fighters series. Fatal Fury 2’s eight character roster may have been enough back then, but look at something like The King Of Fighters 98, also on Switch, which offers nearly 40 fighters and looks and sounds much better for the same price.
Above all else, there’s another game on Switch that makes buying Fatal Fury 2 a questionable exercise: Fatal Fury Special. This was an enhanced version, which introduced new features like greater speed and a combo system, and also nearly doubled the playable character roster to 15 fighters. With Fatal Fury Special now also on the Switch eShop for the same price, you could argue that it’s sheer madness to buy the game it essentially replaced.
Fatal Fury 2 isn’t a bad game in its own right. It’s a decent fighter, and although the plane-jumping mechanic is clunky, it should keep you entertained. The problem is, it’s made completely obsolete with the presence of Fatal Fury Special on the eShop, further proving that Hamster Corporation’s scattergun approach to randomly releasing Neo Geo games is getting confusing. If you're a hardcore Fatal Fury fan and want to experience the entire lineage, then by all means, give this a download - you're unlikely to be disappointed. However, everyone else should check out the King Of Fighters games for a more comprehensive Neo Geo fighting experience on Switch, or, if there's an absolute need for a Fatal Fury game, get Special instead.