With tweaks to the controls and a refined version of the two-plane fighting system, Fatal Fury 2 was a big improvement over the first game in the series, but SNK clearly felt it could do better. Taking a leaf out of Capcom’s book, it went away, added in some stuff and came back with this updated version: Fatal Fury Special.
The game is - unsurprisingly - almost entirely the same as standard Fatal Fury 2; this is welcome news as that was a well put together game. This though is the superior version, and it makes that non-special edition a game to pass on Switch, unless you have a burning interest in seeing how the series subtly developed.
Changes include a small speed boost and the addition of more complex combos, both of which add to the brawling fun. Once you've figured some out, the combos in particular can prove to be incredibly satisfying when they turn around a fight you are involved in.
More noticeable is the increase in playable characters; true, it’s not the size of a King of Fighters lineup, but a significant increase over the previous version of the game, nonetheless. In addition to the standard eight fighters, the four bosses are now selectable - included Billy “eat my power pole” Kane and end bad guy Krauser. On top of this, three additional ruffians from the first game have also been added to the roster, including series overlord Geese Howard.
The inclusion of the extra characters means the game also features new stages; four to be precise, as SNK has also snuck in a hidden fighter. The stages are all as detailed as the previous ones, with Geese’s lavish battleground being a particular highlight. Mention should also be made of Duck King’s nightclub stage that features a strobing effect at the beginning of the fight. Perhaps worried that this might trigger epileptic fits, HAMSTER has kindly included an option in the settings to toggle this on/off (it’s off by default).
As is standard for an ACA release, there is the option to play the game in Caravan or High Score modes as you go looking to rack up points in a five minute time limit or with just the one credit. As usual, you can opt to play the Japanese version and in the various settings menus you will find the options common to these releases, such as remapping buttons, adding scanlines to the image and adjusting the game’s difficulty.
Adjusting the game’s challenge level is something you may well want to indulge in as it can be brutally tough at times, with the CPU opposition seeming to have an answer for everything you do. Even on the lower settings things can be tricky, and your opposition will often pounce on your smallest mistakes. Get to know the game and things become more manageable and enjoyable as you hop between planes to avoid attacks, jump back to get a sneaky hit in, and maybe unleash a killer combo.
As fun as the game can be, the challenge could be off-putting to people seeking a more relaxing way to learn the game. That said, a more relaxed way to play the game is to grab a friend and partake in some two-player fisticuffs. With a decent fighting system and good range of combatants means there's a lot of entertainment to be had here, with plenty of potential for "one more fight". Naturally, given the wide selection of Neo Geo fighting games already available on Switch, you have to balance this with the fact that titles like King of Fighters '98 and Samurai Shodown IV offer more advanced fighting mechanics for the same price.
Fatal Fury 2 looks and sounds great, has a good fighting system, is very enjoyable but you should absolutely not bother buying it. Why? Because Fatal Fury Special takes all that's good about it and adds in even more content. With flowing combos and a much larger fighting roster (for the same price), this is the version of the game to go for. The main arcade mode can be brutal, but there's lots of top-notch fighting action and two-player fights provide a lot of fun.