Fatal Fury: Battle Archives Volume 1 PS2 Review

Fatal Fury may have first arrived on the scene when the mighty Street Fighter II was still huge, but even so, the series’ historical significance should not be undermined. The Fatal Fury series was a precursor to SNK’s own beloved King of Fighters and had features which would become mainstays of that very series, and others that remain largely unique to it even in this advanced day-and-age. Fatal Fury: Battle Archives Volume 1 is a celebration of Fatal Fury’s fifteenth anniversary and the first four games have come to the party, well we could hardly celebrate without them now, could we?

Sadly, the party is lacking in presents, which is to say that just like SNK Playmore’s recent Art of Fighting Anthology there’s little in the way of extras to speak of and just generally not enough love for such cherished games. There’s a character colour edit option, which is a pleasant enough inclusion. There’s also the choice of original and arranged music, which is also nice. But such options do little to make up for the lack of more substantial extras such as interviews with the developers and informative history lessons. It’s a missed opportunity to love their loyal fans back and a huge disappointment to say the very least.

Moving on to the games.

The original game, Fatal Fury, has, in regards to basics, got all the essentials to make it a Fatal Fury game. It’s a three button fighter with a heavy reliance on QCF motions. The popular protagonist, Terry Bogard is there, as is the equally popular main baddie, Geese Howard. The arcade mode is hard, even on the default level of difficulty, something that SNK have become renowned for and not necessarily in a good way either.

In spite of its limited 2D nature, during fights, you’re able to shift between two planes to avoid your opponents attacks, which is a mechanic that would become a mainstay of the series, the backdrops are also pleasing and change in various ways in between rounds. Sadly, even though all the basics are in place, Fatal Fury is the weakest game in this collection. It’s mechanically sound, but with just three playable characters (consisting of brothers Terry and Andy Bogard and their friend Joe, two of which were to become KOF favourites), it’s far too limited.

Fatal Fury 2 was thankfully much better in this regard. The paltry character roster from the first game was bumped up to eight, some of which – such as the top heavy Mai and karate master Kim – were characters that were to become legends in KOF. Attacks also dealt significantly less damage, resulting in lengthier scraps.

Fatal Fury 2: Special is nothing more than a refined version of the former, which makes the inclusion of both of the games for this collection a rather strange one. Completists will no doubt be pleased to have them together on one disc though. Fatal Fury 2: Special is obviously the better of the two because of its refinements. It brought a host of new characters, all of the bosses from Fatal fury 2 became playable and also introduced to this sequel was token hard old guy: Tung Fu Rue, Duck King and the mean Geese Howard from Fatal Fury as well as Ryo Sakazaki from Art of Fighting (a game of which was set within the same universe) whose popularity for this crossover was said to have planted the seeds for the future KOF series.

Fatal Fury 3: Road to The Final Victory, the last game of the first series, is the most different of the lot. The engine was built from the ground up, resulting in a better looking and faster paced game. Shifting between different planes was also made more complex, this time with three planes as opposed to the two of previous games, which was somewhat controversial amongst fans.

Diehard fans of the Fatal Fury series will be delighted at the chance of having the entire first series of their beloved game all together snugly on a single disc for a bargain price of £20, even if one of them is far too limited, whilst another is just simply a refined version of another. The lack of extras on the disc on the other hand is a bit sad as the games inhabiting it are all good at the very least, and because of this they’re deserving of better treatment for their historical importance alone.