Review by discoinferno84

Reviewed: 09/12/07

I'm on the hunt, I'm after you...

Geese Howard is dead. Despite owning a vast criminal empire and the best bodyguards money could buy, the Southtown’s kingpin of crime got his ass kicked through his office window and splattered in the streets below. No one is mourning him, though; he had it coming. And who better to assassinate him than Terry Bogard, the fighting prodigy whose father was murdered by Geese? His brother Andy had a hand in vengeance as well. Joe Higashi, the Muay Thai champ and third wheel in the Bogard’s dynamic duo, knew better than to get in the way. It doesn’t really matter who got to land the final blow; Geese Howard is gone, and the Bogards can finally live peacefully…

…Until they get invited to the next fighting tournament. Turns out some throwaway villain named Wolfgang Krauser –who just happens to Geese’s half-brother – wants a piece of the Bogards before taking over the city. However, this new crusade won’t be through the urban wasteland of Southtown; Krauser has assembled the world’s greatest fighters (along with nearly all the opponents from the original Fatal Fury) and spread them across the world. Geese’s former personal luchador has ditched his mask, thus becoming Big Bear, the Ridiculously Oversized Australian Pro Wrestler. Duck King has moved from Southtown’s subways into the local dance club (thankfully without his parachute pants) and now boasts plenty of smooth moves. There are now three – yes, three - generic martial arts guys that nobody cares about, as well as a morbidly obese Tai Chi practitioner and a gigantic boxing dude. Then there’s Mai, the ninja femme fatale whose level of combat skills is rivaled only by the size of her breasts.

Yeah, you read that right. A female fighter that isn’t Chun Li! Thank the gaming gods for small favors. You’ll get to controls all of these characters – sans the old bosses and the select few oldies that were cut, of course – in your bid to become the world champ. Veterans of the first game now get to harness the Incredible Hulk-esque power of Tung Fu Rue and pretend that Michael Max is still the game via his master, Axel Hawk. Most fans, however, will take a liking to the games newcomers; Kim (aka Mr. Generic Korean Taekwondo champ) offers plenty of fast-paced kick combos for the willing player. If you’re not too busy drooling over her pixilated thighs, you’ll learn to appreciate Mai’s agility and fan-based attacks. Or you could just stick with old Terry (complete with his classic POWAAAH WAFE, among other special moves), his crazy-quick brother Andy, or abuse Joe’s Sliding Kick to get you through the game. But with playable character roster more than double the size of its predecessor, why limit yourself?

However, don’t assume that Fatal Fury 2 is all about spamming special moves. Unlike the first title, which only allowed you to perform a punch, kick, and throw, this game allows you perform plenty of regular attacks with varying degrees with strength. Can’t get in that devastating hook to the jaw? Try using a couple of quick jabs to knock your opponent off guard, then finish him off with a stronger combo. Fans of the original game will be quick to notice that the combat has been greatly sped up as well. Sluggish controls and infuriatingly slow moves have been upgraded for more fluid combat. Even the special move button commands seem to be more responsive, allowing you to perform Burning Knuckles, Hurricane Upper, and every other crazy move to your heart’s content. Accordingly, the game’s learning curve has been sharply increased as well; even though the attacks and priorities have been balanced out somewhat, you’ll likely get your ass handed to you in the first match.

Unfortunately, there is one aspect of the game that hasn’t been improved: the two-plane dodging system. The fighters are still able to leap further into the background, thus allowing them to avoid an oncoming attack or try to get a few spare seconds to recover. It also allows you to get in a few cheap jumping shots from the side, assuming that your opponent isn’t smart enough to block your attacks. But since both you and the computer can abuse the system easily, you’ll end up chasing each other all around the screen like a cat and mouse on steroids. Sure, you’ll catch up with them eventually (or vice versa), but the process can be tedious, if not mind-numbingly dull. But considering how aggressive the computer can be, you probably won’t have to wait long before you start trading blows.

Even though the dodging mechanics haven’t changed, the game spices things up by including breakable objects between the two planes. Youu’ll have to bust through wooden screen to get at the local kung fu master, smack Billy Kane into thegears of a giant clock, and even break the occasional barrel of statue that gets in your way. The game takes things a step further whisking you away to a bunch of remarkably detailed and dynamic fighting arenas. The gritty slums of Southtown are a thing of the past; you’ll have to take down Terry while balancing on the back of a South Dakota-bound train, smack Andy around Venetian waterway (decorative arches and gondolas aplenty), see the Duck King breakdance his way through a neon nightclub, and watch Mai pole-dance her scantily clad body around a wooden raft adrift in some river. What? I’m not kidding. Cool backgrounds aside, the quick animations and somewhat more detailed character sprites make the game look far better than its predecessor.

Well, what do you know? It is possible for a gaming company to learn from their mistakes and produce better quality titles! Fatal Fury 2 is huge improvement over the original. The selection of playable characters has been nearly tripled – not that you’ll care much for half of them anyway – granting you far more gameplay options and strategies. The game is far longer and more challenging as well; what was once a minor scuffle between a couple of brothers and crime lord has now turned into a worldwide brawl that rivals even Street Fighter II. Implementing more standard attacks and streamlining the special moves was a welcome change as well, even if the dodging mechanics are still abusable. But hey, things could be worse; this could have been Art of Fighting all over again.

Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Product Release: Fatal Fury 2 (US, 03/05/93)

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