By Tibe

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The accessibility of Street Fighter II made it a worldwide success, and it's not this 'Super' version that will make me lie. Fatal Fury Special on the other hand, is the second game of the of Fatal Fury series to offer a great alternative to Capcom's fighting games: Fatal Fury 2 tried hard to dethrone the Turbo version in 1992, and it failed like its big brother Fatal Fury, the first game. In these latest FF, gameplay became radically different from SSFII: more complex, more technical, more difficult! Professional hardwares such as CPS-II and MVS are two pixel-eater monsters back in 1993. Capcom's, born in 1993, benefits a slight superiority in terms of resolution (384x224 against 320x224), and the ability to display more sprites simultaneously on the screen (900 against 380). The number of displayable colors is the same for both: 4096. The MVS have for advantage more video memory, a larger storage capacity, as well as a smarter sound processor. 


Capcom's hit features awesome 'comics' graphics, harmonious and colorful, with differential scrollings and a remarkable relief effect. The fighters' sprites are beautiful and of good size, most have received a few changes since Street Fighter II Turbo. However, a few stages sometimes lack depth and life. I'm thinking about backgrounds such as Ken's and its desperately still sea, Dhalsim's unconvincing elephants or for example Vega's (M. Bison with us), too symmetrical and rather bland. In addition, stages and sprites have little changed since 1991, while the rival has made tremendous progress. So what's new about SNK's soft? When you talk about pixel art, Fatal Fury Special is a worthy representative. Presentation and stages are lavish, sprites detailed and slightly larger than those of SSFII. The sets of May, Tung, Terry and Billy - to name a few - are models of beauty and finesse graphics. Specifically rich and animated, the sixteen stages of the game are absolutely outstanding. In the end, that's a bit thinner and colorful than Capcom's production, more dynamic for the backgrounds, with characters that are larger... but anyway, the job is done for both competitors. One more point for FFS: the stages are changing. You fight at different times of the day (morning, evening, night...) which is a nice detail.

FATAL FURY SPECIAL ................ 96%



First, we can see that animation of both games is decomposed and relatively fast - at least, among what was done best in that era. FFS seems a bit more nervous, more dynamic than its competitor (which will correct this with the Turbo version). The characters' moves are both decomposed and smooth for the two competitors. Backgrounds, some are laborious in SSFII, such as Dhalsim's anemic elephants, but other ones rich and well-animated like DeeJay's or Balrog's (Spain). Fatal Fury, not to mention changing and/or moving stages (Terry, Andy, Billy) is more alive with the backgrounds. The soil is '3D' animated in Capcom's baby, a very nice point, a detail that is absent from the Fatal Fury series. Crucially, the characters animations has remained largely unchanged since Street Fighter II, while SNK provided great work since Fatal Fury 2, allowing FFS to outperform its rival.

FATAL FURY SPECIAL ................ 93%



Capcom takes advantage of the new CPS-II sound chips over CPS, and if global quality is slightly lower than the Neo Geo, the themes are devilishly inspired. The quality is greatly improved with the new hardware. Fatal Fury Special offers friendly and catchy themes such as Terry's folk music, Cheng's Asian arrangements, Tung's zen music... not to mention the great Dies Irae of Krauser. Sound effects determine the sensations in a fighting game, especially the famous 'ouch factor' with impact noises. SSFII provides powerful sound effects, varied and well adapted to the violence of the blows. Those are a bit less violent than in previous SF games. For cons, the vocals have reached a higher quality. Sound effects and ambient sounds are not to be outdone, though sometimes mixed (elephants, background noises). MVS is honored with Fatal Fury Special: sound of blows, made of dozens different sounds, are powerful and provide excellent sensations, different from Capcom's ones. The sound effects in the stages (waterfalls, train, running of the bulls) are sublime, and the voices simply breathtaking.

FATAL FURY SPECIAL ................ 94%



Time has shown how these VS Ffighting were fun to play with friends, so what about 1P modes? The point goes to Street Fighter here. Indeed, the single player action is more interesting than in Fatal Fury Special. First, the fighting monotony is broken by sympathic bonus stages (three in total). Fatal Fury 2 had bonus stages, too bad that SNK has decided to remove them for this episode. In addition, the CPU is a real junk in Fatal Fury Special. The single player sets an ignominious difficulty level, very off-putting for novice players. SSF2 is not "easy", but the difficulty level is more fair. There's sixteen characters in both games, it's a remarkable quantity for 93' productions. And now,  what about the versus here? FFS deep gameplay provides new discoveries long enough to keep you going! Furies & combos you have to master, winks in certain settings at certain times, technical play... SSFII is a treat for VS action too, its mechanics standing for more basic and accessible. At SNK's, it's a complex and wide gameplay we're facing, which requires a longer learning. The sixteen characters of the two rivals are roughly balanced - for the time - and virtually all interesting to play. In the end, we have a well-balanced difficulty in SSFII, that makes you come back for more, against a challenging FFS, as it will take you to beat all opponents without losing a single round to face Ryo Sakazaki, the guest star.

FATAL FURY SPECIAL ................ 93%



Fatal Fury Special is using four buttons (two power levels for punch and kick + button combinations), while Street Fighter uses six (three levels for kick, three levels for punch). If the six buttons system seems sexy, it's not always appropriate nor intuitive. The four buttons offer a more responsive and instinctive play. Street offers a quick start, but Fatal Fury is clearly the richest, with its huge technical depth. Capcom's hit is no less interesting, it's just the scope for growth which is greater in Fatal Fury. The Furies, achievable when your energy bar is low, allow to reverse desperate situations! The combos, now available in SNK series, catches up against its rival. The fight on two planes, if it provides a certain fun to the game, does not prove important in terms of pure gameplay, except to dodge projectiles or break up. In addition, the characters have more moves in FFS: sidesteps, crouching walk, switching plan, counter attacks... Street sits on what is its strength: simplicity. 

FATAL FURY SPECIAL ................ 96%



The improvements are huge since the first Fatal Fury. SNK has achieved a mammoth work to reach its rival's level. On its side, Capcom rested on its laurels since the legendary Street Fighter II. We were offered certainly good sequels, but featuring only few changes. Sixteen characters on one side, same number on the other one... Two rich gameplay, sumptuous realizations... Remember that we are still in 1993! Competition is clearly jettisoned and the two series set the quality level pretty high. So to conclude, I would simply say that this year is marking a milestone for the Neo Geo. SNK managed to become a major company in the versus fighting world with Fatal Fury Special, along with its contender Capcom and its latest achievement: Super Street Fighter II.






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