Fatal Fury Special 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, is superior in terms of resolution (384x224 against 320x224), and has 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.
SSFII's sprites are beautiful and of good size, some have been slightly redrawn since Street Fighter II Turbo. If the most of the backgrounds are nice, a few stages nonetheless lack depth and life. I'm thinking about Ken's place and its desperately immobile sea, Dhalsim's sick elephants or Vega's hideout, symmetrical and bland. Stages and sprites have little changed since 1991, while the rival has made tremendous progress. In FFS 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 - use amazing graphics. Rich and dynamic, the sixteen stages of the game are absolutely outstanding. In the end, that's a bit thinner and colorful than Capcom's 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.
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First, we can see that animation of both games is decomposed and relatively fast. FFS seems a bit more nervous, more dynamic than its competitor (which will correct this with the Turbo version). The characters' moves are 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 lively. The soil is '3D' animated in Capcom's soft, 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.
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Fatal Fury Special
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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. SSFII provides powerful sound effects, varied and well adapted to the violence of the blows. 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.
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The point goes to Street Fighter for the story/1P mode. First, the fighting monotony is broken by sympathic bonus stages (three in total). In addition, the CPU is a real junk in Fatal Fury Special. The single mode sets an ignominious difficulty level, very off-putting for novice players. 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. SNK's, game features a complex and wide gameplay, 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.
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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). The four buttons system offers a more responsive and instinctive play. Street allows any player a quick start, but Fatal Fury is clearly the richest game. Capcom's hit is no less interesting, it's just the scope for growth 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 game, catches up against its rival. The fight on two planes does not prove important in terms of pure gameplay, except somtimes 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 always made its strength: simplicity.
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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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