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Quick question: which Street Fighter game defines the series? Were I a betting gamer, I’d wager that the words “Street Fighter II” rolled off your lips…in addition to some other adjective. Turbo, Champion, Super. Whatever. Street Fighter II, for all its genre definement, needed an iteration or two to get it right. Similarly, SNK’s Fatal Fury series needed a similar treatment.
Join us this month as we re-experience Fatal Fury Special, a fighting game that demonstrate both SNK’s ability to get with the times and their capability to create a game that stands the test of time.
Similar to how Capcom ended up ignoring that the original Street Fighter was ever a thing that was, SNK decided to expand upon Fatal Fury 2 in a similar way. Where before there had only been eight playable characters in Fatal Fury 2 (seriously, the Street Fighter II comparisons stopped being deliberate a little while ago), in Fatal Fury Special all bosses become playable, including non-playable characters from the original game.
So, essentially, Fatal Fury Special is the game where SNK figured out what they were doing. Like the many (many) improved versions that made up your childhood (assuming you’re of this website’s typical age group), Fatal Fury Special is the refined origin story for many of SNK’s greatest successes.
Fatal Fury Special rivals Sonic the Hedgehog for ubiquity when it comes to ports. Versions of the game were developed for the Neo Geo CD, SNES, Sega CD, Game Gear, FM Towns (Site:Racketboy.com “FM Towns”, btw), PC Engine, X68000, the Fatal Fury Battle Archive for the PS2 and, of course, an overpriced Neo Geo ROM thru the Wii Virtual Console.
Fatal Fury Special is a 2D fighter. That is about 90% of what needs to be said about the gameplay. As it was released in 1993, there were a few things done with Fatal Fury Special that warrant mentioning. There is a fairly innovative combo system, the kind of thing that was usually implemented accidentally rather than deliberately in the early 90’s. There is also a special character to be found, one who is fairly significant to fans of early SNK fighters.
Mostly, Fatal Fury Special is what you had in Fatal Fury 2 and then some. Lots of special moves, trucker hats, shifting between near and far planes on the screen and feeling guilty for admiring Mai Shiranui a bit too much.
Okay, I suppose this is where the easy comparisons to Street Fighter II falls apart. Fatal Fury Special, for all its definitiveness, did not leave a very lasting impression on the gaming universe. A year after its release, SNK would introduce the King of Fighters ’94 to the world, a series that would very quickly eclipse the numerous game franchises from which it borrowed. Although there would be future games released under the Fatal Fury banner, they always seemed to struggle to justify their own relevance (until Garou: Mark of the Wolves but that’s a different story) and, as such, were too busy to reference Fatal Fury Special the way it warranted.
If you’re participating in this months stroll (and punch fest) down memory lane, the Racketboy community wants to hear about it. Join us on the Together Retro forums to let us know if this game has aged well for you or if it only serves as a reminder of how far the genre has come.