Fatal Fury: King of Fighters
STORYA martial arts tournament known as the "King of Fighters" tournament, is being held in the fictional American city of South Town and sponsored by local crime boss Geese Howard. Ten years prior to the events of the game, Geese murdered a rival martial artist named Jeff Bogard who was on his trail. Now, Jeff's sons, Terry and Andy, along with their friend Joe Higashi, enter the tournament to get their revenge on Geese.

Iss'at Mayweather?

In many ways, Fatal Fury was SNK's answer to Capcom's wildly successful new 2D fighter Street Fighter 2 (released in early 1991). In Fatal Fury, the player takes the role of one of three heroes (Terry, Andy, or Joe), and works their way up the tournament circuit. The first four CPU opponents are Richard Meyer, Duck King, Tung Fue Rue, and Michael Max. Players can select the order of their opponents - a unique attribute to Fatal Fury. After defeating the first four opponents, the player will then face off against Hwa Jai, Raiden, and Billy Kane (in that order) before fighting the final boss, Geese Howard.


I'm glad Terry lost the high-tops.


Comparably to the arcade smash hit that was Street Fighter 2 (and yes, we must compare the two)... Fatal Fury's gameplay engine feels a bit stiff competitively. In short, character movement is slower and less responsive than that of Street Fighter 2. While an impactful title at early 90's arcades for several reasons, Fatal Fury's controls and gameplay did not last competitively or directly evolve from sequel to sequel like Capcom's SF2 series.

However, Fatal Fury characters can move around a bit "differently" than characters from Street Fighter. The most unique and noteworthy gameplay innovation of Fatal Fury is the ability to "jump" into the background or foreground and continue fighting. Character sprites will appear smaller in the background, and then bigger and more detailed in the foreground. This graphical effect looked unorthodox (perhaps slightly weird), but still impressive for the time. In fact... considering how the 2D sprites were used, this "3D effect" was pretty much a graphical achievement and enabled SNK to establish themselves as a "different" (and most interesting) kind of fighting game developer.


Jump spin back kick to the gut. Ouch! 


Fatal Fury
's original character designs are unique and memorable in their own right. Terry Bogard and the gang have certainly come a long way from the first game... and this is easy to see. The original cast was lacking in some areas, again, when compared to SF2's vibrant (and all playable) roster. Fatal Fury's personalities still had some serious development to do (and thank goodness they did in the later games). 

In my eyes, the original Fatal Fury was simply a interesting alternative to Street Fighter 2 (perhaps for some of the players who were tired of losing tokens over at the SF2 machine.) Little did we know in 1991, Fatal Fury laid some of the groundwork of what would become one of the most iconic 2D fighting game franchises of all time; one that would introduce many memorable characters, including those later joined many other fighting game franchises and crossovers.


Raiden was a pretty impressive sprite for 1991.



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Page Updated: July 2nd, 2020
Developer(s): SNK, Takara
Publisher(s): SNK
Platform(s): Neo Geo, Neo Geo CD, Sega Genesis, SNES, PS2, Wii Virtual Console, PSN
Release Date(s): Nov. 25th, 1991             Arcade
Dec. 20th, 1991             Neo Geo
Nov. 27th, 1992              SNES
April 1992                          SNES
Apr. 23rd, 1993               Genesis
Sept. 9th, 1994              Neo Geo CD
Sept. 21st, 2007             Wii VC
Oct. 8th, 2007                  Wii VC
Dec. 21st, 2010             PSN
Characters Terry Bogard, Andy Bogard, Joe Higashi, Richard Meyer, Duck King, Tung Fue Rue, Michael Max, Hwa Jai, Raiden, Billy Kane, Geese Howard

Featured Video:

Related Games: Fatal Fury 2, Fatal Fury 3, Fatal Fury Special, Real Bout Fatal Fury, Real Bout Fatal Fury Special, Real Bout Special: DM, Real Bout Fatal Fury 2, Fatal Fury: Wild Ambition, Fatal Fury: 1st Contact, Garou: Mark of The Wolves, International Karate, Yie Ar Kung Fu, Street Fighter, Street Fighter 2, Art of Fighting, Samurai Shodown, The King of Fighters '94, Capcom Vs. SNK

Gameplay Engine

 5.5 / 10

Story / Theme

 7.0 / 10

Overall Graphics

 7.5 / 10


 6.5 / 10

Music / Sound Effects

 6.0 / 10


 6.5 / 10

Art Direction

 7.0 / 10

Intro / Presentation

 7.0 / 10

Replayability / Fun

 5.5 / 10

"Ouch" Factor

 6.0 / 10


 5.5 / 10


 6.3 / 10

 Review based on Arcade version    


Final Words: No matter how big of an SNK fan you think you are, you'd have to admit that Fatal Fury wasn't a great fighting game. SNK themselves would admit that they were riding the coattails of the unprecedented success that Street Fighter 2 was seeing at arcades around the world. C'mon, even the "red & yellow" Fatal Fury logo is basically a rip-off of Street Fighter 2's. Nonetheless, Fatal Fury was of course an important stepping stone in SNK history... a monumental one that would pave the way for future hit fighting games. Most importantly, Fatal Fury's characters developed greatly in later sequels and would appear in many SNK (and Capcom) crossovers.

While Fatal Fury was a decent "effort" from SNK, the gameplay and early iterations of characters left much to be desired. While a true classic to look back at (and maybe laugh at), what Fatal Fury lacked was a solid gameplay engine that was worth spending time on. Furthermore, the game only had three selectable characters, which paled in comparison to Street Fighter 2's iconic eight. SNK would later release some excellent sequels which were considerably better competition for Capcom's behemoth, Street Fighter 2
~TFG Webmaster


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