Real Bout Fatal Fury Special


STORYThe tales of the legendary battle has been unfurled. Eyes met on both sides and fists clashed. Fate ironically took hold of the chaos and started another sublime development. Even if there seems to be no requests for it...

Now, the experienced fighters can reflect on their fights and wounds. What recognition were they looking for with their strength? Each of them are legends in their own right. No one wants to assume that this fight can change this fact. However, no fight is ever perfect. These fights alone could not satisfy them... Wings spread to the sky... United to decide who is the superior, the martial artists gather to refine themselves in battle. On the stage known as the Real Bout Fatal Fury Special.

Real Bout Special character select screen.

REVIEWReal Bout Special is the sixth installment of the Fatal Fury series and second installment in the Real Bout sub-series. In addition to adding some classic Fatal Fury characters to the roster, this sequel features several redrawn character sprites, all new stages, other new graphical updates, and brings back Fatal Fury's trademark 2-level plane system. The distance at which characters move apart from each other on each plane has increased, giving the game a more 3D feel.

Real Bout: Special is an improvement over the prequel both visually and in terms of gameplay. Technically, the game follows most 2D fundamentals, with normal moves canceling into specials. The chain-combo system from the prequel has also been tightened up and functions much faster in Special.

Time to get some Tae Kwon Do on!

Characters have pretty deep movesets (with some particularly challenging inputs), giving them a solid variety of attacks. Special also adds new characters: Tung Fu Rue, Cheng Sinzan, Laurence Blood & Wolfgang Krauser (the new final boss). Even though he technically "died" in the prequel, Geese Howard also reappears as a hidden final boss in a special "Nightmare Match" (and is an unlockable playable character in the home versions). Real Bout Special also features hidden "extra" versions of Billy Kane, Blue Mary, Tung Fu Rue, and Andy Bogard (for a grand total of 22 playable fighters).

While not the prettiest 2D fighter in 1996-1997, Real Bout Special shines in certain areas. The 2D character sprites show quite a bit of personality and have interesting attack animations and poses. The hand-drawn stages are well-designed and have unique atmosphere, especially since your character can move around on two planes. Furthermore, the stage introductions and time of day alterations between rounds are a nice touch, adding personality to each stage. Stages also have background interactions as characters get knocked into the walls, and even wall breaks (which are just for looks and don't effect gameplay). What's missing? Perhaps some ouch factor. Also, super moves don't have any screen-changing effects - making many of them anti-climactic.

Terry back with his classic look.

The music of Real Bout Special is pretty catchy, retaining the classic twangy, charismatic rock tracks of the series. On the flipside, the goofy-sounding announcer doesn't help the sound or mood of the game. Real Bout Special's announcer actually might be one of the most awful and annoying fighting game announcers in history. He never seems to shut up either. "Heeey, how's it goin' duuude... Have a Mexican! Choose ya favorite character!" Lay off the happy pills Mr. Announcer. The sound effects during attacks and specials are a bit tinny and don't quite jive with my ears, but the characters shouting out their iconic special moves overshadow the less-desirable sounds.

A port of Real Bout Special was released on the PlayStation in 1998 (Japan only), entitled Real Bout Fatal Fury Special: Dominated Mind. The PS1 port features 2 additional playable characters (Alfred & White), along with a new anime intro.



Page Updated: September 14th, 2023
Developer(s): SNK
Publisher(s): SNK
Platform(s): Neo Geo, Neo Geo CD, Sega Saturn, PS1, PS2, PSN, PS4, Switch
Release Date(s): Jan. 28th, 1997            Arcade
  PS1 - as RB Special: Dominated Mind
May 30th, 2007             PSN
Apr. 19th, 2018            Switch
Characters Terry Bogard, Andy Bogard, Joe Higashi, Franco Bash, Mai Shiranui, Bob Wilson, Geese Howard, Billy Kane, Hon Fu, Ryuji Yamazaki, Sokaku, Blue Mary, Kim Kap Hwan, Jin Chonshu, Jin Chonrei, Duck King, Cheng Sinzan, Laurence Blood, Wolfgang Krauser, Tung Fu Rue, Alfred, White (PS1)

Featured Video:

Related Games: Real Bout Special: Dominated Mind, Real Bout Fatal Fury, Real Bout Fatal Fury 2, Fatal Fury, Fatal Fury 2, Fatal Fury 3, Fatal Fury Special, Fatal Fury: Wild Ambition, Fatal Fury: 1st Contact, Garou: Mark of The Wolves, The Last Blade, Samurai Shodown 4, King of Fighters '97, Marvel Super Heroes VS Street Fighter, Street Fighter III: 2nd Impact, Pocket Fighter, Mortal Kombat 3: Ultimate, Mortal Kombat 4, Darkstalkers 3, Rival Schools, Tekken 3, Virtua Fighter 3, Soul Blade, Tobal 2

Gameplay Engine  7.5 / 10
Story / Theme  6.0 / 10
Overall Graphics  7.5 / 10
Animation  7.0 / 10
Music / Sound Effects  7.0 / 10
Innovation  5.5 / 10
Art Direction  7.5 / 10
Customization  4.5 / 10
Options / Extras  5.0 / 10
Intro / Presentation  7.5 / 10
Replayability / Fun  6.5 / 10
"Ouch" Factor  6.5 / 10
Characters  6.5 / 10

 7.3 / 10

 Review based on Arcade version    


Final Words: While quite a few members of the roster are less than inspiring, Real Bout Special was decent a 2D fighter for its time. Even the 2-level plane system was quirky (and didn't stand the test of time in fighting game history), I can respect what SNK tried to do with the 2-level plane system. It was a unique gameplay aspect that no other 2D fighting game series ever tried... and the unique character animations and attacks when crossing to the next plane look pretty dope. You can tell SNK put some heart into it.

Still, Real Bout Special doesn't quite come together in some areas. The whole game also has a "uppity / happy" vibe, which negatively contrasts with some of the other darker / more badass fighting games of the time. While the gameplay, visuals, and character roster was a solid improvement, this "sub-series" of Fatal Fury still seemed like it was behind the curve in the the current era of fighting games. 1997 was indeed a very competitive year in the genre, with several titles vastly "raising the bar" with graphics and unique gameplay mechanics. For a classic 2D fighter though, Real Bout Special still had some spark.
~TFG Webmaster | @Fighters_Gen

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