Format reviewed: Neo Geo
When Real Bout Fatal Fury 2 first hit arcades in 1998, it seemed to represent the beginning of a new start for the series. There hadn’t been any new characters since 1995’s Fatal Fury 3, so the introduction of Native American boxer Rick Strowd and belligerent big eater Li Xiangfei was a major step forward. Of course, what nobody knew at the time was that it was going to be the swansong for traditional Fatal Fury games – Garou: Mark Of The Wolves totally refreshed the cast and Fatal Fury: Wild Ambition went 3D.
Still, as far as send-offs go, this was a big one. The vast majority of Fatal Fury’s cast of characters is represented in the game’s 22-strong roster, and the newcomers fit right in perfectly. Both character sprites and backgrounds were utterly beautiful, and the combo mechanics had been tightly refined over the last few games. It’s even more accessible to newcomers than the previous games, as the second fighting plane became a “sway” lane purely for evasion and counterattacks.
In many ways, Real Bout Fatal Fury 2 actually embodied the values Neo Geo perfectly. Not only did it feature the system’s most enduring characters in the genre that the hardware came to be most closely associated with, it was only available to an exclusive audience. With no console ports at the time, you needed to own SNK hardware if you wanted to play the game. As a love letter to Fatal Fury fans, you couldn’t have asked for more.