The 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.
It's bullshit I tell
you... (look at the background).
Real 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.
TaeKwonDo stage FTW!
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's still sportin' his
old school threads.
The music of Real Bout Special is pretty
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.
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