Fatal Fury: Wild Ambition

REVIEWIn January 1999, SNK's iconic Fatal Fury series made the bold jump from 2D to 3D on SNK's Hyper Neo Geo 64 system board (and was also one of the last games released on it). The game was later was ported to the PlayStation in June 1999 (Japan) and December 1999 (North America).

This installment is a retelling of the story in the original Fatal Fury game, featuring many recognizable classics as well as some new faces to the series. Wild Ambition's presentation was on par with other recent fighting game releases in 1999, featuring a pretty sweet intro (at the time) and slick character artwork. Unfortunately, the actual gameplay and graphics didn't end up complimenting the presentation or the artwork.


Fatal Fury: Wild Ambition character select screen.


Graphically, this game is bad news. The 3D rendered characters are sickeningly blocky and animate equally as stiff. Character models also aren't "light sourced" at all, and were prone to polygonal glitching. The backgrounds are nothing but low-quality 2D images, pasted behind a flat square with awful textures (that's supposed to be a floor?). Lastly, the character endings actually use the horrible in-game graphics, giving you a disturbingly close look at how bad the character models are. Compare these shoddy endings with Street Fighter EX's endings (almost 3 years old), and it's even more embarrassing. Unsurprisingly, the gameplay of Wild Ambition is nearly just as bad as the graphics.


Fatal Fury has looked looked better. (Understatement? Yes.)


Like in previous Fatal Fury games, characters can "roll" in and out of the background to dodge attacks. The new Heat Gauge replaces the Power Meter system from Real Bout Fatal Fury 2. Players can fill the Heat Gauge by attacking (or taunting), but if they take damage the meter will decrease. Like in previous games, the Heat Meter enables more damaging attacks, and of course your character can perform a super move. The Heat Gauge can also be "overheated" if a player takes too much damage or performs too many counterattacks, rendering them dizzy and vulnerable to their opponent's attack. Wild Ambition also introduces the Guard Impact technique, allowing the defending player to take no damage when they attack and push the opponent away slightly if they perfectly time a block.

At the end of the day, Fatal Fury: Wild Ambition's gameplay just feels sluggish overall, and clearly, everything just looked and felt better in the previous 2D games. While the 3D animation presents many recognizable attacks from the Fatal Fury icons, the animations are beyond clunky. While some moves look alright (at their very best), others just look sloppy and "slow" in 3D (which negatively effects the gameplay, too). SNK was ambitious with this 3D reboot of Fatal Fury (or at least they were just trying to match Capcom's SFEX series), but Wild Ambition was easily one of the most dull and clunky fighting games of the era. For a quick comparison, put a few rounds into Capcom's Street Fighter EX2 (released around the same time as FF: Wild Ambition) and you'll find a game that's actually playable, and looks & animates much better.

Look at Big Bear Raiden waddling... Now Go play CVS1.

FUN FACT Fatal Fury: Wild Ambition was the only arcade game created using SNK's Hyper Neo Geo 64 hardware that was eventually ported to home systems.









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Page Updated: March 18th, 2024
Developer(s): SNK, Japan Vistec
Publisher(s): SNK
Platform(s): Arcade (Hyper Neo Geo 64), PlayStation, PSN, PS Vita
Release Date(s): Jan. 28th, 1999              Arcade
Jun. 24th, 1999
Dec. 11th, 1999
Apr. 25th, 2007
Aug. 28th, 2012             PS Vita
Characters Terry Bogard, Andy Bogard, Joe Higashi, Mai Shiranui, Billy Kane, Kim Kaphwan, Ryuji Yamazaki, Raiden, Toji, Geese Howard, Xiangfei, Duck King, Mr. Karate, Tsugumi

Featured Video:

Related Games: Fatal Fury: City of the Wolves, Fatal Fury, Fatal Fury 2, Fatal Fury 3, Fatal Fury Special, Real Bout Fatal Fury, Real Bout Fatal Fury Special, Real Bout Special: Dominated Mind, Real Bout Fatal Fury 2, Fatal Fury: 1st Contact, The King of Fighters '99, Garou: Mark of the Wolves, The King of Fighters: Maximum Impact, Samurai Shodown 64: Warriors Rage, Samurai Shodown 64, Samurai Shodown 64 2, Final Fight Revenge, Buriki One, Bloody Roar 2, Toshinden 3, Toshinden 4, Tobal 2, Ehrgeiz: God Bless The Ring, Mortal Kombat 4, Mortal Kombat Gold, SoulCalibur, Dead or Alive 2, TEKKEN Tag Tournament, Street Fighter EX, Street Fighter EX2

Gameplay Engine  4.0 / 10
Story / Theme  5.0 / 10
Overall Graphics  3.0 / 10
Animation  4.5 / 10
Music / Sound Effects  6.0 / 10
Innovation  4.0 / 10
Art Direction  8.5 / 10
Customization  4.0 / 10
Options / Extras  4.5 / 10
Intro / Presentation  7.0 / 10
Replayability / Fun  3.0 / 10
"Ouch" Factor  5.0 / 10
Characters  6.5 / 10

 4.4 / 10

 Review based on PS1 version    


Final Words: Capcom controversially brought the Street Fighter franchise into the 3D realm a few years prior with Street Fighter EX (and barely achieved par). In hindsight, SFEX was actually ahead of its time and offered a fun and playable game engine that evolved into other games. The same can't be said for Fatal Fury: Wild Ambition.

Naturally, SNK just had to try their hand with a "3D" fighting game to keep up with their longtime rival... but the outcome obviously wasn't a success this time around, as SNK was late to the 3D trend and didn't flesh out the gameplay quite enough. When you consider many of the other fighting games going strong in 1999, Wild Ambition definitely looked like a "last-gen" mess of sorts. SNK was late to the party this time.

As an early 2D/3D fighting game by SNK, Wild Ambition had potential but couldn't execute in the important areas. Even so, I suppose some Fatal Fury fans still have this game in their collection anyway. Hey, the box art is pretty sweet. In fact, in my opinion, the only truly "good thing" to come from this game is the 2D artwork. If it had one thing... Wild Ambition did have a very solid and likeable 2D art direction.
~TFG Webmaster | @Fighters_Gen

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