Insert Disk collects Real Bout Special: Fatal Fury (リアルバウト餓狼伝説) for the Sega Saturn.
Today’s retro game review is Real Bout Special: Fatal Fury (リアルバウト餓狼伝説) (Rearu Bauto Garō Densetsu Special) for the Sega Saturn. This retro gaming classic is one retro game in the Sega Saturn library that you won’t want to miss. SNK have refined the original Fatal Fury Real Bout formula in to a well polished special edition. It’s complete with a full character roster, great soundtrack and game play to match. SNK’s Fatal Fury series had various outings, this special edition on the Sega Saturn is amongst the best of them.
Greetings collectors and welcome to today’s retro game review. It’s often said that the Sega Saturn did 2D fighting games well. From the Street Fighter Series to the Marvel Fighters, Vampire Saviours and beyond. There were numerous fighting games in the late-90’s. Perhaps some of the best known series are the Fatal Fury and King of Fighters series. Both of these saw outings on the Sega Saturn.
Today I’ve chosen to take a look at Real Bout Special: Fatal Fury. Any fighting game collector will almost certainly have played at least one version of the Fatal Fury Series. It was the genesis for many memorable characters. Real Bout Special: Fatal Fury can be seen as a well-polished edition of Fatal Fury. Not yet the juggernaut of the King of Fighters but a step up on previous entries in the series. It takes its lead from the Real-Bout branch of the series and peppers in extra characters.
For those of you that may be new to the series the objective of the game is very simple. Select your preferred character and fight through multiple bouts until your opponent is either knocked out or the timer expires. The winner is the fighter with the most health remaining. As with other entries in the series you will have a range of faster, weaker punches and kicks and also a range of slower but more powerful moves. On top of this each character will have their own special move sets and the ability to tie all of these together in a combo system. There are a decent set of fight options to enable you to customise the number of rounds, round length, opponent difficulty as well as sound and key configurations. From the off you can play in a variety of modes such as arcade and original, each with their own take on the gameplay. In truth it’s mainly the scenes between battles that set the two modes apart. The game opens with a playable character set of 20. There’s a few familiar faces such as Mary and Terry but also a few of the lesser known fighters from the series. From the start it’s clear that Real Bout Special: Fatal Fury is a well-polished piece of gaming. The scenes between matches are designed to bring a sense of occasion to the fights and really set the mood.
The stage settings themselves are all gloriously drawn. Perhaps a little pixelated by today’s standard but each and everyone one of them provides a vibrant and believable battle arena.
As for the fighting, well, it’s first class all the way. Fatal Fury is all about tactis, combos and knowing when to attempt to land that special move. When under pressure you can also move back further in to the background to avoid oncoming attacks. This opens up an extra dimension in the game play. More powerful special moves are charged via the power bar at the bottom of the screen. Successful attacks and punches will build this bar until you’re really to unleash devastation on your opponent.
SNK really knew what they were doing here. The game is seemingly quite well balanced although the later boss fights will leave some struggling if they are new to the series. By default I select the easier difficulty settings when I record footage to ensure I can grab a range of stages. On the harder difficulty modes Real Bout Special: Fatal Fury is not just difficult, it is severely punishing. Expect the enemy to dish out massive combos and counter your every move. Come for the legacy of Fatal Fury but stay for the challenge.
As for the physical copy, the game comes well packaged in a standard jewel CD case. The artwork is well presented but nothing to really shout about. As expected the game manual is of some help to beginners as it will help get you familiarised with the main button configurations. So, is Real Bout Special: Fatal Fury any good? Well, it’s a yes and a no from me. As a standalone game its great fun. The graphics are crisp, the move set reasonably intuitive and the audio certainly packs a punch. If I were to pick this game up as a newcomer to the series I would be more than impressed.
If I had to call out an issue I have with the game is that it can be difficult to see this game as standalone. As a successor to previous Fatal Fury games it really does deliver. On the other hand though the King of Fighter successors did manage to top the gaming experience in my opinion.
Although reasonably similar to most games in the series there is nothing to set this entry apart. Other entries in SNKs later King of Fighters series had team battle modes as well as a Striker feature. It’s not that Real Bout Special: Fatal Fury does anything wrong. It delivered exactly what it should for the series at the time. It improved on the standard game but perhaps lacked the bravery to innovate.
For this Japanese Sega Saturn edition of the game expect to pay around the £20 here in the UK or around $25 for the US market. This was a Japanese exclusive so you will have to import this one.
Overall Real Bout Special: Fatal Fury is worth the entry price. It captures the old school Fatal Fury roughness with the enhanced graphics of the Sega Saturn. It’s also worth noting that the Sega Saturn version will retain more animation frames by using the expended memory card. Purists will insist that the Neo -Geo version of the game is the more authentic experience. Personally the Sega Saturn fighting stick more than makes up for the small variations though.
Real Bout Special: Fatal Fury is a game that you should definitely check out if you enjoy other entries in the series. It’s about as solid as fighting games get on the 32-bit platforms and well worth the entry price. It’s fast and fun to play. It’s exactly the legacy you would expect from an SNK fighter.