The original Fatal Fury is SNK’s second fighting game ever, preceded only by Street Smart. Other than having jump started the production of fighters by the genre’s most prolific developer, it’s also the point of origin of the King of Fighters tournament, and it directly spawned SNK’s most internationally popular series. The fictional city of Southtown was also created here, and has since become the setting for innumerable SNK games. A great number of its characters have become KoF regulars and made other appearances in SNK related cross-over fighters, quiz games, card battle games, video board games, and elsewhere. Despite its significance, Fatal Fury isn’t quite as popular as King of Fighters and it doesn’t have quite as intense a cult following as Samurai Shodown, but it’s easily just as good as those two series.
SNK’s fighters always have some kind of fairly simple feature that makes them stand out from the crowd. Samurai Shodown has weapons, King of Fighters has teams and huge character rosters, Art of Fighting has amazing visuals and innovative techniques, World Heroes has crazy characters and death matches – even their lesser known games each have some kind of novel concept to their gameplay. With their Fatal Fury series, it’s the ability to move into the background in a multi-plane playing field. However, opinions about this technique tend to be mixed among fans. It began as a mere novelty in the original game, but became a genuinely beneficial method of evasion in the sequels.
Something that really stands out about Fatal Fury is how much SNK often changed the dynamics from game to game. This could be said about both Capcom’s Street Fighter and SNK’s own Samurai Shodown as well, but in Fatal Furythe differences between each incarnation are so much more severe. Skills that you’ve mastered in one game don’t necessarily translate to, or even prepare you for, another. So fighting game fans with all kinds of tastes are likely to find a game in the series that appeals to them, and it’s an exceptionally rewarding fighting series to get into as a whole. There really isn’t any be-all-end-all game that obsoletes all the others either, so it might have the most “must have” titles of any SNK fighter series.
In Japan Fatal Fury is called Garou Densetsu, which translates to “Legend of the Hungry Wolf.” The series spans eleven iterations, all of which are available for a home or portable console in some form or other, and seven of the games have been compiled for PlayStation 2 as part of the compilations Fatal Fury Battle Archives 1 and the Japan exclusive Garou Densetsu Battle Archives 2.
Fatal Fury details the fall and subsequent aftermath of the criminal empire of Geese Howard. These events generally revolve around the King of Fighters tournament, with the chief protagonists being brothers Terry and Andy Bogard, and their Muay Thai practicing friend Joe Higashi – the trio is collectively referred to as “The Lone Wolves.”
Known as the “Hungry Wolf,” Terry Bogard is Fatal Fury’s main protagonist and SNK’s most enduring character. He sports an iconic look which most notably consists of a red denim jacket that says “Running Wild” below a star on the back and a cap labeled “King of Fighters.” Amusingly, this makes him look a bit like a Dominoes pizza guy. He’s Andy Bogard’s older brother and is romantically involved with Blue Mary. He speaks English but with a very silly Japanese accent.
The Luigi of fighting games, Andy Bogard is Terry’s occasionally neglected younger brother, who’s basically an American ninja. Where his brother is easy-going, Andy is portrayed as somebody who takes his martial arts training very seriously. He’s also a romantic interest for Mai, whose father trained him in the arts of the Shiranui ninja clan.
Andy and Terry’s Muay Thai-practicing friend wears nothing but shorts and sports a huge hairstyle. Joe Higashi was born in Japan, but has spent most of his life training in Thailand. As Fatal Fury‘s comical relief character, he is known to pull down his shorts and taunt his opponents with his bare behind.
His bizarre name suggests otherwise, but Geese is the most awesome villain in video game history. He’s a German-American who mastered the art of karate and dresses like a Japanese aikido fighter. A former corrupt police commissioner, he rose to power as Southtown’s crime boss. His most powerful move is a complicated attack called the Deadly Rave. While probably not intentional, he resembles the character of “The Aussie” from the 1988 Van Damme movie Bloodsport.
Billy Kane is Geese’s henchman. He wears a bandana and a jacket with a “No Smoking” symbol on the back. He wields a huge stick and possesses various flame-based attacks. His stages often have hard rock visual theme and stage music. His sister Lilly appears as in a couple of his endings in the Fatal Fury series, and is a hidden playable character in The King of Fighters 2006.
Together with King from Art of Fighting, the DJ runs a bar in Southtown. He may look like a result of the same focus group testing that produced those early 1990s “radical” platformer characters, but consider this: He’s the king of ducks. How could you not like a character like that? He’s accompanied by a duckling named P-Chan who mimics his every move. He attacks using a variety of breakdancing maneuvers.
Richard Meyer is a Capoeira master and the owner of the Pao Pao Cafe nightclub in Southtown, a recurring stage in the series. The first Fatal Fury game is the only time where he’s a fighter. He ends up training Bob Wilson in the later episodes, although he returns as a playable characters in The King of Fighter 2006.
Hwa Jai is a Muay Thai fighter on steroids. He is not actually playable in the arcade game and only appears as a boss in the original Fatal Fury, with cameos in a couple games after that. He is finally reintroduced in The King of Fighters XIII, becoming a playable character for the first time.
Tung Fu Rue
Fatal Fury‘s “old master character”. In the animes, Tung Fu Rue is the former teacher of Andy, Terry, Geese, Cheng Sinzan, and Terry and Andy’s father Jeff. In the original game, where he is a non-playable boss character, he can become a giant muscular version of himself. In is playable appearances, this only happens for a short time during certain moves.
Raiden / Big Bear
Raiden (pronounced Rhy-den) is a masked wrestler who then makes a heel-face turn, loses his mask and then goes by the name Big Bear. He resembles real life wrestler Big Van Vader. He has been left out of the Real Bout games, but shows up Capcom vs. SNK and The King of Fighters XII.
Michael Max is a fairly generic boxer who retires after he is beaten by the Bogards and Joe in the first Fatal Fury. He is not actually playable in the arcade game and only appears as a boss.
SNK’s most popular character fights with fans and flame attacks. Her father taught martial arts to Andy Bogard, whom she is in love with. Probably the most shameless fan service character in fighters outside of Dead or Alive or Iroha from Samurai Shodown 6, she’s known for her barely-there wardrobe, flirtatious intro and win animations, and exaggerated voluptuous figure.
An out of shape, middle aged and extremely wealthy business man. Despite his physical appearance, he actually has some kind of martial arts training, and can throw chi energy as green fireballs. Ever money-hungry, he joins the tournament in hopes of winning its huge prize. He actually has an extraordinarily attractive wife that cheers him on and tends to his wounds after the fight.
Kim Kaphwan is a highly disciplined practitioner of Tae Kwon Do whose characterization is defined by his strong sense of justice. He has two children, Kim Dong Hwan and Kim Jae Hoon, who appear in a few of his losing animations, and later become playable characters in Garou: Mark of the Wolves. Most of his theme tunes contain the name “Seoul,” and are usually hard rock.
Fatal Fury‘s “other” old man character. Probably the strongest seventy-year old man alive. In his old age he enjoys spending his time eating cookies (who doesn’t?), tending to his Judo dojo, and bothering his former partner’s granddaughter Mai, which generally leads to him getting knocked around by her. As a Judo master, most of his specials are throws, and he even possesses the first ever dash-in-and-throw move in a fighter.
Axel Hawk is a former champion boxer and Micheal Max’ ex-trainer. He has a spoken quote (“Bust you up!”) that’s horribly pronounced with rather “interesting” results. He sort of resembles super heavyweight boxer Butterbean. He only appears as a boss character in Fatal Fury 2/Special, as his role was taken over by Franco Bash in subsequent games.
Wolfgang Krauser von Stroheim is an extremely tall mega-badass who temporarily replaces Geese as the main antagonist for Fatal Fury 2. He lives in a huge castle in Germany and is Geese’s half brother. Both of his theme songs were taken from Mozart’s Requiem Mass in D minor.
Ryo Sakazaki / Mr. Karate
Ryo Sakazaki is the main protagonist of SNK’s Art of Fighting series. He appears in Fatal Fury Special as a secret boss, but he becomes playable via a cheat that can only be entered after reaching him. Despite Fatal Fury taking place ten years later, he appears just as he did in Art of Fighting. In the PlayStation version of Wild Ambition he returns as Mr. Karate (a common alias for both him and his father Takuma), this time properly aged.
Real name: Mary Ryan. Blue Mary is a secret agent who practices Sambo, a form of wrestling (though she is more of a counter character than a grappler). After her partner was mysteriously killed, she began traveling and eventually got caught up in the events of the series. She is followed around everywhere by her dog, but lacks any Galford-style dog based attacks. In her early artwork, she looks like Android 18 from Dragon Ball Z, and also wears an overly wide belt that doesn’t quite fit her.
Sokaku Mochizuki descends from a lineage of exorcists and can conjure spirits during several of his attacks. He came to Southtown to prevent the threat posed by the Jin twins and Geese in Fatal Fury 3 and Real Bout. His family has a centuries old rivalry with the Shiranui family, but it never really leads to anything in the series. He wears a straw hat and huge beads, fights with a staff, and has a huge scar on his face.
Bob was taught Capoeria by Richard Myers at the Pao Pao Cafe, where he assisted in managing. After the second Pao Pao Cafe was built, Richard made Bob its manager. Bob is portrayed as a very easy going guy. Pao Pao Cafe is frequented by many of Southtown’s best fighters, and Bob is friendly with several of the series’ recurring characters. Several of his moves are named after animals.
Hon Fu is a police officer from Hong Kong who is looking for Ryuji Yamazaki and has tracked him to Southtown. He is obviously based on Jackie Chan. Not only does he look exactly like the Hong Kong superstar, but he is portrayed with a humorous tone reminiscent of the characters that Jackie plays in most of his movies. He fights with a nunchuck, and is the unlikely brother of Cheng Sinzan.
Franco Bash took up kick boxing to take his mind off his wife’s death. He eventually joins the Bogards after Ryuji Yamazaki kidnaps his child. He has a move called “Armageddon Buster,” which is different in each appearance and always has odd properties that allow for many possible implementations of the move. He also sports a badass 1980s moustache.
Ryuji Yamazaki is a sadistic assassin that has been hired as a bodyguard by the Jin brothers. He has the blood of the Orochi, and as that has everything to do with the plot of King of Fighters and nothing to do with Fatal Fury, he eventually made his way into that series. He attacks with a knife and can punch really, really, really fast. Except when he’s stabbing people, he generally attacks with only one arm and keeps the other in his pocket.
Jin Chonshu is Jin Chonrei’s twin brother. He appears to be the more sarcastic of the two, but is actually primarily responsible for motivating their search for immortality and omnipotence. Years later, SNK Playmore made him a playable character in Neo Geo Battle Coliseum.
Jin Chonrei looks suspiciously like Vegeta from Dragon Ball Z and is the twin brother of Jin Chonshu. He is actually less interested in immortality and power than his brother and prefers to live a normal life. Both brothers have the spirits of their ancestors of the last 220,000 years living within them, which seems to be a motivating force for their actions. Like his brother, he is also playable in Neo Geo Battle Coliseum.
Rick Strowd is a light-weight boxer who is introduced in Real Bout 2. He searches Southtown for worthy opponents to fight and is always seeking to improve his skills. He would later appear in First Contact for NGPC and both SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighters Clash games, but has been completely absent in any other fighting games since.
Li Xiangfei is a goofy martial artist with a big appetite. She wears her hair in a twin braided style with bells in it and is known for a super move called Majinga, which does more than 100 hits if it connects. She fights with a drunken boxing style and would later show up in a couple of King of Fighters games.
Lao is an odd one: He first appears as the poor sap getting the crap kicked out of him by Rick in the intro to Real Bout Fatal Fury 2. It’s so fast you can’t really see him without running the game in slow motion. Then in Mark of the Wolves, he appears in B. Jenet’s intro and win animations, and in her ending as well, as a member of her Liline Knights. His lone appearance as a playable character is in First Contact. His father, mother, and sister are named Darren, Samantha and Tabitha, and his dog is named Lassie. So yeah, somebody at SNK was a big fan of 1960s Hollywood sitcoms.
Alfred Airhawk is a pilot who flies an old bi-plane left to him by his late grandfather (who is theorized to be a character in SNK’s Prehistoric Isle). White invaded his village and killed his grandfather, but he was able to escape and shortly thereafter began flying around the world. His travels eventually brought him to Southtown where he encountered White once again. He is first introduced as a hidden boss character in Real Bout Fatal Fury 2, and becomes playable in Real Bout Special: Dominated Mind, an enhanced port of RBFFS for PlayStation and Fatal Fury: First Contact for Neo Geo Pocket Color.
White is featured in the PlayStation port of Real Bout Special and is based on the portrayal of the character of Alexander DeLarge from the movie A Clockwork Orange. A powerful crime boss with mind control abilities, he comes to Southtown in the aftermath of the fall of Geese’s criminal empire and intends to gain control of the city’s underworld via his psychic powers. Unfortunately, he doesn’t appear in any other game.
Tsugumi is just another high school girl character (taking after Sakura from Street Fighter Alpha 2) who only appears in Fatal Fury: Wild Ambition. She’s a professional wrestler, which kind of make her a precursor to Hinako, the female sumo wrestler in the King of Fighters games. Her sole appearances in other SNK titles are in the SNK Card Fighters Clash series and alongside Toji in the pachislot Garou Densetsu Special.