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Old 08-08-2004, 04:15 AM   #766
Icarus4578
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Weighing in at a mean and lean 150-MEGS.....

Fatal Fury Special - Neo Geo - Rating 7
I've been praying for a new Fatal Fury for the longest time (in 2D, of course). Hey, we get a new King of Fighters every year so how about a little more love from the Wild Side? In case you don't know your fighting game ABCs by now, Fatal Fury was SNK's flagship fighting game series for a few years and stepped toe to toe with Capcom's various Street Fighter II incarnations. Fatal Fury 2 came out a short while after SFII first took the scene, then both companies went crazy trying to update and fine-tune their respected series several times over. Their goal was to produce the ultimate fighting game on the planet. It goes without saying that Capcom won that dispute, at least in popular opinion anyway. Fatal Fury Special is an upgraded version of part 2, much in the same way that SF games like Champion Edition and Turbo further the SFII franchise. If I had to choose one over the other I'd probably lean in SF's favor due to several factors which I've no need to highlight right now. Just know that Fatal Fury Special is 100% effortless joy on the part of those old school fighting maniacs over at SNK. So grab a copy and let's go hunt ourselves a Krauser.
Fatal Fury Special offers 15 selectable fighters - that's seven more than part 2 if you're keeping track. After a brief opening (of which there are two other slight variations) you select your difficulty and character, then the beating festivities commence. The first thing you'll notice is that the graphics are quite good, if a bit humble by today's standard. The characters are well proportioned and detailed, and each appears to have around 175-200 frames of animation. The stages are especially noteworthy. About half of the characters' stages take place on a moving vehicle of some sort, such as fighting atop a train running past Mt Rushmore (Terry Bogard) or a raft ride through Japanese mountain passes saturated with strange oni statues and other weird oddities (Mai Shiranui). And as you progress through Rounds time changes in most of the stages, and Kim Kaphwan's stage begins to downpour should Round 3 come along. One of the things that seperates FFS from SF is the stages themselves--there's a foreground and background to almost every stage which you can jump/roll between. When you press A+B your character jumps to the other section, and by pressing C+D you can knock an opponent to the other section. What this does is add a level of depth to the stages instead of everything being on one horizontal playing field. Nice touch SNK. :cool guy: In certain boss stages there are things in the background which may even harm you. For instance, Axel Hawk's stage is a ring with electric ropes, so a character can be knocked into them for extra damage.
Most impressive of all is the gameplay. Think Street Fighter II and you're not far from the truth. As was common back in that time and even today to a certain extent, almost every fighting game featured SF-ish gameplay. Down, down-forward, forward+punch is the Power Wave projectile for Terry Bogard -- essentially a Ryu/Ken Hadoken. That's just the most obvious example. If you know how to play any choice SF, you've got much of the ground covered already. However, there are certain elements which, when considered as a whole, shape up to a very distinct experience. Even though characters like Andy Bogard and Big Bear seem to be imitations of the SF cast (Ken and Zangief, respectively) their move sets are much different. It's not that character imput commands are so radically different here but that the strategies behind their proper usage creates a very different beast.

You see, back then fighting games were all about the strategies of each character, and the developers were always trying to find the perfect formula and correct balance between each and every character so that with the proper amount of skill anybody could learn how to become a winner with any character of choice. Look at a game like Tekken 3. Paul Phoenix and Eddy Gordo are cheapaholics, plain and simple. They can take down every other character with cheap combo/juggle sets and button mashing is the name of the game for many. As a result, a novice can select Eddy, begin button mashing and score some unearned victories. You cannot get away with the same thing in Special. If you ever tried, you'd be eaten alive. That's the way every fighting game should be: It's a game of skill where the player must consider such things as the consequences of jumping in at Tung Fu Rue or coming up with that perfect strategy for nailing down your move priority over all the others. You won't find ultra flashy pyrotechnics here; the only thing that is important is the strategy.

The music mainly consists of the same material that was in part 2, which is a good thing. Tracks that stand out include Duck King's amusing hip hop/dance music and the suspect Jubei Yamada encounter in which the sound programmers decided to take a sample of him saying his own name - "Jubei!" - and run amok with it by saturating the song with it being said a hundred times in crafty rhythmic pairings. You simply have to hear it to know what I'm talking about. Oh, and Wolfgang Krauser's stage features the millionth version of Mozart's Dies Irae, only this time it's symphonic (no voice). Sound effects and voice work is well done with some particular standouts being Mai's famous win quote "Me Bouncy!!" and of course Kim's Hisho Kyaku when it connects ~ "A-TA-TA-TA-TA!" Good stuff.
There's more subject matter which I haven't covered--the pre- and post-match quotes, the special stage entrances for a few characters, the hidden character--but I'll leave it all for you to experience for yourself. Fatal Fury Special is special indeed, a rare gem in a genre oversaturated with worthless filler. Neo Geo forever baby. What's more, you can find ports of this title on SNES, Sega CD, PC Engine CD+Arcade HuCard .....even the Game Gear! So what are you waiting for, you "son of an icecream maker"?

You want sites? I've got sites. You need a hook-up? Icarus is your hook-up baby.

Firstly, there's move lists and more here at GameFAQs.com. And if you're looking for a copy then why not try www.ebay.com, www.play-asia.com, or check out www.neostore.com? NeoGeoForLife.com has some screens and other stuff, and see how many times you can spot the F-word in this review. MobyGames is packing screenshots from various incarnations, including Sega CD, SNES, etc. Check out the Game Gear port by Takara, the original masters of cramming hefty Neo Geo carts into bite-sized packages. While you're at it, take a gander at the PC Engine CD version.
You can find tons of pictures, artwork and info with coverage from www.fightersgeneration.com.... one of the greatest sites you'll ever have the pleasure of viewing. Yet more coverage of FFS can be found here at The Coin-Op Museum ~ The Killer List of Video Games. Lastly, here's every ending direct from the www.vgmuseum.com.

And I'm out
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Old 08-08-2004, 06:24 AM   #767
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150 megs? You mean 18.75 megabytes? That's WAY TOO BIG! That's almost as big as Batman Returns for the Sega CD!
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Old 08-08-2004, 08:20 AM   #768
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You should know the difference between MegaBits (Mb) and MegaBytes (MB) Joe. Here's the box art on which you can see the MEGS shown. (Here's the source site ~ www.neogeofreak.com)
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Old 08-08-2004, 08:01 PM   #769
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Of course I know the difference. And that's how I know the game is 18.75 MegaBYTES.

Some guy named Chad something or other (he was called the "Game Lord") who worked at SNK got into an argument with me back in the day. He insisted that the games were measured in megaBYTES and I insisted that they were measured in megaBITs, just like Genesis and SNES games. Guess who was right. Actually do you even need to guess? Neo Geo games are measured in megabits. The proof is in the ROMs. You will never find a Neo Geo ROM that is 150 megabytes big. In fact, I think they fudge a little on their megabits as well. Magician Lord was rated at what... 47 megs or something? Actual uncompressed ROM size is 5.1 megabytes. Multiply that by 8 and you get 40.8 megabits. That is still the best game that the Neo Geo has ever seen.
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Old 08-09-2004, 10:07 AM   #770
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And I'd add that game companies often find compression techniques to allow for more than would normally be allowed within a restricted limit of MEGS. Nowadays, it doesn't matter as much because of how strong the new consoles are, but back in the 16-bit days compression was especially important. Just ask Takara. ;)
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Old 08-13-2004, 10:27 AM   #771
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Keep on rocking in the dreamworld

Klonoa ~ Door to Phantomile - PlayStation - Rating 8
Whatever happened to 2.5D games? Clockwork Knight, Bug! and a couple of others helped introduce this underutilized genre, and Klonoa is one of the best of 'em. Released in 1997, it came and went with minor fanfare. I mean Nintendo hyped Yoshi's Story as being 2.5D but that simply wasn't the case. No, Klonoa is what I'd call 2.5D. I'm not going to bother saying things like "If you own a PlayStation or PS2 then you must own Klonoa." because if you haven't experienced either the original or the PS2 sequel by now, I'm not going to bother wasting my time trying to convince you. You should know better. The world doesn't revolve around Halo and Metal Gear Solid, you know.
To say that Klonoa is charming is putting it mildly. To say it is one of the best-looking, best-playing 32-bit titles would be more accurate. For all you platforming maniacs, Namco delivers the goods and does so with style and a sense of quality that one would probably consider Miyamoto-ish in quality (that is, when his good side is showing). Klonoa is perhaps the best attempt at a new mascot by any company during the 32-bit days. He's a rabbit-like creature with huge ears that wears a blue cap and carries around a huge ring. Right when I fired this gem up on my PS2 I knew that I was in for a treat. After a brief CG opening sequence I set up my file and was off on a whimsical journey unlike any other previously encountered. Klonoa performs flawlessly with some of the best controls and stage construction this side of 32-bit that'll make you get all yummy inside and beg for more where that came from. It makes me wonder what sort of trip this industry is currently on because I simply cannot surmise a reasonable explanation as to why other companies aren't trying their damndest to get their hands dirty creating more 2.5D games. Remember when Mario 64 was shown, how it brought out the competitive spirit in both Sony (Crash Bandicoot) and Sega (NiGHTS)? You see, that's what happens whenever companies feel threatened--it brings out their absolute best because it inspires them to actually try and appeal to the gamer with something other than just asthetics and long mundane cinema journeys with broken gameplay.
....Speaking of asthetics, Klonoa is one of the most colorful PS games ever conceived. Featuring lush, brilliant, colorful 3D geometry with a prerendered cast of characters, Klonoa is a visual masterpiece even to this day. The way the game works is deceptively simple: Klonoa runs around grabbing enemies by firing out his Wind Bullet from his ring at foes so that he can grab them. Once he's grabbed an enemy he can run around carrying it (except in tight areas), throw it or use it to perform a double jump. He can throw enemies in any direction, even into the screen or into the background. (And sometimes this is required as there are switches and other things to be hit in the distance.) Klonoa can also hover for a short while in midair by flapping his huge ears. As the game progresses, you'll have to eventually be able to make Klonoa jump off an enemy, catch another while in midair, then jump off that one.... sometimes in rapid succession. Needless to say, precision is required. Of course, what's a good platformer without a plethora of stuff to collect? Klonoa can acquire Dream Stones which act like coins in Mario (collect 100 for a 1-up), keys, orbs, hearts for health, 1-up coins, and there are six Phantomilians in each Vision which you should make an effort to find. But don't worry--even if you miss a few, after you've completed the game you'll have the option to transverse the world map at leisure, and every Phantomilian you've previously found will always remain in Klonoa's inventory. If you collect them all in every Vision you'll have access to the Extra Vision, and if you can successfully complete this new challenge you'll gain a special item. :bigsmile: Also, it's worth noting that there are 150 Dream Stones collectable within each Vision. However, you don't really open anything when you've collected them all. (*note* I collected 153 Dream Stones in Vision 5-1. :cool guy: )
As far as challenge and length is concerned this game progresses very, very smoothly -- so smoothly that you're not bound to fail playing through it your first try. The total game length is around 3 hours or so, and while that's not very long for a platformer what's offered here is more than worth the price of admission. There's save files for you to continue your quest whenever you'd like. I'd go so far as to say that Klonoa's stage design stands amongst the very best that the genre has even seen, and there's tons of replay value to boot.
Oh, and I did I mention the bosses? Here, too, are some of the coolest boss encounters ever to grace your PS console. They're very creative and one of them even features a strategy that's reminiscent of Q-Bert. Truly impressive.
When you talk about great action/platforming game soundtracks you talk about games like Sonic and Mega Man. I'll politely add Klonoa to that mix. I could easily imagine a sequel to NiGHTS sounding like this. Seriously. Some songs sound eerily reminiscent of NiGHTS tunes such as Under Construction, while others have a unique flair with clever arrangements and infectious melodic/harmonic content that's all but absent from the current crop of software. All of the sound effects are similar perfection, and I just can't get enough of the strange language heard when characters converse. It's truly ingenious.
If you want to razzle dazzle your game collection then get both Klonoa 1 & 2. It's remarkable that the 2.5D genre of action/platforming has been all but ignored by most every company after 32-bit ended. Namco is to be commended for crafting one of the finest examples of the genre. I haven't even gone into the story, but I'll leave that for you to discover. Needless to say, it's a satisfying journey from start to finish. If you don't make an attempt to play either Klonoa, I'm not going to try and change your mind because you'd have to be ignorant to pass this series up.

Would it be asking too much for five titles like this a year?
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Old 08-13-2004, 08:05 PM   #772
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I couldn't get into this game because of it's grating music. It just turned me off immediately.

Also (back to previous discussion), yes, companies do often find compression technologies to use in cartridge games. But I doubt that ANY Neo Geo game ever bothered to use compression techniques. Why would they? 150 megabits it is, uncompressed. But that is still more than SNES and Genesis games would be uncompressed. Sonic 1 used compression, and it was 4 megabits. I'm willing to bet that uncompressed it would only be between 6 and 8 megabits at the very most.
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Old 08-13-2004, 09:39 PM   #773
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why are you denying the massive cart size of the neo geo? no console has larger carts.

fatal fury is 150 megs. also, there are carts on the geo that are much larger. that guy that you were arguing with was obviously wrong. i think everyone knows (or should know) that the geo cart size is measured in bits.

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Originally Posted by Joe Redifer
That is still the best game that the Neo Geo has ever seen.
no, it's not.
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Old 08-13-2004, 11:41 PM   #774
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I am saying the game is measured in megaBITS, not megaBYTES. Fatal Fury is 18.75 megaBYTES and 150 megaBITS, that's all. I'm not saying the cart is smaller than 150 megabits. It's just not very impressive anymore, even for the Neo where games have gone way beyond the 330 Meg barrier.

And yes, Magician Lord IS the best game for the Neo Geo.
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Old 08-13-2004, 11:56 PM   #775
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Magician Lord 2 was practically finished but ADK decided not to release it. Basically, we can all enjoy living with the knowledge that there's a sequel that exists to a great action title which will never see the light of day. Now THAT sucks.
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Old 08-14-2004, 01:19 AM   #776
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Yes it does. Magician Lord is one of the few Neo Geo exclusives. Most other titles were brought out on other systems.
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Old 08-14-2004, 12:51 PM   #777
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Redifer
Most other titles were brought out on other systems.
most? now that is not correct.
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Old 08-14-2004, 08:46 PM   #778
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OK let me refine that statement:
Most games that are worth two shits were brought out on other systems. Re:
Fatal Fury series
King of Fighters series
Art of Fighting
World Heroes
Viewpoint
Last Blade
Samurai Shodown
Metal Slug
King of Monsters etc etc etc

Most Neo Geo games aren't worth playing, however. They are mostly just "me too" fighting games. Magician Lord is one of the few GOOD games that remains exclusively on the Neo.
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Old 08-16-2004, 02:10 PM   #779
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The Real Bout series were great IMO, good grafix, nice gameplay, although the inputs for thmoves were somewhat tedious (e.g. Mai's Ultra Deadly Ninja Bees), but overall it's a good game. So is Wild Ambition, well IMO at least!
Oh and what about Rage of the Dragons?
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Old 08-16-2004, 04:31 PM   #780
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I've never played Rage of the Dragons, though I've certainly wanted to. I'm presuming you've played it Freeman, so what do you think?
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