The franchise's game director recalls the games' development ahead of tomorrow's release
Hello SNK fans, this is Keisuke Nishikawa from SNK. I am happy to announce the release of Fatal Fury: Battle Archives Vol.2 tomorrow, 28th March on PlayStation Store, and to share some untold stories from the original development staff about the birth and evolution of the Real Bout Fatal Fury series.
Real Bout Fatal Fury
One interesting point regarding the creation of Real Bout Fatal Fury was that it was produced by reusing unsold NeoGeo cartridges of Fatal Fury 3, the prequel to RBFF which was released in 1995.
Unfortunately, Fatal Fury 3 did not hit the high expectations of the company, and is often considered the black sheep of the series. That meant that there were a lot of unsold cartridges on hand, and the engineers at SNK ended up reusing specific chips from those cartridges during the creation of Real Bout Fatal Fury.
The concept of stage borders and “Ring Out” that were introduced in Real Bout Fatal Fury was a popular addition amongst players of the home (AES) version of the game.
“The entire team felt this would offer an extra degree of danger to the battles and it also gave us an opportunity to add in some silly fan service.” says game director Yasuyuki Oda.
Unfortunately not all fans were in agreement – it was criticized and feared by arcade players as they could lose their match from a single mistake which meant their hard-earned coins could easily go down the drain. “This feedback, while somewhat unexpected, was important in dictating how the team approached the next entry in the series,” Oda concluded. Ring outs would never make a return to the Fatal Fury series.
Accroding to Oda, not everything goes according to plan in game development, as he examples by another anecdote about the Real Bout Fatal Fury series. “Players not fond of overly complicated commands were especially pleased with Real Bout Fatal Fury upon its release, as the debug mode used during game development was still accessible.
“This meant players could activate any Desperation Move by just pressing down, down and a single button!” he explains, shaking his head with slight exasperation. “I even remember seeing arcades which had signs posted next to the game prohibiting the use of this hidden/forbidden command!”
Real Bout Fatal Fury was originally created with the goal of putting an end to the series’ story and its iconic antagonist Geese Howard. However, the success of the game and popularity of the character meant that he didn’t stay dead for long!
Real Bout Fatal Fury Special
SNK’s 1st Planning Division, which was in charge of the development of the Fatal Fury series, put a lot of effort into redrawing certain characters that were making a return in Real Bout Fatal Fury Special. Terry Bogard and Franco Bash were among the characters that were redesigned. Most of these redesigns had a more anime style, going along with the popular trends of that time.
Each member of the 1st Planning Division was in charge of a specific character, and they loved to compete with their other colleagues to make their character the strongest in the cast! However, characters were rebalanced during the debug process (which was carried out by several shifts of employees 24 hours per day, 7 days a week!) leading up to the game’s release.
Geese Howard, who officially died in the previous entry, was included in the new roster due to how popular he was with fans around the globe.
The 4 EX characters (EX Tung Fu Rue, EX Billy Kane, EX Blue Mary, EX Andy Bogard) were created in order to add fun and variety to the game. The original Fatal Fury series had a large focus on story and an overarching plot, but the Real Bout series focused much more on gameplay with story taking a back seat in most cases. These ‘shadow’ characters are also a result of that stance.
Regarding Real Bout Fatal Fury Special, game director Yasuyuki Oda reveals an overlooked issue with one fighter in particular.
“In those days patches were obviously not possible like they are now and we actually discovered after release of the first lot of MVS cartridges that Billy Kane’s short hop A had no hitbox!” Oda has a bitter smile on his face as he remembers the incident. “We were forced to recall the cartridges already out in the wild to fix this mistake, which was quite an undertaking.”
The Real Bout Series was developed at a time where AES versions of NeoGeo titles were followed by a NeoGeo CD release, and Real Bout Fatal Fury Special was no exception to the rule.
SNK created new assets for the loading screens of the game, but their style was considered a bit too eccentric by many fans, who actually sent letters directly to SNK demanding that they not to use this style anymore! These loading screens are not in this PS4 release of the game, so everyone can rest easy!
Real Bout Fatal Fury 2
The final game in this compilation is another popular title around the world, as it is known for its very high paced battles. Created in only 4 months, the Fatal Fury Team put a lot of effort into significantly increasing the tempo of the battles for Real Bout Fatal Fury 2. The steps they took to accomplish this task included getting rid of the after battle victory poses and simplifying command inputs.
The game was also the first NeoGeo game that featured an opening movie animated image by image (older titles used to have intro movies made with simple slides). This high energy intro movie indicated the frantic and fast-paced atmosphere of the game to come.
Thanks in part to the games’ fast pace, Real Bout Fatal Fury 2 was played over 500 times during a “location test” (sessions in which a game is tested by users before its official release), and Terry Bogard was once more proven to be the most popular character.
We hope you enjoyed this retrospective from the original development team of the Real Bout Fatal Fury series. The whole team hopes that old fans and players new to the series will enjoy this trilogy of masterpieces included in Fatal Fury: Battle Archives Vol 2, so make sure you are prepared to GET IN THE RING!
Stay tuned for more exciting “PS2 Classics” release in the coming weeks!