Fatal Fury: Battle Archives Vol. 2 picks up where the previous volume left off and gives us the fifth, sixth, and seventh installments in the franchise. For roughly fifteen dollars, you can bring home Real Bout Fatal Fury, Real Bout Fatal Fury Special, and Real Bout Fatal Fury 2: The Newcomers - three immensely fun 2D fighting games that went mostly unnoticed when they were originally released to arcades (in the mid-to-late 1990's, when sexy 3D brawlers were all the rage).
If you saw these games sitting there sandwiched between Super Iron Fist Fighter Ultimate Edition and Virtua Kombat 5, you'd probably overlook them too. On the surface, they look like prototypical one-on-one fighting games featuring large characters, colorful backdrops, and over-the-top attacks. However, the devil is in the details: fighting in the foreground and the background, stages that transition from day to night, and loads of cute random animations that lend a unique touch to every match.
Trading punches and witnessing all of the different special attacks and desperation finishers is sweet. We also like how the environments are interactive. In Real Bout and Real Bout Special, you can shatter the arena boundaries and knock your opponent out-of-bounds - leaving them dizzy or causing them to lose the match altogether. In Real Bout 2, certain stages feature blades or electrical fences that you and your opponent can routinely bounce one another off of.
Watching the Real Bout series evolve by way of this disc will interest serious Fatal Fury fans. In each subsequent game, the character roster expands, the animations become more fluid, and the overall "slick" factor improves. But once you get used to the chatty pre-fight announcer and the seamless panning shots that unveil the fighting arenas in the two later games, it's tough to go back to the first Real Bout, where the arenas aren't as complex and the audio mostly consists of character voices and heavily orchestrated music.
Each game runs great on the PlayStation 2 and backward compatible PlayStation 3 systems. You don't have to endure any loading screens after the title selection screen. Display options let you stretch the screen and apply a smoothing filter, while the audio menu gives you the choice between original music and remixes. You can also edit the character colors, if you want.
Our biggest beef with Volume 2 is the lack of online play (the Japanese version offered it, but cost more). Also, the absence of any sort of bonus content feels like a glaring omission. Considering that this is a collection of classics, some development artwork or historical background would've been nice addition for Fatal Fury fans. Still, we can't whine too loudly, considering that Fatal Fury: Battle Archives Vol. 2 gives you three solid fighting games for roughly the price of a couple fast food lunches.
Apr 23, 2008