Thursday, December 06, 2007

Fatal Fury backgrounds

Fatal Fury was better on it's backgrounds than Street Fighter. Of course, it also came out a few years later, so they had the benefit of better technology and more experience. Even so, Fatal Fury's backgrounds---like every other aspect of the game today---are crude and primitive compared to what was to follow. SNK really liked to have crowd scenes; folks sitting around watching the fight.

Unfortunately, they used the exact same people in every background, and they only had about six of them. If you scrolled a little bit to the left or right they started repeating themselves. The people also looked really strange and cartoony. Still, there was room to improve on that front in years to come.

However, even in this picture of South Beach at sunset, you can see the pretty nifty Toyota Jeep, the detailed palm trees, and the very pretty view fo the city across the harbor.

Another notable feature of SNK backgrounds is that they often changed as you completed more rounds. The typical progression was that they had a version that took place during the day, one at sunset and one after dark. This was originally simply accomplished by switching up the palette of colors used in the image, but in later games, this often became more sophisticated; my favorite such background progression is the Park from King of Fighters '99. The first image is a beautiful day in the park and all kinds of people are out. The second image removes most of the people, turns it into a dark cloudy sky with a few animated bits of lightning and a few patters of rain in the foreground. Finally, it's pouring down rain, the entire background turns washed out and blurry.

Great progression. But still many years to come. For now, we've got my personal favorites from Fatal Fury: Tung Fu Rue's stage, and the final stage of Geese himself:

Tung Fu Rue's stage gets rain in the second round too, but it looks terrible.
The Fatal Fury soundtrack doesn't really stand out to me, but I have a lot to say about Fatal Fury 2 and Fatal Fury Special. But before I do that, I'll have a look at the Street Fighter 2 backgrounds and BGM tracks.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Street Fighter backgrounds

As promised, I'm going to start my backgrounds and music section. I figgered why not go all the way back to 1987 when the first Street Fighter game came out and really kinda kicked the genre off.

Well, once reason why not is that I'm having a hard time finding good screenshots (and I certainly can't take any of my own; I have the game on an Xbox Capcom Classics Collection 2 disk) and another reason is that the music is kinda forgetable and none of it stands out to me.

Yes, I have actually gone to the menu and played the various music tracks. They really don't stand out.

The backgrounds themselves were great for their time, but like everything else associated with the original Street Fighter game have aged poorly. Only a couple of them hold up well compared to even SF2 backgrounds, much less SFA and later backgrounds.

That said, a few of them are quite nice. I couldn't find a good screenshot of Adon's place, but it's my favorite, in Tailand (SIC, but that's what the game says.) It takes place at sunset and there's a large (although not fat) squatting Buddha in the background surrounded by several pillars. In front of the statue is a pool of water, reflecting a bit of the pillars, statue and orange sky. There's also a lot of vegetation around; palm trees, horsetails and grass, and in the distance is a forest/jungle. Behind that is a row of low distant hills.

Beautiful background. Would look adequate if not good in a modern game. Looked amazing in 1987. On the other hand, we have Gen's nighttime in Shanghai scene, which was an early attempt at making an urban backdrop. It looks really fake. Everything is too regular in dimension. Much better version of this have since made appearances---see Gen's SFA2 stage for a great update on this idea.

Honorable mention goes to several others, including Joe's trainyard in NYC (apparently) Mike's fight in South Dakota right in front of Mt. Rushmore, and the two Japanese stages.

Tomorrow: Fatal Fury.

Here's a few images I was able to find online, at least. Not Adon's and not Gen's, but Mike's and Retsu's. You get a flavor for the artistry of this game here.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Tomorrow, or tonight, or whenever I have some time, I want to spend just a little bit of time discussing an oft-overlooked, yet very important aspect of fighting games---the ambiance.

Yeah, gameplay is really important. Interesting characters are a must. At the same time, a dissonant or unpleasing setting can make even a game with great gameplay and characters a challenge to really enjoy.

So, by ambiance, what I really mean are the stages on which the fights take place, and the music that accompanies them. There have been some really beautiful works of music and art as stages in the genre, but there's also been some real clunkers. For some games, it's literally enough to break the game for me when gameplay and characters are fine (Marvel vs. Capcom 2 being the most notable example here; bland, boring stages and horribly inappopriate music make the game take a serious nosedive in the rankings as far as I'm concerned.)

What I'd like to do is take some of the most important games in the genre and talk about my favorite pieces of music and stages... as well as the ones that really need to go. This new series of posts will start... tonight? tomorrow? later this week?

Soon, anyway. Complete with screenshots that I'm going to crib from various online sources, if possible.

Fatal Fury

I've been going through another phase of really liking my Japanese anime fighting games. For some reason, though, King of Fighters has been letting me down and I've been really excited about Fatal Fury. Maybe the series just feels "cozier" or something to me; maybe it's the fact that it stands up so well as a head-to-head competitor with Street Fighter---I don't know.

Fatal Fury is entering a phase of unprecedented availability at home in the US. Right now, Fatal Fury Special is available for $5 on Xbox Live. Fatal Fury itself was just announced for the Wii arcade. The PS2 just got the Fatal Fury Battle Archive 1 released, which has Fatal Fury, Fatal Fury 2, Fatal Fury Special and Fatal Fury 3 included. This spring we'll see Fatal Fury Battle Archive 2 which will have the three Real Bout titles on it.

All of the Fatal Fury titles are also available on although you have to have a "Gold" membership to play them (for that matter, so are all of the King of Fighters titles up through 2003.)

If you want to play a Fatal Fury game, for the first time, it's actually fairly easy to do so.