As someone who wasn’t able to play a Neogeo Pocket growing up, I really like that SNK has decided to port these retro titles to newer hardware. This time, the developer has brought there chibi-fighter Fatal Fury: First Contact to Switch, which shows a few advancements in terms of the team figuring out how to get the most of the two action button system.
Fatal Fury: First Contact doesn’t really give you much to work off as the game only has you choose to fight with 1 or 2 players. Selecting 1 player will then lead you to the character roster, which has 11 characters to choose from at first. Strangely, you’re also tasked with choosing your CPU opponent, so if you have trouble with any of these fighters, then putting them first might be beneficial to your progress.
The character roster is packed with characters from the series, including Terry and Mai, but the game also has a secret character, Lao, accessible in the 2-player mode. Sadly, there isn’t much here in terms of narratives or story unlockables, but an additional character is available to unlock after you play through a series of fights.
The animations for Fatal Fury: First Contact are fluid and nice to look at. Knowing that the developer was able to create such a fun fighter on this hardware is amazing. The characters each have lengthy combos, and the inputs are responsive while in a fight. Characters also have special attacks, with some even using their elemental abilities to cause extra damage.
The fun that this specific game delivers is more on the nostalgic level as I don’t see anyone picking it up to take it seriously. Sadly, the lack of extra things to do keeps it a straightforward fighter. It works if you enjoy the systems and animations, but if you’re looking for depth, then I’m sure you can find that in other SNK games.
The fighting systems are rather solid for the entry, and I felt like the developer improved in terms of the characters’ speed and response. This allowed for more offensive gameplay styles instead of taking things slow, if only because the animations weren’t as responsive in previous games. This also shows in the lengthier combos that are fun to watch and easy to execute.
Creating a fun fighter with only a d-pad and two buttons doesn’t seem easy to pull off. However, SNK created an excellent button scheme here that allows for throws, blocks, specials, long combos, and projectiles to incorporate into your fights. The longer the game progresses, the tougher the enemies become, so there is an increasing level of difficulty as you make your way through the fights.
As a modern release, there are some improved game elements, such as pixel-perfect playing options, but you can also zoom in on the screen to get a better look at the action. The developer also included a digital manual to preserve the game’s history and a rewind feature to take the impact of losing off of the player and correct those mistakes.
I think the sound of Fatal Fury: First Contact is as well crafted as the animations were. They complement the game’s various environments and give it a fun vibe overall. This also shows up in the playing design of the chibi characters and their facial experiences.
Fatal Fury: First Contact may not make you a fan of the NeoGeo Pocket fighters due to its lack of additional content, but there is a rather enjoyable fighter for those looking for a nostalgia trip. The animations and pixel designs are gorgeous, but I couldn’t help but want more to do.
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