Neo Geo Reviews E-F

Eight Man
Grade: C-
Publisher: SNK (1991)
Reviewed: 2003/6/17

screenshotYou can usually pick up this side-scroller for pretty cheap, but there's a reason for that. The game provides some generic punch and kick action, but nothing more. Eight Man himself looks like a full-grown Mega-Man - in other words a complete dork. Still, as fast as Eight Man moves, you're not likely to notice how dumb his outfit looks. The action is spastic with multitudes of explosions and endless look-alike thugs.

The action is fast and repetitive, and you can get into a Matrix-like groove in the middle of it all. Unlike other games like Ninja Combat, Eight Man can handle just about everything thrown his way. He has rapid-fire kicks and punches, as well as bombs for tight situations. There's some platform jumping, but nothing too difficult. The characters are large and colorful but not interesting, and the bosses are forgettable as well.

The single unique aspect of Eight Man is the "running" stages, which lets him do his thing while running at blazing speeds. But since your enemies move just as fast, the gameplay isn't much different after all, and in fact these stages are less fun. The two-player simultaneous mode is supposed to incorporate some cooperative moves, but the screen gets too hectic to tell what's going on. Stick to the single-player mode for best results. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 14000
1 or 2 players 

Fatal Fury
Grade: D
Publisher: SNK (1991)
Reviewed: 2020/4/28

screenshotAs the first one-on-one SNK fighter Fatal Fury shines with bright arcade-style graphics. The fighters are huge and the stages are visual smorgasbords. The colors just leap off the screen from the glimmering blue waters of "Sound Beach" to the deep red sunset of the amusement park. And I always love those city skylines in the distance. Stages even change between rounds. In the dojo area storm clouds gather early only to produce a heavy downpour in a later round. The beach is sunny during round one, but has a whole different vibe as day turns to night with buildings lit up on the opposite shore.

The three playable characters - Terry Bogard, Andy Borgard, and Joe Higashi - would become the core of the Fatal Fury series. The remaining eight would come and go. Duck King is a dancer with a mohawk and MC Hammer-style baggy pants. Billy Kane wields a staff and Richard Myer kicks while hanging from the ceiling. Riden is a huge wrestler and Tung Fu Rue is an elderly Asian man who occasionally transforms into Hulk Hogan. Michael Max is a Balrog rip-off and Geese Howard is the main villain. The only guy missing is the one on the front cover who looks like Patrick Swayze.

The fighting action moves between foreground and background, with fighters exchanging flying punches and knee thrusts while moving between. I've been playing this game for a long time and I'm still not sure how that whole system works. Special moves deal serious damage but they are hard to execute, and of course the CPU always seems to know when they're coming. I couldn't help but notice Michael Max's "tornado uppercut" looks suspiciously like Joe Higashi's "hurricane uppercut".

The time limit for each round is 45 seconds - half that of Street Fighter II (SNES, 1992) - which keeps the fights short and sweet. There's also a bonus arm-wrestling stage. The music has an edgy quality and there are even vocals in the cantina stage. Fatal Fury has a wonderful arcade sensibility but its gameplay left plenty of room for improvement. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 74600
1 or 2 players 

Fatal Fury 2
Grade: D+
Publisher: SNK (1992)
Reviewed: 2020/4/28

screenshot"Again... legendary men... return." So begins the second chapter of SNK's original fighting series. This time you get eight playable fighters - a big step up from just three! Among them is the hulking Big Bear, old man Jubei Yamada, and that lard-ass Cheng Sinzan (who bites, by the way). SNK even had the audacity to add a female into the mix in the form of sex pot Mai Shiranui. I like how the stage intro screen has a banner underneath its rotating globe that reads "Conqer the World".

The controls employ all four buttons now - two punches and two kicks. The fighting action still feels a bit halting, and I was only able to perform special moves like Terry's "Burning Knuckle" on occasion. The fact that the fighters move between two planes is confusing but it certainly does set the series apart. I noticed it's now possible to become dazed for a surprisingly long period of time.

The stages are more fantastical than the first game and a few are just plain cheesy. I didn't care for the western train stage that passes in front of Mount Rushmore, or the raft stage with waterfalls better suited for Sonic the Hedgehog (Genesis, 1991). Is this a fighting game or an amusement park ride? The Hong Kong stage is best because it exudes a sense of atmosphere and is at least somewhat realistic. Fatal Fury 2 does a good job of expanding the playable roster but lacks the arcade appeal of the original. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 54200
1 or 2 players 

Fatal Fury 3
Grade: B
Publisher: SNK (1995)
Reviewed: 2020/4/29


screenshot"Lone wolves are back!" After treading water for a couple of years the Fatal Fury series finally made the big leap with Fatal Fury 3: Road to the Final Victory. Beginning with its cinematic opening, everything about this game is bigger and bolder. The controls are more responsive, the action faster, and intensity higher. Combination moves make it possible to deal multiple blows in one attack and that's very satisfying.

For the first time I could feel myself getting into a rhythm playing a Fatal Fury game. A dodge move has replaced the dual-plane mechanic, and the new taunts are highly entertaining. The roster is scaled down to ten characters but it's a case of quality over quantity. New characters include Rastafaria Bob Wilson, Raiden-esque Sokaku Mochizuki, and a tall Italian boxer named Frano Bash. A second female (Blue Mary) joins a sleeker Mai Shiranui. I'm a big fan of Hon Fu because he has a Bruce Lee thing going on with those nunchucks of his.

New stage locations include a cathedral, aquarium, airplane factory, and a moody nightclub. Why in the world does the dusty western town have a storefront sign that says "Joy Division"? My favorite stage is the crane which rises to gradually reveal a breathtaking, multi-layered skyline. I love the new witty banter displayed before and after each match - it's actually quite funny. One annoyance is how hard it can be to deliver that final blow to knock your opponent out when he's on the ropes. When Franco is defeated he yells "Oh my God!!!"

After each match you're assessed a "fighting level" letter grade. There's even an options screen. Fatal Fury 3 raises the bar for fun and excitement, delivering the richness of a modern fighter while retaining the arcade charm of the original. But before you close the book on the Fatal Fury series, I should tell you that the "Real Bout" trilogy was its immediate successor, so the fight's far from over. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 158200
1 or 2 players 

Fatal Fury Special
Grade: C-
Publisher: SNK (1993)
Reviewed: 2020/4/29

screenshotFatal Fury Special arrived third in the series, so why not just call it Fatal Fury 3? Because it's really an incremental improvement over the previous game. There's a better intro and a stage select. You get 15 playable fighters instead of eight. The new villain, Wolfgang Krauser, is playable as is the villain from the first game, Geese Howard. There's still only a lone female, Mai Shiranui. One new stage begins with the camera panning down from the sky, and that's pretty cool.

The pacing is faster in Special, making it a little easier to execute special moves. New moves including the ability to knock your opponent out towards the screen! I also noticed you can taunt your opponent. Pressing combinations of buttons lets you move between two planes, which adds depth if you can figure out how to use it to your advantage. Fatal Fury Special also ramps up the difficulty; you'll need to pull out all the stops to win each match! It feels like an expansion pack of Fatal Fury 2, but was probably enough to tide fans over until Fatal Fury 3. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: 29900
1 or 2 players 

Football Frenzy
Grade: D+
Publisher: SNK (1990)
Reviewed: 2002/9/6

screenshotFootball Frenzy had some serious potential, but serious flaws in the passing game prevent it from being great. Fast, button-tapping arcade action is what this game is all about, and Football Frenzy certainly lives up to its name. The players are large and nicely animated, and tapping the A button increases your speed. The defense can always see what play you choose, but it doesn't make much difference.

Running the ball is a lot of fun and you can sometimes squeeze between a gang of tacklers. But passing? Forget it! Most of your receivers are off-screen, and the softly thrown balls are easily picked off by defenders. Half of the passes are intercepted!

That's a shame, because Football Frenzy has some amazing features. The camera zooms in on running plays, and the tackles look great. Cheerleaders provide a provocative halftime show, and best of all, the music absolutely rocks! I'm telling you, these tunes really get your adrenaline going. But without a decent passing attack, Frenzy ultimately falls short. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 


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