Fatal Fury: First Contact was released way back when in 1999 on the Neo Geo Pocket Colour. Now I haven’t had much experience with this console, I’ve never owned one or had the chance to play one. So I was pleasantly surprised with how smoothly the game responded while playing it on my Nintendo Switch. There are some titles that are brought to the modern era of gaming and they remind you that maybe they were best kept in the past, but this wasn’t the case with Fatal Fury: First Contact.
Boasting 13 Characters with an impressive move set for a console that only had a control stick and two buttons, the game surpassed my judgement with great ease. There’s a learning curve here for all fighter fans, understanding the moves that arrive with each character and how to best the opponent. Not to mention the finishing moves. The game feels very pristine in its own way. The animations are smooth and the attention to detail in the backgrounds is incredible. The whole presentation itself feels very polished. It’s remarkable what they were able to achieve considering the technology limitations they had to deal with back then.
The gameplay is single lane. Meaning the characters can not jump between lanes or be hit into the background. However, this portable game was never meant to tackle the large console/arcade opponents of the time and you forgive the small array of movement once you see Terry throw his hat after another victory. I believe the restriction to only a single lane provides an extra challenge within itself, I found myself putting more time into trying out different combos and finishers when I didn’t have to focus so much on movement. I felt as if I had more purpose to the buttons I were pressing rather than just moving my character out of harm’s way.
There is a very specific flow to each encounter. The exaggerated fists and feet when attacking adds to the depth of the game. It feels very satisfying to land a hit or a combo on the opponent. As I mentioned before, the overall game feels very polished but it’s the animations that are the stand out performer.
Unfortunately, the game lacks any narrative or story to follow. It’s your standard gauntlet fighter. You move from one opponent to the next with them progressively becoming harder, much like the arcade modes in many fighting games e.g. Injustice, Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat After a playthrough or two, the game can become monotonous. The repetition in gameplay adds to this, knowing you are just fighting to progress does have its downfalls and I did find myself losing interest. However, I tried to put myself into the perspective of someone playing the game back in 1999. I tried to play it as if I just wanted to get better and better. I wanted to defeat the opponents in a certain way or time myself and see if I was able to pull off a finishing move before the time was up. I tried to play it as if I was standing at an arcade machine. Once I did that, I found myself thoroughly enjoying the experience.
Fatal Fury: First Combat is an underrated game for its time and for now. The game boasts impressive graphics and animations although, let down by the lack of a storyline, this was a ton of fun to play. If you are a fan of fighting games, I’d highly suggest this. I mean, what have you got to lose?
A copy of this game was provided for review purposes.