Fatal Fury: King of Fighters

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Fatal Fury: King of Fighters
Fatal Fury - King of Fighters arcade flyer.jpg
North American Arcade flyer with art by Shinkiro
Director(s)Takashi Nishiyama
Producer(s)Eikichi Kawasaki
Designer(s)Seigo Ito
Takashi Tsukamoto
Composer(s)Hiroshi Matsumoto
Kazuhiro Nishida
Toshikazu Tanaka
SeriesFatal Fury
Mode(s)Single-player, co-op, multiplayer (up to two players)
Arcade systemNeo Geo MVS
CPUM68000 (@ 12 MHz),
Z80A (@ 4 MHz)
SoundYM2610 (@ 8 MHz)[1]
DisplayRaster, 320 × 224 pixels (Horizontal), 4096 colors

Fatal Fury: King of Fighters[a] is a 1991 head-to-head fighting game released by SNK for the Neo Geo arcade and home platforms.[2] Fatal Fury was SNK's first fighting game for the Neo Geo system and served as the inaugural game in their Fatal Fury series, as well as the first game to depict the fictional "King of Fighters" tournament (which became the basis for the later The King of Fighters games). Many of SNK's mainstay characters, including the Bogard brothers Terry and Andy, friend Joe Higashi, and their nemesis Geese Howard, made their debut in this game.


Gameplay screenshot showcasing a match with Terry Bogard performing his signature "Power Wave" move against Richard Myer.

The gameplay follows the typical formula of most fighting games: the player competes against their opponent in best two-out-of-three matches. The play controls consists of an eight directional joystick and three attack buttons: punch, kick and throw. Each of the playable characters has special techniques that are performed by inputting specific commands in combination with the joystick and buttons. The input methods for special moves are shown to the player during the course of the game (after every bonus round), as opposed to being given in an instruction card in the game's cabinet.

The most novel aspect of Fatal Fury were the addition of two-lane battles. Many stages featured two rows, a background row and a foreground row. Players can change between rows at any time other than in the Single Player Mode, where they have to wait for the CPU opponent to change rows before they can in almost every stage. The player is not required, however, to do so. When a second player joins during the middle of a one-player fight, instead of postponing the current battle for a match between the two players, the game will make both players team-up against the current CPU opponent in a two-on-one match before their battle takes place. After every second match in the single player tournament, the player will participate in a bonus round mini-game involving an arm wrestling match against a machine. The player must tap the A button rapidly to win these mini-games.[3]


The game was designed by Takashi Nishiyama, the creator of the original Street Fighter (1987). Fatal Fury, which Nishiyama envisioned as a spiritual successor to Street Fighter, was developed around the same time as Street Fighter II (1991). While Street Fighter II placed more emphasis on combos, Fatal Fury placed more emphasis on the timing of special moves as well as storytelling.[4]


The plot of Fatal Fury centers around a martial arts tournament known as the "King of Fighters" tournament, held in the fictional American city of South Town and sponsored by local crime boss Geese Howard. Ten years prior to the events of the game, Geese murdered a rival martial artist named Jeff Bogard who was on his trail. Now, Jeff's adopted sons, Terry and Andy, along with their friend Joe Higashi, enter the tournament to get their revenge on Geese.


At the beginning of the game, the player is asked to select between Terry, Andy and Joe. The player is then asked to select from one of four fighters as their first opponent: Duck King, Richard Meyer, Michael Max, and Tung Fu Rue. After defeating their first opponent, the player faces the other three opponents in the following order: Richard, Michael, Duck, Tung. The cycle begins at whichever opponent the player has selected. The last three opponents before Geese are fought in the following order: Hwa Jai, Raiden and Billy Kane.

Playable characters
CPU-controlled characters
  • Duck King - A street dancing talent who uses a "rhythmical" fighting style.
  • Richard Meyer - A capoeira master with numerous kick techniques.
  • Michael Max - A boxer who has a projectile attack called the Tornado Upper (similar to Joe's Hurricane Upper).
  • Tung Fu Rue - A Bajiquan expert. At first he appears as a meek elderly master, but after taking enough damage he turns into a musclebound beast with a spinning clothesline and a fireball shooting kick.
  • Hwa Jai - A Muay Thai master from Thailand who gains his strength from drinking an unknown liquor. His special technique is a flying knee kick called Dragon Kick, similar to Joe's Tiger Kick.
  • Raiden - A heel wrestler who has a poisonous vapor breath technique.
  • Billy Kane - A Bōjutsu master who serves as the tournament's undefeated champion.
  • Geese Howard - The final boss. An underworld crime boss and sponsor of the "King of Fighters" tournament. After defeating Billy, the player's character is kidnapped by Geese's men and taken to his building, Geese Tower, for the game's final battle. His fighting style is aikido and has a projectile attack similar to Terry's Power Wave called the Reppuken or Violent Wave Fist. He can also throw his opponent after blocking a close range attack (this technique is called Ateminage or Knockdown Blow). When the player loses to Geese, instead of the standard continue screen, they witness their character falling off from Geese Tower. However, if the player wins, their character will knock off Geese from his building, seemingly killing him.

Console versions[edit]

  • The Super NES version of Fatal Fury, published by Takara and developed by Nova, was published in Japan in 1992 and in North America during the following year. This version discards the two-lane system in favor of a more conventional one lane plane. The two-on-one battles are gone and the arm wrestling bonus rounds are replaced by new bonus rounds involving the main character punching flying tires. In the game's Versus Mode, all of the CPU-controlled characters are playable, albeit only on the second player's side. Players could also pick the same main character (in an alternate color).
  • The Mega Drive/Genesis version was released in 1993, published by Sega in Japan and by Takara in North America. This version removes the characters of Hwa Jai and Billy Kane from the roster, relegating them to background cameos. Instead, the player faces against the other two main characters during the course of the single-player mode. This version allows both players to play as the CPU-controlled characters in the game's Versus Mode (with Geese Howard available via a cheat code).
  • An X68000 version produced by Mahou Kabushikigaisha (Magical Company) was released in Japan only on May 21, 1993.
  • An emulation of the original Neo Geo game is included along with its sequels Fatal Fury 2, Fatal Fury Special and Fatal Fury 3, in the compilation Fatal Fury: Battle Archives Vol. 1 for the PlayStation 2. This version includes an option for the original arcade soundtrack or an arranged soundtrack composed specifically for the compilation.
  • The Neo Geo version of Fatal Fury has been released by D4 Enterprise as part of the Virtual Console downloadable lineup for the Wii. Later it became available on the Nintendo Switch's eShop.
  • The original Fatal Fury is also included in SNK Arcade Classics Vol. 1, released for the PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, and Wii.
  • The Neo Geo version is available on PlayStation Network as part of SNK's Neo Geo Station lineup.


Review scores
CVGNeo Geo: 94%[5]
Genesis: 85%[6]
GameFanGenesis: 348 / 400[7]
GameProNeo Geo: 5 / 5[8]
MaximumNeo Geo: 2/5 stars[9]

In a retrospective review, Maximum commented that the game failed to offer any real competition for Street Fighter II in either playability or character selection. They concluded, "The only main point in this game's favour is that two of the characters may team together to take on a computer opponent in a three-player frenzy, and the game also tries to offer something else new with a two-tier playing arena, but the slow action and the disgracefully difficult fireball motions make special moves something of a rare occurrence."[9]


  1. ^ Also known as Legend of the Hungry Wolf: The Battle of Destiny (Japanese: 餓狼伝説 ~宿命の闘い~, Hepburn: Garō Densetsu: Shukumei no Tatakai) in Japan.


  1. ^ "SNK NeoGeo MVS Hardware (SNK)". system16.com. Retrieved 2019-06-02.
  2. ^ "Oh! Neo Geo Vol. 6 - 餓狼伝説". Beep! MegaDrive (in Japanese). No. 41. SoftBank Creative. February 1993. p. 134.
  3. ^ Fatal Fury user's manual (Neo Geo AES, US)
  4. ^ Leone, Matt. "The Man Who Created Street Fighter". 1UP.com. Archived from the original on January 22, 2012. Retrieved 19 December 2011.
  5. ^ https://archive.org/stream/computer-video-games-magazine-124/CVG124_Mar_1992#page/n63/mode/1up
  6. ^ Computer and Video Games, issue 138, pages 62-63
  7. ^ GameFan, volume 1, issue 5 (April 1993), pages 14 & 24-25
  8. ^ GamePro, issue 34 (August 1992), page 66
  9. ^ a b "Fatal Fury: First in the Fatal Series". Maximum: The Video Game Magazine. Emap International Limited (4): 42. March 1996.

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