|Fatal Fury and The King of Fighters character|
Rock Howard in NeoGeo Battle Coliseum
|First game||Garou: Mark of the Wolves (1999)|
Jon Thomas (KOF: MI)
Mike Lane (KOF: MI2/2006)
Eiji Takemoto (debut - KOF: MIRA)
Yuuma Uchida (KOF XIV)
Ami Koshimizu (young; KOF: D)
|Fighting style||Martial Arts and inherited Ancient Martial Arts (古武術 Kobujutsu)|
Rock Howard (ロック・ハワード Rokku Hawādo) is a video game character appearing in various games from SNK. Rock makes his first appearance as a playable character in the fighting game Garou: Mark of the Wolves, the last chapter in the Fatal Fury series, as the new lead character from the series. Rock appears in the series as the son of Geese Howard, the main antagonist from the previous Fatal Fury games, who was killed by Terry Bogard. However, Terry started to take care of Rock to the point he teaches him to fight. Besides his appearance in Mark of the Wolves, Rock is featured in few games from The King of Fighters series as well as various crossovers from SNK. He was voiced by Eiji Takemoto (竹本 英史) since debut until Maximum Impact Regulation A, later voiced by Yuuma Uchida (内田雄馬). In the English edition of KOF: Maximum Impact he is voiced by Jon Thomas, and by Mike Lane in its sequel.
Rock has also been featured in manwhua adaptations from the games he has appeared as well as the anime The King of Fighters Another Day. Rock's character has received various responses from video games publications. His debut in Mark of the Wolves has been highly praised by reviewers although some of them considered his character to be too strong in comparison to the others. However, his development in the KOF: Maximum Impact series has been criticized due to his English voice actor and his new outfit.
Conception and design
The character of Rock Howard was created by Nobuyuki Kuroki in 1998. Both he and Yasuyuki Oda wondered what how what type of hero would succeed Terry Bogard in Fatal Fury's latest game, Garou: Mark of the Wolves. While they were not confident with Rock, they still decided to make him as the new protagonist. According to Oda, Rock was originally a weak character in his own debut. As a result, the staff highly worked in Rock's fighting style from The King of Fighters XIV to be more powerful and at the same time become more popular. At the same time, SNK wanted Rock to retain many of his original traits from Garou such as the way he moves his gloves among others.
Rock has blond hair and red eyes. He appears in most games wearing a red, black and white leather jacket. Under the jacket, he has a black T-shirt with short sleeves. He additionally sports black gloves, black leather pants and black shoes. Several of the Miera brothers' prototype designs were assigned to other characters' alternate outfits; in this case, Alba's prototype design became Rock's alternate outfit. Such extra outfit shows him with a brown jacket similar to Terry's in Mark of the Wolves. He also sports jeans and gloves from different colors. His hair is additionally more spiky than how it normally is. Two of his extra outfits from KOF: Maximum Impact 2 are also cosplays from Kaede, the lead character from The Last Blade, and Kain R. Heinlein, the final boss from Garou: Mark of the Wolves.
In spite of his father's ways, Rock is a warm, friendly and compassionate young man, possessing Terry's strong sense of justice and heroism. Every day, Rock fights off his evil side and tries to get out of the shadow of his father. He is the middle term between Geese's excessive evil and Terry's excessive festive personality. Rock is also a very compassionate man, offering to help those in need such as helping Hotaru Futaba to find her older brother. He also tends to be very uncomfortable and nervous around women, having been raised by men nearly all of his life.
His move list is an amalgam of Terry and Geese. He possesses several of Geese's trademark moves such as the Wind Slice (烈風拳 Reppuken) and the Double Wind Slice (ダブル烈風拳 Daburu Reppuken), in which he throws various energy waves to the ground. He also has the Raging Storm (レイジングストーム Reijingu Sutōmu) that sends energy to an entire area, the Shinkunage throw, reversals, and the Deadly Rave (デッドリーレイブ Deddorī Reibu). Moves loaned from Terry include the Rising Tackle (ライジングタックル), a series of ascendent kicks, variants of various moves from Terry, including the Shine Knuckle (シャインナックル), which is a DM version of Terry's Burn Knuckle. Also, his Crack Counter is a reversal that can be directed high or low akin to Geese, where upon succeeding, Rock slams an opponent with a kick that resembles Terry's Crack Shot. In comparison with his father, Rock still lacks the control over his "evil blood", which boils from time to time hurting him after ending a combat with the Raging Storm and the Deadly Rave. Thus, most of moves taken from his father take him more time for recovering or are less powerful. However, the precedent of his lineage states that Rock has not reached the top of his game yet.
Rock makes his first appearance in Fatal Fury 3: Road to the Final Victory, in which it is revealed how he becomes friends with Terry Bogard. After Terry kills Geese, he adopts Rock, whom he takes care of like his son. Rock becomes a playable character in Garou: Mark of the Wolves, having lived with Terry for ten years. During this time, a new King of Fighters tournament arose under the name "Maximum Mayhem", which Rock and Terry both decide to compete in. By the end of the tournament, Rock finds his final opponent is Kain R. Heinlein, who reveals himself to be both the host and Rock's uncle. Kain, aware that Geese Howard's will held presumably valuable secrets but unable to discover them without assistance, wins Rock's aid in working through the document by offering information regarding Rock's mother—whom Kain claimed was still alive. Terry accepts Rock's decision to become Kain's new partner, with Rock promising to return. In his development blog for KOF: Maximum Impact 2, Ureshino states that he doesn't know about Rock's mother or the true inheritor of Geese's legacy but hints that it would most likely conflict with Terry.
Despite making several cameos in games from The King of Fighters series, Rock was only playable in the spin-off games KOF: Maximum Impact and Maximum Impact 2 for the several years. Both games feature Rock entering into King of Fighters tournaments developed in Southtown prior to the events of Mark of the Wolves. Rock makes his first playable appearance in a mainline King of Fighters title in The King of Fighters XIV, being added to the game via post-launch downloadable content. Rock also appears as a playable character in the crossover video games NeoGeo Battle Coliseum and Capcom vs. SNK 2.
Rock also appears in the 2006 original net animation The King of Fighters: Another Day. In the second episode Rock finds Lien Neville fighting Billy Kane, Geese's former right-hand man, in the Geese Tower. As Lien is about to be killed, Rock saves her, which enrages Billy as he cannot believe that he is Geese's son. As Billy attacks Rock, Lien shoots a laser that takes Billy out of the tower. Memories of Stray Wolves, a twenty-minute featurette serves as a retrospective of the Fatal Fury series, with Terry narrating the events of the games to Rock. The first seven volumes from the manhua The King of Fighters 2003 by Wing Yen features a short chapter from Garou: Mark of the Wolves based on Rock's training with Terry. In the last of the chapters, Rock fights Grant, who is revealed to be a childhood friend who always protected him. Despite feeling sad for fighting his friend, Rock defeats Grant in order to meet the host of the Maximum Mayhem tournament, his uncle, Kain.
Rock was voted as the number one favorite character with 190 votes at the time of his debut in Garou: Mark of the Wolves in a popularity poll from such game developed by SNK. Video games publications have commented on Rock's character, with most of them praising his debut and development in various game. Anthony Chau from IGN noted Rock to be one of the most notable characters from Mark of the Wolves. However, he commented that his moveset was very unbalanced in comparison to the ones from other characters, becoming one of the strongest characters from the game. Gamesarefun.com writer Andrew McClure labelled Rock's moves to be a cross between Terry Bogard and Geese Howard with the exception of Geese's "pretzel" strongest moves. He additionally liked Rock's development in various games, praising his appearance in Capcom vs. SNK 2. Greg Kasavin from GameSpot agreed on this, praising him to be one of the most notable additions from Capcom vs. SNK 2.
Kurt Kalata from Armchairempire liked the creation of NeoGeo Battle Coliseum as it allowed players to use both Geese and Rock for the first time due to how story is behind these two characters and how popular they are. Like Chau from IGN, Kasavin from GameSpot also complained on how much powerful and fast was Rock but in KOF: Maximum Impact, commenting that he has "no real weakness" even though if the player uses his moves several times. Jon Thomas, Rock's English voice actor for KOF: Maximum Impact has been criticized by Ryan Genno from Gamingtarget.com to be one of the worst from the game as gives Rock "as much emotion as a block of cheese." The alternative costume for his character in KOF: Maximum Impact 2 has also been criticized by Luke Albiges from Eurogamer who noted it to just look "plain wrong", ruining Rock's "seminal badass" appearance. Den of Geek found Rock's debut in KOF's main series with The King of Fighters XIV interesting due to the fact in this timeline his father is alive unlike in the Fatal Fury one.
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Rock: If it's okay with you, I'll look for your brother.
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Rock: Man, this sucks. I hate fighting with chicks.
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Rock: Why does my evil blood boil?
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Terry: Oh, enough of this senseless combat! Let's be friends. Call me, pop, son!
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Rock: The semifinals. If I win.../Terry: You'll know your lineage./Rock: I know Terry. No mercy for you./Terry: Funny! Let's see your stuff. Young wolf cub!
- SNK (November 1999). Garou: Mark of the Wolves. Arcade. SNK. Level/area: Rock Howard ending.
Rock:Well, answer me! Why use my mother...to summon me here? You're really mother's.../Kain: I did it all...for the legacy of Geese Howard!/Rock: Geese Howard? Legacy?/Kain: After his death...his will was found...But...it's true message...was indecipherable to all.../Rock: You think I understand you? Too bad. It's Greek to me! Try someone else, freak./Kain: Hmm... Even if I know...your mother's alive?/Terry: Rock! Where are you?/Kain: Welcome, Terry Bogard./Terry: Why you! Where's Rock?/Kain: Rock? He's here, of course./Terry: Rock!/Kain: He's with me now, blondie! We're team now. So back off, wolf boy!/Terry: What's going on, Rock?!/Rock: Don't talk me out of this. When my accounts are settled, I shall return to this town./Terry:So be it! It's your choice. Just know I believe in you!/Rock: Forgive me...Terry./Kain: What do we do now, partner?
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