Ryo Sakazaki and Robert Garcia are two martial artist on a mission. Ryo's sister has been kidnapped and it's up to the two to find her. Their path is cluttered with formidable martial artists, bar room brawlers, and thugs. The two will have to be at the top of their game if they want to see Yuri again.-summary
SNK was on a mission, and that mission was to conquer the fighting game genre in the arcades of the early to mid 90's. They began with Fatal Fury, and Art of Fightingwould be their second attempt. Art of Fighting did borrow elements from Street Fighter 2, but I wouldn't consider it at all to be a clone, because once again SNKwould take steps at developing a fighting game that was unique in its own way. The company would continue to be innovative, and they introduced new techniques to the fighting genre.
The Art of Fighting series would go on to do pretty well and develop a following. This anthology collects the only three games of the series which were released during the years of 1992, 1994, and 1996 respectively. The games are arcade perfect, but that's not exactly a good thing though.
Art of Fighting is a 2-D, two player game with 8 playable characters and two secret characters. Unfortunately, there are only two playable characters for the story mode, but the vs. mode features the rest. The style of the game is indeed original. The fighting engine uses a zoom in and zoom out feature. When the fighters become spread out, the length of the battle field can be seen completely. The characters can use a wall jump to close the distance, which is very similar to Chun-Li's wall bounce of Street Fighter fame. But I think the biggest feature would have to be SNK's introduction of the spirit meter. This is a second bar that can be depleted when the characters perform their special moves. After a move has been used, the bar doesn't only drain, but the overall power of the move is also diminished. When the bar is blue, the moves are at full power and projectile attacks will shoot across the screen. However, when the bar becomes red or is empty, the character will go through the movement, but the projectile will vanish at hands length. SNK made an attempt at capturing some type of realism and they definitely succeeded. You will see more of what they had to offer when trying to capture a realistic feel.
Art of Fighting 2 is an upgrade, and SNK decided to make all of the characters playable from go, with their own stories and this bloats the character selection to 12. The game uses the exact same fighting engine, except the gameplay is a little faster this time around. Art of Fighting 3 is the best of the series, with a more fluid fighting engine, and almost all of the original characters discarded in favor of a brand new roster with 10 characters.
The first two games have an insane difficulty. Make no mistake, the AI can be very hard and will give you a bad beating. This will even occur on the easiest difficulty settings, in addition, the lousy hit detection doesn't help matters either. The game also contains bonus stages in the first two that must be completed. When the player passes these stages, the character's spirit and strength will increase, to include, you will learn a move called the "super death blow". I have a huge problem with this. I never saw the point in making the game even more difficult. The AI can be very tough, and it would've made perfect sense to give the characters all of their abilities from the very start. Should the player happen to fail all of these side missions, the game will be much harder to beat, probably damn near impossible. Thankfully, part 3 doesn't suffer from this crippling disadvantage, since the spirit and life bars are completely full, and the moves can be used from the start. I will also mention that even though it's a fighting game, SNK actually put in the effort to deliver a narrative. The story unfolds after every battle, with very small cutscenes consisting of dialogue between characters.
This is the area that buries the first two games. Never mind that the AI always seems to have an advantage over you. But these busted controls makes fighting even more difficult. Good luck performing the special moves. The directional pad motions have to be GREATLY exaggerated, and this causes a problem when the CPU is coming at you without mercy.
The control set up is pretty basic for Art of Fighting. It features a punch, kick, throw, and an additional attack button that performs a stronger punch or kick, depending on what attack button you previously used. The shoulder buttons combines the moves, and the characters will perform additional attacks, that are very useful in battle.
Art of Fighting 2's control scheme is a little more different. The power of the attack is decided upon how hard the attack buttons are pressed. For example, a quick and light punch will be performed if the buttons are tapped, but with a bit more pressure, the attack will be a lot stronger. In other words, a simple jab, will become a straight hook or an uppercut and regular low kicks will become full sweeps. However, once again, good luck performing any moves. Eventually, the game will become a test of patience.
Art of Fighting 3, the controls are much more responsive and a lot more fluid. The game also features a new fighting engine. Now the attack buttons string together attacks. If the timing is perfect, then lengthy combos can be performed. But if the timing is off, then you're set-up for a massive counter-attack. It pretty much takes practice to get this down.
Although visually the game is not really impressive by today's standards. But the style has to be commended. Art of Fighting continues with the realism by displaying bruised up, and bloody faces during battle. The characters faces will be mangled during each round, but it doesn't effect the gameplay itself though. The character designs compliments the character stages tremendously. Every last one of the characters appear to fit perfectly with their environment. From the overweight biker/bar room brawler, who battles you in a dingy looking bar with spectators that match the setting. As well as a thug wearing a tank top with a headband, in a gritty looking alley way in a crime-laden city. Art of Fighting 2 for the most part follows this as well, but I can't say the same for Art of Fighting 3 though.
Art of Fighting 2 also features round ending finishers. These occur when the opponent is finished off with a special attack. They will fall defeated in a certain way, such as girls shirts being busted open, or guys mask being knocked off or something. There is nice detail during these segments. The game encourages you to win the deciding round with a finisher.
Unfortunately, the graphics also has its downside. The first two games has some bad animation, with the characters looking incredibly stiff. The movements can be just bad at times. The third game has some nice animation with fluid movements and details. You can actually see the creases in Ryo's pants, and very fluid motions for fighting styles. Overall, the third game has a nice polished look. The backgrounds are very beautiful with waterfalls looking very clear and detailed.
The BGM is very good for the first two games especially. The songs fit very well with the characters and stage settings, and it adds to the overall style of the game. There are also a couple of songs that would later go on to become fan favorites, and will be used again during the King of Fighter's series. The sound effects are pretty cool for projectile attacks and during the bone crushing throws. The throws actually sound very painful, especially in Art of Fighting 2. Sadly, Art of Fighting 3 for me fails in this area, with way below average sound effects and poor fight music. I actually consider throwing on a CD for this game.
Despite the character rosters in these games, the cool features, cool moves, and evolving fighting engine. The controls make this game very hard to want to play again, and the difficulty makes it worst. I can imagine someone new to this series completely hating it. Plus the fact that you begin the games at a disadvantage because you have to "earn" your power. Also, the fact there isn't a training mode only adds to the misery. Fortunately, SNK was kind enough to add a complete moves list in the instruction booklet. Personally, this series is something I don't play often. I only pull it out for visitors who are suffering from nostalgia. I only recommend this to very serious fighting game fans, who must play them all no matter what.
I'm adding this in for those who are being killed in the first two games only, because the third is easy once you get the combo system down. Art of Fighting: do not try to rely on your special moves, 7 out of 10, they're not going to work. Try to master the basic skills, and win on counter attacks. Button mashing and losing your temper will get you nowhere. The key is precise timing here.
Art of Fighting 2: Fight defensively, the CPU will make A LOT of mistakes, you must counter at each and every turn. For example, duck and regular uppercut ALL jumps, or back away and toss out a straight kick every time the CPU jumps. Watch carefully for character animations. If you leap into a battle, and go for all out attacks, you are dead. End of story. This isn't Street Fighter.
Try to keep your power bar full, and recharge mainly when the opponent is dizzy. The game also has a trick when getting your opponent dizzy. Try to throw the CPU at every single chance you get, because you will get them, and follow up with a special, but your timing has to be perfect. Land the move while the character is getting up. If the character does not cushion the throw, by bracing themselves on impact. The super move will always land causing an instant dizzy.
The character will be in a deep daze, then follow up with another throw while the character is dizzy, then hit with another special, and repeat until they're beaten. It's very possible that the CPU will never cushion the throw, but if it happens, continue with the counter attacks. However, under no circumstance do you use a move that lifts the opponent in the air while they're dazed, or for the dizzy, it doesn't work and you will not get the re-dizzy or any dizzy at all. For example, do not use Ryo and Robert's hundred punch and kick moves or Yuri's slap. Try to use a fireball, or some type of rushing attack. And last but not least, there's no shame in winning by allowing the time to expire. Good luck!
Pros: -Innovation -3 games
Cons: -Very bad controls -Difficulty
What did you think of this review?
Fun to Read
About the reviewer
Serious gamer and hardcore comic reader.
Currently in my Nintendo Wii U:
Currently … more
Consider the Source
Use Trust Points to see how much you can rely on this review.
Art of Fighting (龍虎の拳, Ryuuko no Ken,? lit. "Fist of Dragon and Tiger") is a trilogy of competitive fighting game titles that were released for the Neo Geo platform in the early 1990s. It was the second fighting game franchise created by SNK, following the Fatal Fury series and is set in the same fictional universe. The original Art of Fighting was released in 1992, followed by two sequels: Art of Fighting 2 (龍虎の拳2, Ryūko no Ken 2?) in 1994 and Art of Fighting 3: The Path of the Warrior (ART OF FIGHTING 龍虎の拳 外伝, Art of Fighting: Ryūko no Ken Gaiden?) in 1996. It was the first fighting game by SNK to feature the character designs of former illustrator Shinkiro, who would go on to do the character designs for the later Fatal Fury and The King of Fighters games.