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access_time December 28, 2020 at 6:00 AM in Reviews by David Poole

Review | Fatal Fury First Contact (Nintendo Switch)

Earlier this year, I reviewed SNK Gals’ Fighters, a Nintendo Switch port of a 2000 Neo Geo Pocket Color fighting game. I was somewhat impressed by the depth of the combat and the fluidity of movement that the retro portable system was capable of. With that in mind, I was curious to check out developer Yumekobo’s first fighting game, Fatal Fury First Contact. Releasing in 1999, this was title took heavy inspiration from the arcade classic Real Bout Fatal Fury 2: The Newcomers. Of course, releasing for a portable platform with only two buttons, it comes with quite a few limitations.

Fatal Fury First Contact is a pretty simple game when it comes down to it. You’ll start with 11 fighters with the ability to unlock a 12th fighter. Each character has a stage and you’ll fight eight to nine fighters to gain ultimate supremacy. There isn’t really a story (at least not one conveyed in the game itself), and there’s not much reward for completing the game. This is as basic of a fighter as they really come, and while it shouldn’t be expected to be anything amazing, it’s somewhat disappointing after previously playing SNK Gals’ Fighters.

Many of your classic favorite fighters are here, including Terry and Andy Bogard, Mai Shiranui, Geese Howard, and more. You’ll even have the new fighters (at the time) Li Xiangfei and Rick Strowd. While their personality manages to shine through in the simple sprites, it doesn’t get much more charming than that. It’s unfortunate given that the character art is so fun and energetic. There’s some basic ending images you’ll see as you reach the credits, but other than that, the fights are the main attraction here.

Fights will usually consist of up to three rounds, each combatant having two health bars going from yellow to red. Attacks will consists of punches, kicks, and special attacks depending on the character. Holding down the buttons will result in a strong variant of the attack. You’ll also have a power gauge that charges from your own attacks on the opponent, mainly combos and specials. Once that gauge fills up, you’ll have access to different power attacks depending on your power gauge mark. This will change depending on how full the gauge is as well as depending on how much health you have left. It’s an interesting system, though it’s also a bit confusing without reading the manual.

You’ll be able to perform special and power attacks with various input commands, getting a decent amount of moves from each character. Despite this, the combat is still simpler than SNK Gals’ Fighters. It’s also not quite as polished either, as there are collision detection problems, as well as frame rate drops. Considering how smooth the other game was, this was probably the biggest disappointment for me. It’s still more than playable, but it’s not a fighting game many will play by choice. One more issue I have is that there is a 13th character, Lao, who you can only play as in the 2 player mode. This is only after unlocking the 12th character, Alfred from Real Bout Garou Densetsu Special: Dominated Mind.

Like SNK Gals’ Fighters, the game has similar UI features from the port team, Code Mystics. This includes options to change the frame, filter options, and even the ability to remap controls. Still no online function, but local play is still fully available with various screen options. This is likely the best way to play the game simply due to all these various options. Even so, it would’ve been nice to see just a bit more done with the title.

Overall, Fatal Fury First Contact is a good first attempt at a Neo Geo Pocket Color fighting game. It may be simple, but it really just makes me appreciate the effort in SNK Gals’ Fighters even more. This one is severely lacking in the presentation department, making it purely a fighter for fans that want to play it. If you didn’t get the chance to play the game when it was first available, this is definitely a great way to experience it. Of course, that doesn’t mean it would be a great experience for anyone but the diehard fans.

Final Score: 6.5 out of 10

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