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SNK's Art of Fighting on Neo Geo

The Art of Fighting

…or The Art of ‘Art of Fighting’

There are so many places I could start when writing about SNK’s Art of Fighting, I feel giddy just thinking about it. What could I add that hasn’t already been written about exhaustively by more authoritative sources?

Fortunately, this continuation of my Neo Geo series has a focus on the art and hype of games, and Art of Fighting knew how to handle itself in both regards!

Lightning

Before we get to the art, let’s look at the hype. This game, according to blurb at the time, surpassed all predecessors. No one knew of the awesome experience ahead of them! Art of Fighting would usher in a new wave of fighting games, with full-screen action and zoom-in sequences for close action and wide-screen effects during its all-out battles.

Playing Art of Fighting would let you see 8 Dealers of Destruction fight The Greatest Match Ever!

The Greatest Match Ever

For me, the best part of Art of Fighting is the character design. Take a look around the internet and few people will agree with me on this, but I’m not talking about the in-game characters. No, I’m looking at the art released at the time of the games’ release which varies a lot!

The image at the head of this post is from an advert released by SNK to boast about their No. 1 status in the arcades. But who are these fighters? Few seem to bare resemblance to the characters in the story poster above?

The two lead characters, Ryo (the invincible dragon) and Robert (the raging tiger) don’t suffer too badly. Except for the mullet… Ryo would probably prefer we didn’t notice that!

8 characters

The guy with the blue face and long nose is a bit of a mystery? He’s in the picture at the start of this article but he’s nowhere to be seen in most of the other artwork. Unless you’re looking at the box art (below) which definitely has someone with a long nose. Turns out this is Mr. Karate, the final boss! When you reach him, I recommend hitting him in his face!

Art of Fighting Box

Learn more about the Art of Fighting

I began this post by stating that others on the web have already covered this great game. If you like what you see here and would like to learn more, I recommend starting with the following:

The Arcade Flyer Archive – a truly fantastic resource for anyone interested in the history of games. You’ll find things like the image below!

Art of Fighting Guide

SNK Wiki – everything you could ever hope to learn about the Art of Fighting series can be found here.

Hardcore Gaming 101 – one of the best retro gaming sites on the internet, and a wealth of information about the Art of Fighting series.

If you’d like to play Art of Fighting, you have a lot of options. The original Neo Geo versions are my favoured choice, but you can find an Anthology release on the Playstation 2 and a Virtual Console release on the Nintendo Wii, both are arcade perfect.

You’ll also find less faithful ports on the 16-bit consoles of the day including the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis.

This post continues my series:
An irreverent and artistic A-Z of Neo Geo Gaming.

Pool Sharks

Retroist Scoreboard: Pool Sharks and B-movie monsters!

Hello, soundtrack enthusiasts. I’ve been toiling away on a special feature that I’ll be rolling out in small chunks in future editions of this column, only to discover that it wouldn’t be needed this week by a long shot. Why? Because there is a heap of new music to talk about this week. Ears open!

Intrada has released an unexpected gem, the complete remastered Kenyon Hopkins score from 1961’s The Hustler, which starred Paul Newman and George C. Scott. An unlikely collision of mid-20th-century jazz and orchestral drama, The Hustler was released on LP at the time of the movie’s release, and while this CD duplicates the original LP track order, it also adds enough material from the restored original session recordings to double the album’s length.
Pool Sharks

Intrada promises this title will be around “while quantities and interest remain”…which is a gentle way of saying it’ll be around until the typical specialty soundtrack print run of 3,000 copies sells out. (Why 3,000? It’s a number that the American Federation of Musicians, a union representing Hollywood session players, arrived at in negotiations with the Film Score Monthly label in the 1990s, and has since become the industry standard for the soundtrack specialty labels.)

From Kritzerland Records this week comes a very limited edition – only 1,000 copies worldwide – release of the score from 1957’s Monster from Green Hell, composed by B-movie maestro extraordinaire Albert “big blasts o’ brass” Glasser (Last Of The Wild Horses, Invasion U.S.A., The Cisco Kid, The Beginning Of The End, The Amazing Colossal Man, War Of The Colossal Beast…well, basically every third movie that ever showed up on Mystery Science Theater 3000, okay?). Kritzerland brought the score up to modern digital specs from Glasser’s original session tapes, and they’re taking orders now with the CD due to ship by the end of March, if not sooner.

Varese Sarabande has dropped three very limited editions – each limited to 1,000 copies – all from current and upcoming films. The standout in this batch would seem to be Before I Wake, with a score from the Newton Brothers and Danny Elfman; also released are Laurent Eyquem‘s USS Indianapolis: Men Of Courage and the soundtrack from Bitter Harvest, scored by Benjamin Wallfisch. None of these titles are, strictly speaking, “retro”, but with the low production numbers, like it or not, they’re tomorrow’s rarities. (Welcome to the soundtrack collector’s eternal game of Russian roulette: there’s no guarantee that all 1,000 copies will disappear either, though if even one of these titles sold out, I’d put my money on the one with Danny Elfman’s name on the cover.)

Going out of print at the end of this month at Intrada is Observations, a CD featuring an original composition by Arthur B. Rubenstein (Blue Thunder, WarGames), composed for a 2009 Griffith Park Observatory presentation. Rubenstein also conducts a selection of other astronomically-themed classical pieces from that show, but the highlight is “Observations”, presented both in instrumental form and, as it was heard by the planetarium audience, with narration by the late, great Leonard Nimoy. Perhaps not necessarily a film soundtrack, but somewhere at the intersection of Nimoy and Rubenstein (whose WarGames score is an all-time favorite of this writer) is one good reason, if not two of them, to pick this up before it goes out of print.

Now, that feature that somehow managed not to start this week? Here’s a little taster: a little green friend of mine once urged me to pass on what I have learned. So, beginning with March’s Retroist Scoreboard columns, I’ll start including, piece by piece, a glossary of terms that any budding soundtrack collector will need if they’re planning on staying aboard for this hobby. They’ll be terms that I’ll probably use quite a bit going forward, so there’s a good reason for such a glossary to exist, and I’ve put quite a bit of work into it. Stick around, you might learn a thing or two.

But that starts in March. Next week, we’re going to talk about why my inner Trekkie is awash in music he never thought he’d get his hands on. Beam back here this time next week.

When he’s not keeping score at the Retroist, Earl Green is the founder, head writer and podcaster-in-chief at the LogBook.com, a site devoted in roughly equal parts to classic sci-fi, classic video games, classic soundtracks, and space history. You can catch him lining up carefully curated excerpts from TV, movie and game scores most months on the Log Book’s soundtrack mixtape podcast, In The Grand Theme Of Things.

1996 Computers

Which of the 1996 Computers would you buy?

This ad was from Best Buy that features 1996 computers, was posted online a few months ago. It really brought back a lot of memories. In 1996, I was lucky enough to have a 486 computer, but all of my serious computer friends had been talking about Pentiums since 1993. As you can see, three years later, and the Pentium was still the hot chip in all 1996 Computers. This ad would have been something I would stare at while eating my breakfast cereal. This was fantasy material for me, since most of these machines with their nearly $2000 plus price tag were well out of my reach.

When computers were advertised, they would put a price that would not include the monitor. Yet, they would display the monitor with some small text tell you it was not included. This drove me nuts. This ad’s prices include the whole caboodle. Accept the Mac of course, you can see the disclaimer in the very tiny fine print.

So lets take a look at these machines.

You have the 133MHz HP Pentium is a mere $1899.


For $100 more you could pick up a Packard-Bell with a 133MHz HP Pentium.


If you had all the money in the world, you could really splurge and get yourself a Mac. It will cost you nearly $3000 with the monitor included, but that is the price you pay to own Apple products. Some things have not changed much.


It (Allegedly) Stinks!: Exploring the Underappreciated Charm of “The Critic”

*Watching the “Readability monitor* (Sigh) Such a critic.

Not The Simpsons

Anyway, now that you know how I feel about that Readability monitor…

If you watched enough primetime cartoons in the 1990s (other than The Simpsons, of course), “it stinks!” may sound familiar to you. And many believe it to be a direct spinoff of The Simpsons (and they’re so wrong!).

This show it comes from, you ask?

The Critic!

Before There Was Family Guy

In the 1990s, one primetime cartoon was king, and that was The Simpsons. There was nothing quite like it at the time, and it ruffled quite a few feathers. Bart Simpson was every parents’ worst nightmare, and the example that moms used when they said “this is not how you will behave!” Because my mom allowed my brother and I to watch the show, I never understood why so many other kids could not, and why parents were in such a tizz over The Simpsons. And that show was supposed to be family-friendly – I can’t imagine what the people who got their panties in a bunch over The Simpsons felt when they saw Family Guy a few years later.

If you guessed they got their panties in a bunch AGAIN, you’re right. Pat yourself on the back, you’re so smart!

Picture it, a Brief Time in 1994 (and 1995)…

Between that time, in 1994, Al Jean and Mike Reiss, who were previously showrunners on The Simpsons, decided the time was right for another primetime sitcom, but not of the family variety. The premise, you ask? The life of a New York film critic named Jay Sherman. That’s it. He’s a film critic, he’s balding, fat, has a child, is divorced, and has a Siskel and Ebert type show (called with all originalness, Coming Attractions) where he watched trailers for upcoming films. The movies he reviews are spirited parodies of actual films that you’ll immediately figure out if you’re familiar with movies of the time.

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwiryercg53SAhUJQiYKHYL_DoQQjB0IBg&url=http%3A%2F%2Fthecritic.wikia.com%2Fwiki%2FComing_Attractions&bvm=bv.147448319,d.amc&psig=AFQjCNEqc-Ck9gcv4BGSDSuac4pQRP1bOA&ust=1487623536718562

And they were hilarious! Who didn’t want to see Arnold Schwarzenegger as a Rabbi Cop, Clint Eastwood make another Dirty Harry movie, a Raptor smoke a pipe, or Dennis the Menace shoot up Mr. Wilson?

A Critic(al) Response

In theory, The Critic seemed like a great concept. It was funny, witty, and was floated as a “love letter to New York.” Plus, Jon Lovitz had name recognition and seemed like the perfect person to have his own series. So this should have been a hit, right?

Nope.

Like the tagline Jay Sherman used to describe the movies he was forced to watch and review, people were not fans. The Critic started off on ABC in January 1994, but moved to Fox in its second season. Despite improving ratings, the show was cancelled after two seasons, and twenty-three episodes. For several years in the mid-late ’90s through its Fox airing and later Comedy Central reruns, this was regular viewing for my brother and myself.

Since I had no idea (at least, initially) that this show began life on ABC, I assumed it was premiering on Fox because of the crossover episode of The Simpsons, when Jay hosts a film festival in Springfield. Oh, and he badmouths MacGyver. I’ve never forgotten that. :-D

Original Run

The show originally premiered on ABC in their Wednesday night lineup beginning on January 26, 1994, but was cancelled after 13 episodes.

Uploaded by VHSgoodiesWA…and proof that this show aired on ABC.

The show promptly moved to Fox for the 1994-1995 season (airing all those original episodes during the summer explains why I thought it only aired on Fox). It followed The Simpsons on Sunday nights (a respectable timeslot), but was cancelled after the second season. A move to UPN never happened, and with no network to pick it up for a third season, The Critic was officially done.

Old Soul Approved

Admittedly, I’ve always been an old soul. Don’t get me wrong – I was your typical kid when it came to toys and cartoons, but I loved primetime sitcoms growing up. As far back as I can remember, I watched many of the “important” ones that ’80s babies grew up on, and even at a younger age, I liked the humor. As an adult, I have not spotted one sitcom I liked as a kid and cringed over it. Ok, except for Small Wonder. I now see why my mom was so weirded out by that show.

Where The Simpsons was low-brow and played to the “everyone can relate” stance, The Critic took a satirical approach to humor, parodying movies by combining different movies, lightening up some, darkening others, and parodying high-profile stars of the time. The movie parodies were brilliant – the “clips” were movies any smartass would love to see. And then there was the Orson Welles parodies – Maurice LaMarche is brilliant. Just sayin’.

Uploaded by seinfan9

The feeling of audience commonality to The Simpsons was parodied in one episode. Jay Sherman was often depicted as elitist and smart, but it was his over-the-top dramatics that made him funny and endearing to this “old soul.” I always liked the humor of the show, even at 11-12 years old. The movie parodies were the highlight for me.

I sorta knew who Jon Lovitz was at the time (thanks to A League of Their Own). His is a voice you can’t forget, and his haminess works perfectly for Jay.

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjNobH_gp3SAhVGRyYKHWlqBvUQjB0IBg&url=http%3A%2F%2Fvillains.wikia.com%2Fwiki%2FDuke_Phillips&psig=AFQjCNHrWIYFLd55U3_v78q0QVPqCH0u7Q&ust=1487623348012497

“All hail Duke, Duke is life!”

The only other character I laughed at as hard as I did at Jay was his boss, Duke Phillips, and while I knew who Charles Napier was (but not until much later), I didn’t think that was his real voice! Duke’s characterization was that of Ted Turner – a media conglomerate owner who rules with an iron fist.

And What About Those Movie Parodies?

Yeah, what about them?

Uploaded by Random Comment

There are many more amazing parodies, and this merely scratches the surface. There’s this…

Uploaded by KnightedFrog

This…

Uploaded by Kanaru2

And this!

Uploaded by YoKozo

These, and the many other parodies of the movies…not bogus!

Availability

The show aired in reruns on Comedy Central (where I watched it after Fox cancelled it), has been in syndication during the last decade, and made the trek to TV-on-DVD in one set with all 23 episodes, including the ten-episode Flash Animation webseries (2000-2001). The set is available on Amazon for a respectable price of $14.99. And yes, I own that DVD set.

And In Closing…

The Critic was one of those gems that lacked the proper respect in its time, but still holds up well despite its age. It had a great sense of humor that paved the way for the humor of Family Guy, and all of the shows that would follow in that vein. Ahead of its time? Maybe. Classic? Definitely!

How could anything with that distinction stink?

It is impossible!

1960s Board Games - Hats Off

1960s Board Games you have never of

You think you know your board game history? Well here are a pair of 1960s Board Games that I think will be “new” to many of you.

1960s Board Games rock paper scissors

Rock, Paper, Scissors Board Game

We have all played rock, paper, scissors at times. But did you know this grade school game was turned into a board game? I didn’t until I found this 1967 board game by Ideal. It consists of game pieces with 3 levers, marked with a picture of a rock, scissors and paper. Instead of making the symbols with your fingers you simply tap the lever that represents your choice. Rock beats scissors, scissors beats paper and paper beats rock. For each win you draw a game tile and try to fill in your game card. First one with a full game card wins. So is it any more fun than just playing the game with your hands? Not really and that’s probably why I had never saw this game before.

1960s Board Games hats off

Hats Off Board Game

The next board game is also from 1967 and made by Kohner Brothers. It is the Hats Off game. A game of skill which is actually really fun to play. Each player tries to flip their little cone-shaped hats into the scoring board in their color section. 5 points for each score and a bonus of 5 points if you stack two or more hats in your color section. The flipper part is spring-loaded and features Slide-O-Matic scoring! First one to 75 points wins. I am going to have to take this game to Arkadia Retrocade and challenge Vic Sage to a game!

Watch Hats Off in action