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.

Original Atari Combat Two Oil Painting

Who wouldn’t want this Original Atari Combat Two Oil Painting?

Browsing online this morning I came across this stunning auction on eBay for an original Atari Combat Two Oil Painting by commercial freelance illustrator Michel Allaire. I had followed some of Allaire’s other auctions lately, this Star Wars one is pretty great, and was slowly turning into a fan. But this 16.5 x 21 oil painting catapulted his work into my regular online watch list. While I might not be able to afford his worked, they are well into the 5 digit range. Just looking at them fires my imagination and inspires me.

This is what a good illustrator should do, and while it is easy for things like Star Wars, Atari could make it challenging. Their simple graphics needed to be represented as something more. An illustration of what you should see in your imagination. This is exactly what Allaire did for the unreleased Combat Two. A game that, as an original Combat fan, I would have loved. Sadly the game, never saw the light of day back in the 1980s (video game crash of 1983), although it would get all manners of releases in the new millennium.

So if you have some discretionary cash lying around and would like to own and original Atari Combat Two Oil Painting, or perhaps just gift it to me, check out the auction. It is filled with history on the piece and the artist and is still running for 19 more days.

It is on the pricey side at $42,000, but that is not bad when you consider this is a piece of history. Also, shipping is only $11.15, and that is very reasonable. You might want to make sure they add some insurance when they mail it.

Here are some close-ups of the painting. Admire the details


Andro Dunos CD

Fight the Space Battle of the Century in Andro Dunos

With multi-weapon shooting!

Andro Dunos, a horizontal shoot-em-up from developers Visco, is one of my favourite Neo Geo games. Most people don’t rate the game too highly but, as an arcade shooter, it ticks lots of boxes for me.

The ships (named Yellow Cherry and Red Fox) control really well; your weapons handle the action nicely; level design is clean and offers variety; the difficulty curve is just right.

Everything I love about shmups is in Andro Dunos. It even had nice artwork in its promo material!

Andro Dunos flyer

And yet, there is something missing.

Originality

I don’t think Andro Dunos does anything new or innovative. Weapon powerups are a mix of Gradius and R-Type. Level designs take liberties with classics like Salamander and Thunder Force. You’ll probably get a sense of deja vu throughout the 45 minutes it’ll take you to play through its 8 stages.

The only original thing from the game is the striking artwork at the head of this post, taken from the Neo Geo CD release. Makes a nice change from the generic ships-in-space images that are usually used. See above flyer for a prime example.

You can watch the game played through on the RetroGameWorld YouTube channel:

I’m not the only one who likes Andro Dunos. Whilst researching the game, I found that someone has created a tshirt design which you can buy over at Etsy.

Andro Dunos T-Shirt

The only way you can play Andro Dunos is on the Neo Geo – any flavour, just as long as it has an SNK badge.

This post continues a new series from me:
An irreverent and artistic A-Z of Neo Geo Gaming.

Alpha Mission 2

Suit Up, Hold Your Breath and Stand Ready for the Unbelievable Alpha Mission 2

Surely they meant Beta Mission?

One of the things that makes “retro gaming” so much fun for me is being able to use the internet to look back at how the game was perceived at the time. I enjoy playing the games, but looking back at old magazine reviews, seeing the hype and marvelling at the advertising; that’s what I really love about the hobby.

Except when you can’t do those things. Alpha Mission II, or Armored Scrum Object II: Last Guardian if you’re in Japan, is a brilliant shoot-em-up. It’s also a game that defies the logic that the internet is the source of all knowledge.

Alpha Mission 2 Box Art

You can find a few magazine scans, box art images and other material from its release in 1991. But, compared to other games produced for the MVS and Neo Geo platforms, Alpha Mission 2 is remarkable because of the lack of hype.

That’s surprising for a sequel, especially when they had such a good backstory…

The lunar nightmare of a bloody 200-year space war was thought to be over in the “original” ALPHA MISSION. But now with the advent of more technically sophisticated weapons, the evil “Fulvar” and his “Seven Star Alliance” have returned to destroy all planets that stand in their way of the ultimate target… Earth! Now in the year of 2525! Your mission as pilot of the new SYD-FX fighter is to use every weapon at your disposal to rid the galaxy once and for all of the evil that now dominates and threatens Earth. So suit up, hold your breath, and stand ready for unbelievable graphics and stereo sound that’ll suck you into the far reaches of deep, dark inner space. Be prepared… you may never come back!

And how cool does this bad guy look. He’s one of the smallest you’ll fight!

Alpha Mission 2 Baddie

Believe the non-existent hype, Alpha Mission 2 is awesome!

In Alpha Mission 2, you’ll find a smart, visually arresting, vertical shoot-em-up. It’s as tough as nails to stay alive, but you can keep feeding the game credits to see all seven levels. The bosses are magnificent and HUGE. Your ship is the perfect foil for them provided you learn how to use its power. You’ll also find a superb soundtrack beating away in the background.

I really can’t say enough to promote this game. If you still need convincing, this play-through is messy but lets you see everything.

If you don’t have access to the arcade or Neo Geo originals, you can also find the game on Sony’s Playstation Network, playable on PS3 and PSP.

This post continues a new series from me:
An irreverent and artistic A-Z of Neo Geo Gaming.

Pop Culture Postage - Clark Orr

Clark Orr’s “Pop Culture Postage” Is Incredible!

Clark Orr’s Pop Culture Postage is the most awesome thing you will see all day. At least most awesome retro-inspired pieces of art you will come across today. I realize that is a rather bold statement but I stick by what I’ve proclaimed! Fortunately for myself you can look on some of Orr’s Pop Culture Postage artwork below and judge for yourselves.

All images courtesy of Clark Orr and Gallery 1988.

As you can certainly see – all manner of pop culture properties have been selected by Clark Orr. Besides He-Man from the Masters of the Universe for example there is Skeletor as well.
Pop Culture Postage - Skeletor

Many movies have been included in the Pop Culture Postage collection. Ghostbusters, Back to the Future, and even Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Of course how when picking from pop culture legends could one overlook 1933’s King Kong?

With this in mind is it any wonder that Clark Orr chose to also showcase a Universal Monster? In this case it is for 1954’s classic The Creature from the Black Lagoon!

Equally important in the collection is none other than Count Chocula. Although I have to add that I am certainly disappointed that Boo Berry wasn’t included in the Pop Culture Postage. I will remind you I am rather biased on this subject however.

Clark pays tribute to history as well with his artwork entitled “Challenger”.

Pop Culture Postage is in fact part of Clark Orr’s show at the Gallery 1988 West in Los Angeles, California. A solo show which opened on February 3rd and will run until the 18th of this month. As well as this exciting news – his artwork is available for purchase at the Gallery 1988 website!

Hopefully you’ve stopped drooling over Clark Orr’s Pop Culture Postage now. Because thanks to Creative Mornings HQ you can totally watch him give a lecture on his art style!