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.

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.

Aggressors of Dark Kombat

Give it all you got with the Aggressors of Dark Kombat!

If you’re a developer looking for a cool name for your latest one-on-one punch-up in the arcades, please stop reading now. Seriously, arcade and Neo Geo title Aggressors of Dark Kombat, should have stuck with its Japanese name of GanGan!

First, Kombat. With a K. Really?

Second, Aggressors? Really?! I would have gone with Warriors, or Fighters. or pretty much any other aggressive sounding word that isn’t actually aggressive.

Third, why is the aggressive combat ‘dark‘? I’ve played the game, watched countless videos, read as much as I can about the title, and I’m still clueless about the darkness!

Give it all you got - Aggressors of Dark Kombat

To understand this nonsensical name, let’s look at who developed this game, Alpha Denshi Corp. Or A.D.K. if you follow their own shorthand. So, they took their own company name as inspiration? This is from a developer that had previously created the “World Heroes” series. Sigh.

First time in the world! An astounding and realistic 3-D battle

Despite its uninspiring westernised name, Aggressors has plenty to enjoy. The ‘Kombat’ is solid, arcade-friendly button mashing with a few neat twists. Fights are only one round, but each combatant has a health bar that has several layers. Each player fills a ‘crazy’ meter as they fight, allowing the player to unleash a devastating finishing move which is a lot of fun to watch. You can also move outside of the usual 2D plane, though this particular innovation wasn’t the game-changer that it was hyped to be.

ADK characters

Characters in Aggressors of Dark Kombat are a mixed bunch. Of the eight fighters, only one is female, and you never see their names whilst playing! My favourite character is American Bobby “Brown Bullet” Nelson, a basketball player who fights to become famous. Obviously he does this by travelling the world, beating people up with his basketball.

Watch the ‘Bullet‘ battle though in this video:

As you’ll see and hear in the gameplay video, GanGan (as I prefer to think of it) has some really nice touches. The music is great, especially when the tempo rises during the final layer of a players health gauge. Backgrounds look great in most levels. The animation is limited, but I love the old lady walking her dog, ignoring the fight.

Weapons are a feature too, usually thrown in by the crowd, adding a touch of Final Fight to the occasion. Notice also the copious amounts of sweat falling from the fighers – not blood, but sweat!

Aggressors of Dark Kombat - Meet the Fighters

Finally, it is worth reading the ADK “Fighters Credo”:

1. Keep quiet and just fight!
2. Attack hand and gain power points! (whatever this means)
3. No rules, get them with weapons!
4. Throw ’em! Get ’em! Break their bones!

Yes, to put an end to the fight, anything goes to beat up your enemies!

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

Spanky / Whity the Dolphin

Meet Spanky, the fighter pilot dolphin from the Aero Fighters series

Imagine for a moment a world where fighter jets such as the Northrop YF-23 Gray Ghost could be piloted by a talking dolphin.

That world would be a cool place, right? If it sounds like somewhere you’d like to be, you should check out the Aero Fighter series of games. Starting with Aero Fighters 2 in the arcades, Spanky (or Whity as he is known in Japan) is a “genius dolphin” who joined the United Nations Peacekeeping Force and fights on the side of nature!

Aero Fighters

The Aero Fighters series, better known as Sonic Wings in the East, are vertical shooters, similar to Capcom’s 1942. The first game is mostly a serious shoot-em-up where “the world’s hope hinges on your combat skills and sheer determination as an Aero Fighter“.

I say mostly serious, but you do have the option of playing as Rabio and Lepus, the twin mechanical rabbits hailing from the world of Bunnyland.

Dolphin

The second game, Aero Fighters 2, changes the tone considerably. For a start you can play as Spanky the dolphin, or as Arthur Sid Pride, the baby pilot with a milk bottle! Later games also have much funnier character stories, especially when “Engrish” creeps into the narrative.

I never thought I’d be frying over a jungle!

Spanky is a pretty popular dolphin, he even gets his own fan-art, like this from Jacquelline M. Kimminau.

Jacquelline M. Kimminau - Spanky the Dolphin

The best thing about Spanky though is his positivity. What should a dolphin say when faced with mass destruction? The Capitol was destroyed, but hey, what can you do?. Exactly!

Spanky Go Home

If you want to see Spanky in action for yourself, I’d play through the two Neo Geo titles in the series – Aero Fighters 2 and 3. You can also read loads more about him on his own character page on the Sonic Wings Wikia.

Sonic Wings 2 and 3

You could also watch Spanky paired with the baby pilot in this Let’s Play video:

Baby Power! Dolphin Power!

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