Art of Fighting Anthology
Developer: SNK Playmore
Publisher: SNK
Release Date: Out Now
Players: 1-2
Words By:

Most of us gamers constantly look to the next big thing; graphical improvements are a major requirement, and many of us will now admit to being “graphics whores™” (and there is no better term for it), but bigger levels, more characters and gameplay innovations are also high on our wanted lists. Yet we still long for games that give us the satisfaction of that era’s best. These days anything from that wonderful early ‘90s 16-bit 2D era looks as ancient to me as to hurt my eyes, but can the gameplay stand up? What you get here is a virtually unbeatable collection of the Neo Geo’s best fighting games all on one disk – and before I float off on a wave of nostalgia I should probably say that I don’t think they were ever as good as the Streetfighter games in the first place…

SNK’s expensive Neo Geo system didn't do very well outside Japan, but one of its franchises that everyone seemed aware of was a trilogy called The Art of Fighting. What made Art of Fighting a bit different was that the power of the Neo Geo made it look almost 'arcade perfect', and although most of the fighting consists of dragon punches, fireballs and leg sweeps, there are also weapons that each character can wield. So there you are; Soul Edge (or Soul Calibur as it was known over here) wasn’t the first fighting game to use weapons.

Anthology includes what were actually three arcade games, later ported to the Neo Geo: The Art of Fighting, The Art of Fighting 2, and The Path of the Warrior: Art of Fighting 3. The newest one looks the best and probably plays the best; whereas the early games were just relatively poor Streetfighter wannabes, 3 seemed to have its own identity. You'll also open up the story of crooked cops and bloodthristy killers that sets the stage for the later "Fatal Fury" games.

The sensitivity of the controls seems to vary from game to game, but in general the games respond well (quick response is probably the ONE thing a 2D fighter demands above all else), and seem even better suited to PS2 pad than they did the huge original Neo Geo controllers. But as with the more illustrious Streetfighter series, certain characters and their special moves always have distinct edge during a fight. In particular Jin-Fuma's cartwheel attack gives you an instant advantage you’ve got to be an idiot to lose. Game imbalance gripes aside, the games look just about as good as they realistically could, control well and may well give you the retro-fighter fix that you’ve been yearning for. Whaddya mean, you haven’t?

Best Bits

- Retro Streetfighter-style combat with some added weapons!
- It’s cheap
Worst Bits

- 90s graphics and sound
- Some characters seem way better than others
- It’s really OLD, and looks it

by: Diddly

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