Parent Talk: The Art of Fighting is rated T for teen by the ESRB for violence. Given the game was released back in 1992, the violence is cartoony.
Plays Like: Any 2D fighter.
Review Basis: Played through the story mode on the PS3, and tried some online multiplayer.
Details: PS3 version is $8.99 and PSP version is $6.99.
What’s This About: The Art of Fighting is about…the art of fighting? Ok, not really. It’s actually about Ryo Sakazaki and Robert Garcia searching for Ryo’s sister, Yuri. Yuri’s been kidnapped by the evil Mr. Big. That might sound simple and a little ridiculous, but what makes it stand out are the great characters and unique special moves. While not as good as Fatal Fury it would go on to spawn two sequels and eventually become completely absorbed into the King of Fighters universe.
What It’s Remembered For:
- Ridged combat, unless you know what you’re doing. This was one game where experts were awesome, and newbies sucked hard. It always felt much more tactical than the other SNK fighters.
- Spirit gauge. This was actually really innovative for 1992. The higher your spirit gauge the more special moves you can pull off. Want to drain an opponent’s spirit gauge, simply taunt them. Let’s just say that made for some interesting matches.
- Another key feature introduced with The Art of Fighting was the ability to level your fighter up…sort of. After each bonus round players could strengthen their character by learning new moves associated with the spirit gauge. It was a mind-blowing addition back then.
- A connected universe. What really made The Art of Fighting special was that it was connected to SNK’s other big game from the previous year, Fatal Fury: The King of Fighters. In fact it was actually a prequel to that series, as players found out with The Art of Fighting 2, which featured a young Geese, the main baddy from Fatal Fury. It was awesome, until the series ended and a separate continuity was set up so that characters from The Art of Fighting could fight alongside the characters from Fatal Fury in the King of Fighters series.
- Two selectable characters for the story mode and eight for the versus mode. The roster wasn’t large, but what little characters were available were all unique and special in their own way.
- One of the worst translations ever. It’s so bad, it’s funny. There are countless examples, but perhaps the best is seeing grammatical errors such as when an opponent loses a match and screams “Rat’s”… what belongs to the rats? Did I miss something?
- Great presentation values. It may not look it, but this was quite the looker back in 1992.
Anything Else We Need To Know?
(Note that all Neo Geo Station games feature online play, PSP versions, region-selecting options for blood and added bounciness, visual smoothers, save states, bug editors, and command lists.)
- Like all the first wave of Neo Geo Station releases, the online play isn’t as good as later releases.
Bottom Line: Who Should Download This?
The Art of Fighting is a hard title to recommend for anyone but the utmost die-hard SNK fans. The reason is simple, the combat is extremely dated and the fighters are far too ridged. If you want a better example of what this series has to offer, you’re going to have to wait until The Art of Fighting 3 hits the Neo Geo Station. In the meantime I’d strongly recommend you pick up something else like The King of Fighters ’96 or even Capcom vs. SNK for the Dreamcast. Heck, there are tons of games available for the Neo Geo Station that are worth your time and money. Just look through all my reviews and see which one tickles your fancy.