Film Review: Fatal Fury 2: The New Battle (1993)

Release Date: July 31st, 1993 (Japan)
Directed by: Kazuhiro Furuhashi
Based on: Fatal Fury: King of Fighters by SNK
Music by: Toshihiko Sahashi

Nihon Ad Systems (NAS), 75 Minutes

Review:

While the first movie didn’t age too well, I still wanted to watch the second one, as it bridges the gap between the first and third movies and because I remember the third one being exceptionally good for the time.

These films are based off of the fighting game series of the same name, a series that would eventually evolve into the popular King of Fighters franchise.

I would say that this chapter is a step up from the first one, as it is longer, has more story and also has more fighting and introduces fans to other beloved characters that didn’t fit in the first chapter.

The plot mostly follows the plot of the second game and introduces the villain Wolfgang Krauser, who appears to be a bigger badass than Geese Howard of the original game and film. It also brings in the matador villain Laurence Blood, as every big baddie needs a top henchman. Blood is to Krauser what Billy Kane was to Geese.

I think that the animation here is pretty consistent with the first film but it may be a hair bit better. Where I did notice improvement was in the action, especially the fighting scenes.

Fatal Fury 2: The New Battle expands the story quite a bit and it helps to set the stage for the followup: Fatal Fury: The Motion Picture, which was the finale and the only one that saw theatrical release.

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: the two other Fatal Fury movies.

Video Game Review: Ninja Gaiden III: The Ancient Ship of Doom (NES)

The things I complained about with the first two Ninja Gaiden games seem to be less of an issue with this one. The main thing being the difficulty of the game and how you are constantly overwhelmed by enemies and find yourself extremely frustrated.

The other main issue I had with the other games was the mechanics. They are greatly improved here. You can climb up walls and actually jump forward over edges now, which allows you to work your way through the levels much better and with less complications.

Also, the bosses in this seem easier and there is more of a variance in their style. You can figure out and employ good strategies for most, as opposed to simply hacking and slashing and hoping you can dodge enough enemy attacks just to outlast the baddie.

Where the game lacks though, is in the story. This has the weakest plot of the three games and it feels out of place, as a follow up to the first two games. This is much more sci-fi based than fantasy. It has alien technology, super soldiers and dimension jumping. While those aren’t bad things, they just felt out of place with what was already established and the tone of the stories that came before.

The plot is still okay enough to make me care but it didn’t motivate me to push through like it did in the other games. Still, I played through and beat this but that was mainly due to it being less of a clusterfuck and more fun, overall.

I only wish they had fine tuned the gameplay earlier than this and employed it in the previous games, which would have made them much better experiences.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: all the other Ninja Gaiden games for the NES.

Video Game Review: Wrath of the Black Manta (NES)

I remember renting Wrath of the Black Manta for the weekend when I was in sixth grade. It was a new game, starring a ninja and it just had a cool f’n title!

However, what I got was mostly a pile of mediocre ninjitspoo.

It’s not a bad game but it’s not a good game. It’s frustrating in spots, as it’s not clear as to what your supposed to do sometimes but even when I played this as a kid, I got to the final level. I’m pretty sure I didn’t beat it though.

The graphics in this are just pretty mundane. And honestly, the gameplay is boring. This feels like a halfassed ripoff of the Nintendo port of Shinobi but with less style.

Most of the levels aren’t very straightforward and while it may at first seem like interesting level design, it’s mostly nonsensical. That’d be okay, I guess, if there were things worth exploring but there aren’t.

The mechanics are wonky, as well. It’s not clear how to do any of the magic shit or what the point of most of the spells are. It’s a trial and error thing but I still didn’t mess around with most of them.

This is an okay time waster but there are much better games to play before even firing this one up.

I’d say it’s less infuriating than the first two Ninja Gaiden games but those were at least carried by cool stories. The story here is generic and uninspiring. It certainly doesn’t make you want to beat the game for a resolution to the plot.

Rating: 5/10
Pairs well with: other ninja games for the original Nintendo.

Video Game Review: Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos (NES)

Like its predecessor, this was a game that was frustrating as hell but sort of made up for that with superb cut scenes and a terrific story that you wanted to see come to its conclusion.

The story is the real motivator in these games, as you have to progress in order to watch it all play out. Plus, we didn’t have YouTube back in 1990, so we couldn’t just throw our controllers through a window and just watch the ending online.

This does improve on a few things though.

For one, the graphics are better than the first game. While the sprites of the characters are basically the same, the levels just look nicer, have better colors and seem more varied in style.

Also, the physics have been tweaked to improve the gameplay. You can climb up and down regular walls, which is a big plus.

However, this game hinders these improvements by making the frustrating enemies even more frustrating. Because of that, despite countless hours of trying, I never beat this game back in the day.

I did beat it on this playthrough but it required game genie codes and the save state option on an emulator. But even then, this was still just a lot of frustration.

In the end, this is an improvement over the first game but it’s just as maddening, if not more so.

Rating: 6.25/10
Pairs well with: all the other Ninja Gaiden games for the NES.

Video Game Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (NES)

Between this and the Ninja Gaiden games, I’ve been revisiting some of the most frustrating things from my childhood.

However, I did finally beat this game after playing it on an emulator and using an actual walkthrough because those last few levels are f’n mazes, man! Mazes that will drive you bonkers, as there doesn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason to their design.

As hard as this game is, I was shocked to discover that the final boss, Shredder, was actually the easiest boss of the game. It was like someone said, “Hey you need to go through this six level obstacle course of mortal danger to kill the enemy!” and then when you get to the end, there’s just a snail you need to step on.

Anyway, the underwater level is still one of the most assholishly designed levels in video game history. While frustrated beyond absolute belief, I did beat it on the first try. I remember spending hours on it as a kid and questioning why I was even still playing the game but I hated the level so much I couldn’t let it have the last laugh.

If you have played this game, I’m sure you are already aware of how much of a pain in the dick this is.

But that being said, it’s not impossible. You can master this thing but I guess it comes down to whether or not you want to put that much time into it and whether or not it’s even worth it.

In the end, I don’t hate this game like I used to. However, it still doesn’t hold a candle to the awesome side scrolling beat’em up Turtles games that came after this first official attempt at a TMNT game.

Rating: 5.5/10
Pairs well with: the other Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles NES games but this is the worst of the lot.

Video Game Review: Ninja Gaiden (NES)

I loved Ninja Gaiden back in the ’80s.

But playing it again now, the first time in quite some time, I realized that my love of the game is more about the story and the incredible cut scenes that were, at the time, better than just about anything presented in the 8-bit NES format.

I love the world, the mythos and was so captivated by it that I used to draw my own Ninja Gaiden comics. But this was also during the ’80s when cultural ninja mania was at an all-time high, especially in the minds of elementary school aged boys.

The gameplay itself is pretty shitty. And I remembered how frustrating this game was. When I was a kid, I dealt with it and pushed through because the story was just so badass. As an adult, I had to push through because I wanted to properly review it and because I had the benefit of playing it on an emulator with save states and with a few game genie codes activated.

But man, even for cheaters like myself, this is still a hell of a bitch to get through. The game physics are terrible, if I’m being honest. Some of these physics would be tweaked and improved upon in the sequel but you get so overwhelmed by monsters that you often times get knocked out of the air, mid-jump, or knocked off of pillars and platforms.

Also, none of the boss battles are very fun. They’re mostly frustrating, don’t require much strategy other than not getting hit and they aren’t something you even look forward to, which is a failure in game design and player engagement.

These games were made to be damn near impossible to beat. While I did beat this one without cheating, as a kid, it probably would’ve made me start drinking if my mum actually kept real booze in the house.

But complaints and frustration aside, the story and cut scenes are still fucking cool, even in 2019.

Rating: 5.75/10
Pairs well with: all the other Ninja Gaiden games for the NES.

Film Review: Fatal Fury: Legend of the Hungry Wolf (1992)

Release Date: December 23rd, 1992 (Japan)
Directed by: Hiroshi Fukutomi
Based on: Fatal Fury: King of Fighters by SNK
Music by: Toshihiko Sahashi, Toshio Masuda

Fuji Television Network, Nihon Ad Systems (NAS), Star Child Recording, 46 Minutes

Review:

There were Street Fighter kids, there were Mortal Kombat kids and then their were Fatal Fury kids.

I was a Fatal Fury kid and actually loved all the fighting games put out by SNK on the Neo Geo. And that’s not to say that I also didn’t play the shit out of the other two games but the style of those SNK fighters lured me in.

So when Fatal Fury animes started coming out, I bought them all and watched them almost weekly. I just dug the hell out of these films.

This one, the first of three, is the shortest and probably the worst but it’s still worth a watch for fans of the franchise that would evolve into the uber popular King of Fighters game series.

The story isn’t super exciting and it’s standard fighting game story fare. A bad guy, in this case Geese Howard, killed the two protagonists’ father. The two brothers decide to get revenge when they’re adults ten years later. They meet a Muay Thai ally and all three go to war with the scumbags ruling the city. They also kick ass in a big fighting tournament and draw the attention of the big bad guy.

The main issue I have with this film is that it’s too short. The story could have been better and richer but this just cuts to the chase, sets everything up quickly and then lets the characters duke it out.

If you aren’t familiar with these games, then this probably isn’t something you’ll give a shit about. If you are an old school Fatal Fury fan, this is worth checking out if only to build up towards the third film, which was pretty fantastic from my memory.

Rating: 6/10
Pairs well with: the two Fatal Fury movies that follow.