Title: Garou: Mark of the Wolves
Date Published: 1998
Platforms: Neo-Geo MVS/AES, Dreamcast (as "Fatal Fury: Mark of the Wolves" for US Dreamcast release)
Considered by many to be the greatest of SNK's one-on-one fighting games, this is (currently) the final installment of the legendary Fatal Fury series and certainly a fitting end. Set 10 years after the end of the Real Bout mini-series, it carries only one of the characters from previous installments, Terry Bogard. The rest of the roster is made up partially of new characters, and partially from characters related to those from previous games.
(based on Neo-Geo button layout:)
Button A: Weak Punch
Button B: Weak Kick
Button C: Strong Punch
Button D: Strong Kick
Upon selecting a character, the player will be asked to select a third of their life bar to be used as the "T.O.P." (Tactical Offensive Position). When their health enters this area, a number of bonuses will become active, lasting until it leaves this area. This means you could start a round with a strength advantage, or wait until your life drops to make a stunning comeback.
Character line-upTerry Bogard: The "Lonely Wolf" returns, minus his trademark Fatal Fury cap but still sporting his same-old moveset. Powerful in new and old hands, this SNK stalwart has an excellent offensive and defensive balance.
Kim Dong Hwan: One of old favourite Kim Kaphwan's two sons, and the more arrogant of the two. Using lightning-based attacks, he can still be a tough opponent, and if you want to win with a smug smile on your face, Dong Hwan's your man.
Hotaru Futaba: She may look as if she'll pose no challenge, but she has a number of fast and powerful moves up her sleeves. She can also reverse a projectile attack with her useful 'reflector' move.
Khushnood Butt: A student of the Kyokugenryu school of Karate, and an extraordinarily jammy character to have to face. A pain to face when playing against the CPU; a whole new level of defeat against a skilled human player.
Hokutomaru: Rumoured to be Andy Bogard's student, this Shiranui ninja uses a number of quick, if annoying, moves that are plain nasty at times. His style is barely recognisable to that of his master, however.
Kevin Rian: The military man, although there are no "Sonic Booms" here. He specialises in firey, over-powerful moves, although a faster character can get the better of him. One for more experience players.
Freeman: A psychopathic killer with more than a few similarities to one Iori Yagami, of KoF fame. Very fast, with a number of predefined combos, and some very cool special moves.
Tizoc: A wrestler in a bird mask, this grappler is slightly faster than one would expect, but certainly devestating with his command throws.
B. Jenet: An interesting mix of fast standard moves and slower specials, she'll take time to master but can be difficult to beat in the hands of an expert.
Gato: Hotaru on steroids. Much more powerful than his female counterpart, but slower to make up for it, he can be lethal when you get used to him.
Kim Jae Hoon: The more cautious of Kim's sons, using fire instead of lightning. Much more like his father's style of Tae Kwon Do, he will be easy to pick up for veteran players, while still a good choice for a newcomer.
Rock Howard: The son of the infamous Geese Howard, mixing some of his powerful moves with those of Terry. Just wait until you see his version of the Rising Storm...
There are two other secret characters; to list them here would spoil the surprise...
Utterly superb for the Neo-Geo. Each character has an amazing amount of animation, ranging from opening taunts for each bout to little incidental details such as Terry tightening his gloves after delivering his trademark Power Geyser. None of the characters has been under-developed, either - all are equally as wonderfully drawn and animated. The special effects the game uses - for example, projectile attacks - also stand out, making the player wonder just whether the game they're playing really is on a system released in 1990. The result of all this? Pure eye candy.
The backgrounds are suitably fitting, each filled with SNK's usual little details. All are linked in some way to the character they represent: Terry, for example, fights on board a moving train, just as in Fatal Fury 2. Each stage features a character-specific introduction, followed by a special animation performed by that character (assuming they are fighting at their location). For example, Hotaru's coat will be pulled off by a flock of birds when entering her stage.
A brand new, mint-condition home cart version of the game will cost the consumer an average $200, having come down in price recently from abour $500. There is no large difference between the cost of the US and Japanese versions. This is a game that most collectors and gamers would like to own, with it's excellent yellow insert and equally good gameplay. One for the special shelf.
All information taken from personal playing experience with the game, and official information published by SNK. Garou: Mark of the Wolves is copyright SNK Playmore.