In 1991, two major fighting games were released into the arcades, one from both of the major arcade houses: SNK and Capcom. Capcom's Street Fighter II bore little resemblance to its prequel, but soon became one of the most popular, and enduring, games of the decade. SNK had a brand new title to their name, Fatal Fury, which was dogged by accusations of being a 'rip-off' of Street Fighter II. Whether or not this is the case has never been conclusively proven; while evidence suggests Fatal Fury had been in development since 1990, before SF2's release, it could well have incorporated features late in development.
Both series had memorable casts, with players arguing long and hard over who was the strongest, 'cheapest', or most difficult to defeat. Each had a final boss to defeat, both of whom would continue to surface in the inevitable wash of sequels. However, it is Fatal Fury's final character who remains, in my mind, to be one of the best yet seen in fighting games - a character to utterly, unashamedly evil, who will stop at nothing to achieve his ends.
Geese Howard may sound like an odd name, but behind his avian moniker stands a character who has, for over ten years, constantly been posing a threat to the safety of SNK's world. Initially a crime lord with almost unlimited influence over the fictitious city of Southtown, he has since extended his ambition to nothing short of complete immortality. Geese is ruthless, calculating, and a more than competant fighter, only stopped by the constant efforts of those who would preserve world order.
- Name: Geese Howard
- Birthday: January 21st, 1953
- Height: 6ft / 183cm
- Weight: 180.8lbs / 82kg
- Fighting style: Hakkyokuseiken
- Blood type: B
- Birthplace: USA
- Favourite food: Steak
- Hobby: None
- Dislikes: Those who oppose him
- Favourite sport: None, although is reasonably good at billiards
Geese's history is one of treachery. As a young man, he trained alongside Jeff Bogard, both studying under the auspices of Tung Fu Rue. The pair were equally competent at their art, each vying for the honour of being taught the martial art's secrets by their master. Tung Fu Rue, however, had already made up his mind to teach Bogard; he regarded Geese as a man not to be trusted with such ability. Since the moment that Jeff was chosen, Geese swore revenge.
Revenge would have to wait for the moment, as more pressing 'business' matters took priority. Geese's power in Southtown was growing, and soon he was quite the kingpin. Realising the Sakazaki family, who practiced their own Kyokugenryu karate, would pose quite a problem, he had his lackey Mr. Big threaten Takuma Sakazaki into working for him. Assuming the identity Mr. Karata, Takuma had no choice but to carry out Geese's work.
Takuma finally snapped when Geese ordered him to kill Jeff Bogard. In order to force his hand, Mr. Big kidnapped Takuma's own daughter, Yuri Sakazaki, and ordered Takuma to fight his own son, Ryo when the inevitable rescue attempt was launched. Ryo almost killed his father, until Yuri revealed that Mr. Karate (who was disguised) was indeed Takuma. The family swore revenge on Geese, and managed (in Art of Fighting 2) to defeat him in combat, aided by their friend Robert Garcia. However, Geese managed to evade capture, surviving Ryo's deathblow.
Furious, Geese proceeded to eliminate Jeff Bogard himself, callously gunning down his fellow student in a drive-by shooting. Jeff's two adopted sons, Terry and Andy Bogard, witnessed it all, and knew they would one day avenge their father's death.
By 1992 (and the game Fatal Fury), Geese had risen to the very top of the criminal heirarchy, assuming the role of Southtown's crime overlord. In order to amuse himself, and put down any potential threats to his regime, he ordered the first King of Fighters tournament, setting up his personal bodyguard Billy Kane as the tournament champion. Seeing the contest advertised, the two Bogard brothers and friend Joe Higashi entered, and soon the three had advanced sufficiently through the competition for Terry to have to fight Billy. Despite the odds being against him, Terry finally defeated the champion, and won the honour of a fight against Geese Howard himself.
Geese and Terry fought at the very top of Geese Tower, with the battle initially even until Terry managed to land a punch to Geese which through him backwards with enough force to break glass. Geese plummeted downwards, apparently to his doom; but even when the newspapers reported his death, it was revealed that he had managed to survive for three hours after arriving in hospital.
There are many theories floating around regarding how on Earth Geese managed to survive the fall, for despite all reports, he somehow escaped with his life. Possibly, he slowed his descent by throwing shippu-ken (his personal fireball-like blue blasts of energy), or used his baggy hakama like a parachute; however it happened, Geese was humbled but very much after revenge. Geese decided to keep out of the limelight in the mean time, and watched with great interest as the King of Fighters tournament was picked up by Wolfgang Krauser, who himself was defeated by Terry.
Geese would dramatically return to the spotlight as The King of Fighters '96 was declared, entering in a team with Krauser and Mr. Big. Geese had heard rumours of a great power, the Orochi, which would suit his purposes just fine. With all the power the Orochi offered, he would be all but unstoppable, and could spread his ambitions far beyond Southtown - he could take over the world! As KoF '96 advanced, Geese fought with all his old strength, but failed to make the finals, watching instead as Kyo Kusanagi managed to defeat Goenitz. Geese failed to steal the Orochi's power for himself this year, and very nearly died as Mr. Big attempted to kill him (Only Billy Kane's timely intervention prevented it from succeeding), but vowed to claim the Orochi for himself by any means. By KoF '97, he had dispatched a team to fight for him, watching the tournament unfold and the true madness of the Orochi manifest itself.
In the mean time, another power drew his attention: a set of ancient scrolls, promising the bearer immortality. This was a not unpleasant effect in Geese's eyes, and he fought to claim them against many old faces. Once again, it was Terry Bogard who stood between him and his goal, again a duel being fought at the top of Geese Tower, now remade in the image of a traditional Japanese shrine. Despite all his abilities, Geese lost for a second time to Terry, and was knocked through the barriers surrounding the observation deck. Geese fell backwards, before suddenly something caught his arm - Terry! Bogard would not let Geese die a second time, hanging onto his fallen opponent. Geese just smiled. Throwing Terry's arm away, he let himself drop, and finally was gone.
Geese left behind a son, Rock Howard, who Terry would adopt as his own. While Geese Howard is presumed dead, he had made one miracle survival before and could very well again. It may be too early to declare his reign over, and so long as Rock lives, he will never truly be dead.