Art of Fighting AnthologyESRB:
Platform: PlayStation 2
Developer – SNK
PS2 memory card 55KB
Digital Control/ Analog Control
I remember spending long stretches of time in the arcades hungrily feeding the street fighter machines any and all my spare cash. Hours on hours of stepping up or aside as more and more kids would try to get in on the whole 2d sprite based fighting craze. While Capcom had the market to themselves for a short period more companies decided to put out similar games. SNK was just one of these companies as they barraged the market with huge amount of games such as World Heroes 1-2 and Samurai Showdown among others. One of my favourite was The Art of Fighting. It was 2d sprite based arcade action at its best. Years later SNK came on hard times as the market dropped out of the arcade scene, and 2D games were became things of the past. However as time wore on SNK managed to survive after some deals were struck to keep them around...Hooray!! SNK Playmore have recently released The Art of Fighting anthology. The 3 games are on one PS2 disc and they include Art of Fighting 1 and 2, plus The Path of the Warrior: Art of Fighting 3. Any old school arcade hound should instantly love this series.
To be quite honest after so many years and with all the new high horse power consoles available, the series really looks very dated. The games themselves don’t have the high resolution of the newer titles, but that should be expected. On the other hand, fans of the genre should appreciate the nicely colourful and hand drawn art. The game also moves at a lower frame rate than what most gamers are used to, although once locked in fight you never really notice it. The games included on the disk are all arcade perfect, meaning the quirks and any issues in the arcade are faithfully reproduced here on the disc. I did notice at times the very same popping in and out of graphics here and there just like the arcade titles.
As these titles are pretty much arcade perfect, the various sounds and music are directly from the original games. That being said, gamers can get ready for some gaming cheese. The music can range from nicely arranged orchestral intros to full rocking hair metal. The sound quality has not been improved from the arcade and it can sound a little muddied at times, like 2 channel mono. This shouldn’t deter any enjoyment of gameplay though, in fact I laughed out loud a few times on how it matched some of the gameplay. There really is not a lot of voice work in the game, although each fighter does have his or her own sounds comprising of various yells and screams as they perform their manoeuvres. The only other voice is of the high-octane announcer who can be a bit over the top at times.
All fighting games use the same sort of control scheme and this game is no different. Your d-pad moves the fighter and any combination of buttons will perform the desired effect...hopefully. Art of fighting is no different in this manner as well as you time your punches, kicks, and any super move to become victorious. Art of Fighting also has a spirit meter, which can be continually drained or replenished. Once your meter is full you will be able to execute your super move. The effect is simple but the resulting move can inflict serious damage on the opposing fighter. On the other hand, if your meter has been depleted than you can be quite susceptible to the opponent’s super move, so good defence is always at the forefront of a good offence.
Like the arcade I found the controls to be a little tough to master. The controls felt like wet sponge at times, a little slow and a bit lumbering. This can cause problems in the heat of battle, trying to get out combos. With some practice I found that you could live with it and overcome the handicap.
There are 33 fighters you can use in free play, but in story mode there is 2 main characters available. In the story mode you will have to find Yuri, one the heroes sisters. She has been kidnapped and it’s up to you to battle through the enemies and find her. I am hoping you don’t expect a deep and engrossing as this game is a fighting game, and stories are not usually attached to this genre.
All three games are very similar in execution but where they differ are in the finishing moves or entirely different enemies. Each one has its own distinctive style, but they also have many things in common. Overall you will probably not find a lot of difference in each game as they heavily borrow off of each other. And this is not a bad thing as all play quite well and you will no doubt have fun with them. These games definitely hearken back to a time that is pretty much forgotten in this day and age of high definition and 3D graphics.
Art of fighting Anthology is a good look at how the fighting game craze began and evolved. This compilation started off in the arcades of yesteryear and has now come home to become a trip down memory lane. Older hardcore gamers like me will probably love this title, as it does represent and easier, simple and somewhat more fun time in gaming. However, newer and younger gamers may balk at the sprite based games but I don’t think they will see the fun factor in a game like this. Few companies like SNK could make games in this genre more enjoyable, and now we get to live some of our arcade glories out at home.