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Friday, May 30, 2008

Art of Fighting


The first Art of Fighting game hits arcades in 1992, an SNK title to conquer Capcom's extremely popular Street Fighter II. The game arrives in a period which greets a rather desperate SNK, as their previous effort to rival with Capcom, Fatal Fury, did not exactly manage to blow notable amount of pepper under the mighty organ Street Fighter II could, and still can call it's rather robust nose. With Art of Fighting though, SNK managed to create and ruthlessly deliver a highly successful output, one to introduce both fresh, well implemented ideas and the biggest sprites you ever saw to date by the day.

Enjoy and Read on!

Art of Fighting is the first game to rely on the character designs of Shinkiro, the artist with Za Mad Skillz, Brada'! who creates an excessive amount of designs for consecutive SNK games, though he will be employed by Capcom later on. Art of Fighting boosts truly hilarious presentation values via giving you the absolutely classic "B-ninja-action" mood and the hihgly sophisticated plot arch. OK, let's call it moderate instead, still hilarious, nevertheless. Noticed the subtitle yet? Indeed, an Info-Pounder. That is exactly what Art of Fighting is: the protagonists do gain blatant recognition that someone superclose to them has been kidnapped, so there is little left to do than choosing your warrior, then beating the hoile crap out of every single person whom are aware of 1. either of the kidnapper's identity, or 2. of someone who knows the identity of the kidnapper. It will shock you considerably that there are quite a few characters you need to tear through before you could do battle with the enemy who is aware of the Final Boss's identity.

A highly usual criticism towards Art of Fighting is that the game's story mode offers but two selectable characters, a deficit which, I think, is acceptable considering the plot arch, but the main problem I do see about the matter is that the game exhibits incapacity to give you the chance to play everything out of it even in single player. Let me explain: in Versus mode, players can select all of the eight characters and as such, surely do battle via any lineup the output can introduce, but you won't ever have the chance to control Jack's monumental ass to destruct an AI controlled Ryo Sakazaki. I think an even simple implementation of "1 Player Skirmish" would have been a must, regardless how I dislike "would have beens".

The system is rather fluid, combining nicely utilized base methods with ideas no one ever saw before. As for the base methods, Art of Fighting partly relies on a control scheme reminiscent to the system utilized by the majority of the first five Samurai Shodown games. The effort gives you a Punch, a Kick, a Throw and a Taunt button. While smashing the respective attack buttons together you can invoke an Uppercut Punch or a Low Kick to the shins, the Strong variants of the basic punches and kicks will be invoked by the Throw button once you simply declared what kind of maneuver - punch or kick - you plan to currently rely on. As this might sound a little bit confusing at first, let us clarify this for good: if you are close to your opponent and press the Throw button - a throw will occur. You might need to move towards your enemy at the same time to accomplish a throw. If you throw a punch - SIC! - or a kick THEN press the Throw button from the distance, then either a Strong Kick or Strong Punch occurs, depending on what maneuver you just buffered to the button. I truly hope now your confusion is either totally absent or complete.
Blocking happens by the usual way: just move towards the direction your opponent is facing, and don't forget to keep the direction by the moment the attack connects.
We must account on a funny-ass basic maneuver the game knows of and invites you to utilize: this is an off-the wall "off-the-side-of-the-screen" jump kick, usable by most characters. Dodging and dashing are available by the usual, respective double directions.

The most notable feature Art of Fighting grew quite popular by is the implementation of the Spirit gauge. Special moves do cost Spirit Power in Art of Fighting, the more Spirit you have, the more damaging your Specials will be. If you lack the required Spirit energy to introduce a certain kind of Special, then your character either will do not perform it at all, or there will be not much thanks in it. As we do see, the Spirit gauge is of essential importance, as are the methods of keeping these gauges as full as possible if it is ours, and to drain them ruthlessly if it is possessed by a rival in the opposing corner. Fortunately, Art of Fighting does support a very nice minigame concerning these gauges, indeed. Here are the rules: if you want to fill your Spirit gauge, all you need to do is to stand still and hold one of your attack buttons. Your vulnerability is of course will be increased during this brief meditative period, but your reward is either a fully or a partly refilled Spirit gauge.

Taunting is the method to drain the rival's Spirit gauge down. These are funny little animations with occasional tiny remarks to them, each exhibiting excessive cockiness, actually, enough to drain the viewer's Spirit gauge. First and foremost, the method makes "Special Spamming" impossible, I refer to the method if and when a player chooses to utilize the same maneuver in a repetitious fashion, yet, we must certainly account this integral solution as a significant element of tactics and good fun, reigning intact, grateful, solid in the game's system.

Special moves are learned along the way, in a quite nicely presented fashion. Art of Fighting delivers bonus segments that have more impact on the gameplay than pumping your score up. There are three types of these - notice the quality redundancy here: - little minigames in the effort, all of them influencing your character in one way or another. While chances of increasing the length of your Spirit gauge will be offered on two occasions, you will be even presented with the opportunity to master the Highly Illegal Secret Technique!, coming to you as a nice Special you can rely on for the upcoming bouts. Oh, do not believe me: if I am not mistaken, you can use all Specials from the very start, please correct me if I am wrong. While the prizes you earn by a successfully accomplished Bonus attempt do not exactly redefine the standards of RPG excellence, they surely do manage to add nice and proper flavors to the core experience.

There are some secret Specials/Desperation moves available for some, though definitely not all of the characters. Ryo Sakazaki and Robert Garcia, the selectable 1 Player contestants both do have such a maneuver, yet you need to fulfill various, strict conditions to be able to unleash your Desperation Special. See the linked Guide for details.

Beyond a system that frequently delivers rather swift rounds and tends to exhibit rampant aggressivity when combating the CPU, the game rewards a cautious gameplay with a strong focus placed on awareness of WHEN to throw a Special at the enemy. These moments usually concern long range ground-and airborne attacks, offensive segments you want to throw a Special in to counter the intended assault. Keeping opposition away initially seems to be most fluent with the use of projectile Specials - as long as either the enemy does start to come forward or your Spirit energy empties. Now it is your choice whether to risk a forwarding yourself or to set the pace for a period of countering. And never, ever forget about the throw: throw that throw instead.

With it's integral presentation values Art of Fighting remains among the 2D Fighters that managed to enrich the genre by delivering fresh solutions, thus creating a more flamboyant experience than the era's average 2D Fighter could or even ever aspired for. Not to mention to introduce Ryo Sakazaki. Never ever would occur to you that Ryo is a mixture of two highly popular Street Fighter characters, Ryu and Ken, right? Never ever would occur to you that it is just: NATURAL to look Caucasian with blond hair and blazing eyes, still possessing the name Ryo Sakazaki. Unless I am not in some fatal misunderstanding, then these are among the little vibes and traits that certainly give extra appeals to Art of Fighting, in my opinion. As hinted, the output marks a significant milestone in SNK's history as well, as Art of Fighting was their first delivery that could gain massive and devoted attention in an era excessively characterized by Capcom's Street Fighter II. And the ENDING, what a tremendously, hilariously and amazingly bad ENDING it sports!

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related recommendation:
Art of Fighting Guide

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