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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Garou - Mark of the Wolves


This 1999 output from SNK is both an answer to Capcom's Street Fighter 3 and the ninth installment in the Fatal Fury series. While ties and references to the aforementioned title are numerous, Garou certainly chooses to thread along a different path as opposed to following one which have been established already by its predecessors, let alone the evident aspiration to deliver a game which should and might rival with Capcom's Street Fighter 3.

The Japanese word Garou translates to hungry wolf, an entity the game gives you 12 metaphorical variants of via a character roster composed of subtly diverse personas. While the number of protagonists is not exactly the highest you had chance to witness in a fighting game, this deficit allowed SNK to include more frames for character animations. The results are exceptionally fluid motions, combined with a very steep attention devoted to detail work. With true eye candy 2D presentation and a new system it introduces and proudly relies on, many regard Garou as one of the most enjoyable fighter experiences ever to date. Now it is time to scrutinize this work superclosely.

Enjoy and Read on!

As mentioned, this SNK effort was an answer to Capcom's Street Fighter 3, a title that finally hit the arcades when the firm no longer had face/courage/guts/place to add any more words to the Street Fighter II title AND release related variants as completely fresh outputs. How about Super Street Fighter II Turbo? While a Super Street Fighter II Turbo Special and a Super Street Fighter II Turbo Special 2 also would have been nice, Capcom instead chose to release a brand new episode back in 1997, a highly successful statement that probably shaped the creative powers and motives to fuel this here trademark delivery.

Garou brings essential changes to the table when compared to the previous Fatal Fury statements. The focal alterations do concern an increased degree of instant accessibility in certain aspects, while the final name of the game is the massively complex structure the entire system is built and offers exceptional - sorry about this - depth upon.

The T.O.P. gauge you need to set in on your lifebar once you pick your character represents your Tactical Offensive Position. Once your lifebar reaches the T.O.P. portion your character deals an increased damage when connecting, her/his health increases constantly and the special T.O.P. attacks do become accessible, too. T.O.P. assaults are mainly consensual attacks, invoked by the same command. This customizable period a character can exhibit increased efficiency by gives an extra tactical touch to the game, something which is spiced up both by the "common" specials each character has a decent set of, let alone Super and Power specials which are available once the corresponding meters on the bottom section invite players to unleash ruthless efficiency.

Super moves are mainly consensus commands with but a few exceptions to them on part of certain characters, as far as Power moves go, they are accessible once a protagonist chooses to build up a maximized Super gauge - now the possessor is ready to score a Power attack in, similarly invoked by consensus moves with but a few exception to this direction. As you might have guessed and probably guessed correctly, Gauge increasement occurs when you manage to connect, though taking assaults in has a tendency to offer some Gauge power as well. All characters possess a decent selection of these rampant delicacies in their arsenal, while the common specials and the subtle, integral core system Garou supports these focal elements with do invite us to taste a fighting experience which essentially begs to be invoked. Let us elaborate on these gameplay methods.

Garou heavily relies on the brand new Just Defense system when compared to previous SNK and Capcom efforts: a Just Defense maneuver occurs when you block an attack in the last possible moment as opposed of blocking offensive moves all the while. Successful Just Defense is Good News: it gives back life to you. Unsuccessful Just Defense is Bad News: you will suffer the harm intended without any block to damp the punishment down whatsoever. Just Defense is a truly nice implementation which invites you to demonstrate not just a safety-based, but instead a skill-based defensive game. Via the health increase a successful Just Defense worths and a flawed one tolls on you, the system becomes a focal factor and an element to imbue tactics into the flow when two great Just Defenders meet. Actually, the game features an invisible gauge which we might regard as the Guard gauge: if you eat in too many attacks in a short period, your Guard will be effectively crushed, leaving you pretty much helpless against consecutive attacks for a brief period.

Guard Cancels are reliant on the Just Defense system: certain kinds of special moves - for the Impatient: Special Command Moves, T.O.P. moves and Super Moves - can be transitioned and utilized as Guard Cancel moves, granted you Just Defended an attack. Time is both little and precious to introduce these cancels though, as you will have but a little more than a moment to state your special from behind the Just Defense you - naturally - just exhibited.

Feint moves are new, and pretty cool, too: the commands for these moves are consensual ones, while the moves themselves look different on a per character basis. Feints are both nice decoys and gateways to delicious parts of the system's depths. When you throw a Feint, your character will mimic one of her/his trademark specials by introducing the first few frames of the related animation, yet you are free to turn the Feint into an instant assault against an enemy whom is hopefully got misled by the Feint itself. This subsystem offers firm possibility to form combo chains by Feinting out from certain normal attacks, something the game allows, even invites you to do. Now it is up to the player to construct and develop longer combo chains that are incorporating both the Feints and the consecutive attacks.

What about Break moves? Each character has one or more Specials that can be broken up by a consensus command, giving opportunity to make your next action via any direction you want after splitting this particular special. These Break moves can be incorporated into combos, which of course is a yumi, yumi. Normally you can implement one Break move per combo, though you will see that this directive is but a directive indeed, not a rule which reigns intact and permanent. Successful Countering can open pathways to multiple Break moves. A Counter hit occurs when you manage to connect on your rival prior she/he could finish an opposing move that she/he was busy introducing. Garou likes Counters immensely, thus also delivers a rather complex and balanced subsystem to incorporate them.

The following sentence might sound a bit complicated, as it will concern move buffering. A quite nice thing about Garou is that it remembers movements and recognizes once a complex command have been both started and then have been finished, regardless if some additional command and its related move have been given and executed in between starting and finishing the more complex move which is incorporating the simpler move. Hey, thanks for still being here. This ability of buffering commands is naturally opens up nice additional perspectives. Garou also offers complex evasive maneuvers via upper body and lower body variants, yet each character have only one kind of main evasion form - upper or lower - available for them.

Throws are implemented nicely with a pair of related minigames to spice this here subsystem up further: you can escape throw grips if you use the consensus move with the right timing, while an underlying roll structure gives the players opportunity to decide how and when to roll - if to anywhere, that is - when knocked down. A swift forward roll might very well earn you both a grip on your rival and a successful throw, or a knee in your face which is not necessarily the result you were hoping for, yet an unsuccessful attempt at least still does remain an attempt, yes?

Garou still weighs in as a very integral and flamboyant 2D fighting system which remains supereasy both to recommend and to develop an immense liking for. But a final tip remains before you are advised to punish some Garou butts: if you want to face the Final Hidden Boss - and hell, you WANT to face the Final Hidden Boss as this is the only way to see your character's end sequence - then you do not necessarily want to score lower than an "A" Fighting Rank during the bouts, especially be sure that you do not lose a round against Grant, the great Sub-Boss Garou introduces. Kain awaits you, and it is Kain who waits for you, indeed.

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related recommendation:
Garou - Mark of the Wolves Guide

Garou - Mark of the Wolves System

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