This informative Fatal Fury 3 interview was originally featured in Neo Geo Freak magazine. The first half covers mechanic and system changes from the previous games, including the addition of an additional plane and oversway moves. The second half centers on the characters themselves, five of which were new for this entry. Finally, a nice collection of concept art showcases the early and rejected character designs.

King of Fighters 94 interview
Real Bout Fatal Fury interview

Fatal Fury 3 – 1995 Developer Interview

originally featured in Neo Geo Freak Magazine

—Up till now the Fatal Fury games have used a two-plane battle system, which you’ve expanded to three-planes for Fatal Fury 3. I can see how this allows for a wider array of strategies, but I can also see how it would make for a very challenging development. What were some of the points you struggled with there?

SNK: The two-plane system had a foreground and background plane, and in those games, to convey a sense of distance, we made it so you had to jump to move between them. For this game we’re using three planes, so to make the front and rear planes more obvious, we’ve done two things: first, we’ve added some movements that serve to make the distance between the planes feel shorter, and second, we’ve re-drawn and changed the visual angle on some of the character’s movements a bit. Both were challenging.

—The two-plane system has been very popular so far. Was there a specific reason you decided to upgrade it to three planes for FF3?

SNK: We wanted the whole plane-battle concept to feel more three-dimensional, and more high-paced.

—In Fatal Fury Special, you only had the “attack dodge” (attacks performed by pressing forward + LP while blocking), but now there are a number of new mechanics like the Quick Sway. Where did these new ideas come from? Also, if you have any humorous episodes to share concerning their creation, please do.

SNK: The fact that the “attack dodge” is something you perform while blocking meant we wanted to leave it as-is. The Quick Sway, in contrast, was added because we wanted to include a dodge you could perform from a basic stance. Early in the development, we tested out a version without the dodge attack, where you could Quick Sway into the front and rear planes, but the command input proved too difficult so we abandoned the idea.

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Concept art for monk fighter Sokaku Mochizuki, showing two early
designs that were ultimately rejected.

—The previous Fatal Fury games have had some story to them, but I think this is the first game where the story has been pushed to the forefront. Was there a reason for expanding it this time?

SNK: Since over half the characters this game are new, by expanding and strengthening the storyline, we thought it would give the newer characters a more clearly defined reason for being.

—For the Oversway Attacks, you can attack with any of the buttons (A, B, C, or D), but the Anti-Oversway Attacks can only be performed by A+B or B+C. Why did you divide the controls up in this way?

SNK: It was so the player in the middle plane would not be able to perform a special attack, crouching attack, or other counterattack to the player in the other planes.

—In Fatal Fury Special, one thing all the characters shared in common was the same throw command (getting close and pushing toward+attack), but in FF3, each character has a specific command input for throws and it’s become a lot harder. Why did you change that?

SNK: For one, we wanted to use actual hit detection to determine if you’re able to make a throw or not. Also, by making throws rely on command inputs, we wanted to eliminate some of the graphical weirdness with the way thrown characters would suddenly appear behind the thrower. On top of that, we also don’t think it’s good for the game for players to be relying too much on throws.

—One of the new mechanics was the “throw combo”. Why are only a few characters (Blue Mary, Geese Howard, Sokaku) able to perform throw combos?

SNK: Basically, we only wanted throw combos to be available to characters for whom throws are a central aspect of their fighting style.

—5 of the 10 characters this time are new to the series. What is your standard for deciding which characters to retain, from sequel to sequel? Personally I was a fan of Big bear, so I was very sad to see he didn’t make the cut.

SNK: I’ll go one by one. When you hear “Fatal Fury”, Terry Bogard is the guy everyone thinks of, so he was of course in. And in turn, the person who brings out the best in Terry is his brother Andy, so he was in too.

At first, we weren’t going to add Mai. We were originally going to have a female character named Alice Chrysler, but we yielded to the fans’ demands and added Mai after all. Storywise, we wanted it to be about Geese’s return, so he was in. As for Joe, he plays the role of brash loud guy—you need someone like that to keep the energy high, so we kept him in.

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Concept art for capoeira fighter Bob Wilson, with two rejected designs on the right. The earlier designs feel very different from what they settled on; the middle design also jokingly suggests that one of Bob’s attacks should be “Shishkabob.”

—Several of the older characters had one of their special moves removed (Rising Tackle, Bakuretsuken) and were given new moves in exchange. What was your intention in removing those moves, and how did you decide?

SNK: We took out Terry’s Rising Tackle because we wanted to add a new move for him, Power Dunk. Rising Tackle resembled Power Dunk a little too closely, and it would have diluted Power Dunk’s impact as a new move. For Joe’s Bakuretsuken, we cut it because wanted to put a stronger emphasis on his short-range rush attacks and combos.

—Do you have any interesting anecdotes to share involving the creation of the five new characters?

SNK: When we make new characters, we start by first deciding what kind of fighting style they’ll use.

For the capoeira style which Bob uses, we wanted a musical fighting style. And in the backstory Bob is Richard’s pupil, so we chose capoeira for him.

We liked combat sambo (Blue Mary’s style) because it was the only martial art we knew which combined MMA and pro wrestling. We wanted it for the diverse number of locking techniques it contained.

As for kickboxing, Franco’s style, we’ve had kickboxing’s “rival” style muay thai since the beginning with Joe Higashi, but now that Joe’s story is no longer one of the main focuses of Fatal Fury, we decided there was room for another kick-centered fighting style.

Hon Fu was originally going to be a legendary karate master, but we wanted him to use nunchuks, so we needed a Chinese fighting style and chose kung fu instead.

Likewise, instead of the original fighting style which Sokaku uses, he was going to be a young karate practitioner. We wanted a character with more oomph and impact though, so we decided to make him something closer to a komusou (mendicant) monk.

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Concept art for Andy Bogard. The upper right design, which is a bit more generic and angry, was rejected. The bottom right design (which was almost certainly never intended for the game) shows the designers having some fun with “Model Andy”.

—Andy Bogard is dressed just like a ninja, so does that mean the shiranui fighting style he employs is based on ninjutsu?

SNK: Shiranui has two different aspects: ninjutsu and taijutsu. Mai specializes in ninjutsu, while Andy has learned the taijutsu aspect. Shiranui taijutsu branched off from ninjutsu, so it has retained some of that influence.

—Why was Geese’s move Wicked Shadow Fist removed for Fatal Fury SP? And why did you bring it back for FF3?

SNK: We absolutely wanted to include it in Fatal Fury SP, actually, but the schedule was tight and we simply ran out of time. It was our dream to bring it back for FF3, and it was on our “must add” list from the very beginning of the development.

—Mai’s costume has changed to be a little less revealing. Why?

SNK: There was no particular reason.

—Why do all of Bob’s special moves have animal names?

SNK: Bob is a big animal lover, so he put his own spin on a lot of traditional capoeira moves by mixing them with different animal movements. Some of his normal attacks are also named after animals.

—Franco Bash is a former kickboxer, but his kick moves seem kind of plain and lacking, I thought. Was he bad at kick attacks or something?

SNK: Even in his kickboxing days, Bash was the kind of boxer who relied more on his punches, which he could put a lot of his weight behind. That’s why we decided to focus on strengthening his punches, which had always been his strong point, and he uses his kicks more for feints and deception.

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Joe Higashi’s personality was apparently modeled after the lead character from the Japanese show Abarehacchaku, originally a series of kid books and later a TV series, about a plucky kid who fights crime and bad guys.

—Did you model Joe Higashi on anyone?

SNK: He was modeled after the lead character of Abarehacchaku.

—Tell us how the character of Joe Higashi was born.

SNK: We wanted to make someone who filled the same role as the Ki Ranger character (from Himitsu Sentai Gorenger). Terry and Andy are the “hero” characters, you see, and they have to shoulder the heavier, more serious plotlines… Joe is meant to be more of a clown-ish character, a life of the party type.

—In his profile it says his “important possession” is his hachimaki (headband). What makes it so special for him?

SNK: When Joe left Japan to travel abroad, that headband was given to him by his grandmother, so that no matter where he went, he would never forget his homeland.

—His profile used to say that he disliked school, but now it says he dislikes “formal clothes”. Why did it change? Did something happen?

SNK: Mai kept forcing him to wear suits, and now he completely hates them.

—How are things going between Joe and Lily Kane?

SNK: Zero progress. Billy’s guard is too strong.

—Fatal Fury has always been known for having a lot of cheerful, bright, positive characters, but Sokaku Mochizuki strikes a markedly different tone with his darker persona. Was there any anxiety about this change while you were making him?

SNK: From the start, we knew we wanted to include a new style of character, one we’d never had before. It was explicitly written there in the planning documents, so no, there wasn’t any anxiety or awkwardness about that.

—Some people have theorized that Geese and Andy are father and son… is it true?

SNK: Nope.

—Why does Mai treat Terry like an older brother?

SNK: It’s because she fancies herself to be Andy’s betrothed.

—I’ve heard the Terry and Mai have special hidden finishing moves that occur at a very low frequency. Is that true? Do the other characters have hidden moves?

SNK: Besides Franco Bash, they all do.

—Is there some connection between Hon Fu and Kim Kaphwan?

SNK: At one point both Kim and Hon Fu trained at the same dojo in Korea. During that time, there was a woman named Myonsaku who was secretly in love with Kim, and Hon Fu helped play a role in bringing them together. Hon Fu doesn’t seem to have liked Kim very much, however.

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Concept art for Terry Bogard. The two sketches on the right are rejected designs. The bottom right design features cowboy boots, a tattoo, and a pendant he “received from a girl.”

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Early (rejected) concept art for Mai. Both designs are less revealing; the one on the left appears to be a slightly more mature and elegant take on the character.

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Concept art for Blue Mary, included two rejected designs on the right.

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Two rejected designs for Hon Fu. The simple design on the right reflects the original idea for his character as a karate fighter. The left design is more interesting, and brings to mind the opening scene of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

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Early (rejected) designs for Franco Bash, playing around with his hairstyle, stature, and clothing. A note next to the mullet design indicates that the back of his jacket would have had a huge skull on it.

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Two alternate designs for Ryuji Yamazaki. The design on the left is unusual and would have made for a very different character.