Real Bout Fatal Fury – 1995 Developer Interview

Real Bout Fatal Fury – 1995 Developer Interview

This Real Bout Fatal Fury interview first appeared in an official strategy guide in 1995. I’ve supplemented it with concept art and a few additional tidbits of information from Neo Geo Freak magazine, as well. It’s a bit more informative than other SNK interviews I’ve translated, and explains the design philosophy and reasoning behind several gameplay changes from Fatal Fury 3.

—What was your concept for this installment of Fatal Fury?

Staff: A new Fatal Fury, one that both beginners and experienced players could enjoy, punched up with loads of snazzy visual effects. That was our image, but of course, the way newcomers and veteran players enjoy a FTG is dramatically different, right? Newcomers play relatively casually, and want to be able to perform lots of different special moves; meanwhile, veterans are more interested in precise timing and big combos. We tried to appeal to both, but above all, to make it the kind of game that jumps out at you visually.

This may be too subtle to notice on first glance, but did you see how most of the stage backgrounds are done in darker colors? We did that so the flashy HIT marks and player graphics would stand out all the more. We asked ourselves, what do players really want to see in a FTG game today? And what you see in Real Bout Fatal Fury is the answer we came up with.

I think you can say this about any game, but if it looks good, it will look fun to players. With that principle as our basis, we endeavored to make a game that truly anyone could enjoy.

—As the fifth installment of the Fatal Fury series, how does it relate to the other games?

Staff: I think for many players, it will remind them of Fatal Fury Special: a fast tempo, lots of combos, and a distinctly different feel from other FTGs… the more I think about it, the more it reminds me of Fatal Fury Special. (laughs) But we didn’t want to make the same game twice, so we really dug deep for new ideas and mechanics to add, to make it even more intereting.

Concept art for Andy and Terry Bogard.

—What is the meaning behind the title “Real Bout”?

Staff: That was actually the working project title of the original Garou Densetsu. As this development progressed, we wracked our brains trying to come up with a new title for this sequel, and wondered if changing the entire title itself wouldn’t be more interesting. Then someone suggested, “hey, what if we bring back ‘Real Bout’…” So we have a lot of attachment to it, as you might imagine.

—Why did you bring back Kim, Billy, and Duck for this game?

Staff: Well… the first one we decided on adding was Kim. But we got really stuck in deciding between Duck or Cheng. We did some research on which character was more popular, and which had a more interesting moveset, and the dance-fighter Duck came out on top. Originally, we were going to add a new character… but during the development, Billy’s popularity grew and grew, and we decided on him. We considered adding a hidden character too, but we thought it would be strange to have another boss fight after the battle with Geese.

—Why did you bring back Geese as the final boss?

Staff: We wanted to bring the saga of the Bogard siblings and Geese to a conclusion, so we chose Geese as the last boss.

Geese Howard concept art.

—We probably won’t be seeing Geese again in future games, will we…?

Staff: Hmmm. It’s difficult, but among the developers, we see this as Garou Densetsu—a legend being told. Exactly because Geese is so charismatic, it wouldn’t make sense to keep bringing him back again and again. We can probably use him in a similar episodic capacity, though.

As you know, Geese does appear again in the new Real Bout Fatal Fury Special. During the location test, I was watching a player fight (and get demolished by) the CPU-controlled Geese. The defeated player turned directly toward the screen, and as if in supplication, cried out “Geese-sama…” It struck me in that moment that the players have an even stronger connection to these characters than the developers themselves.

—Lilly appears in Joe’s ending in Fatal Fury 3… what has happened to them since then?

Staff: Billy has torn a rift between the two of them, but Lilly still seems to hold a candle in her heart for Joe. Joe, on the other hand, appears to still be crazy for her.

—I also saw that only Billy got a big update to his clothing this time. Does that perhaps reflect an inner change in his character?

Staff: Not particularly. But did you notice the “NO SMOKING” print on the back of his jumper? It’s not to say Billy doesn’t smoke… it’s just something he found randomly in the city (he didn’t pay for it, by the way).

—Why did you update the layout of the buttons so much for Real Bout?

Staff: About that. In Fatal Fury 3 we introduced the Oversway Line. It seemed to be very difficult for new players, but we were convinced the idea itself was good. So we tried to make it easier to use this game, which meant adding a dedicated button for it. That was the biggest reason for changing the entire button layout.

Besides that, three attack buttons corresponded nicely to weak-mid-strong, which matched our vision of a game that would be simple to understand, but deep.

Concept art for Duck King, who was chosen for inclusion in Real Bout Fatal Fury instead of Cheng.

—Tell us about the creation of the new “Ring Out” mechanic.

Staff: We had a lot of different ideas for the ring out system, at first… like having the players fall off of buildings, or get eaten by animals outside the ring, or be frozen… different ways to die. (laughs)

It changes the way you use your attacks depending on whether you’re in the center or edges of the screen. Those were the kind of thrilling, dynamic fights we were hoping to create by adding the ring out system.

—How did you come up with the idea for Combination Attacks?

Staff: Well, there were “Combination Arts” in Fatal Fury 3 too… remember? They were really fun if you played a lot, but the input timing was too severe, so in Real Bout we wanted to improve on them.

—Can you tell us about the “Hidden Abilities”, which are even more powerful than Super Special Attacks?

Staff: The Hidden Ability moves also first appeared in Fatal Fury 3, actually. As the name suggests, they’re supposed to be hidden abilities each character possesses—abilities far above their normal level—that are only released in the heat of battle when one’s psyche is being pushed to the absolute limit. That was our image for them, but in Fatal Fury 3, you couldn’t use them freely at will. We wanted to make them easier to use and more in-line with our original vision, so we added a power gauge for them.

—The special moves are a lot easier to execute in Real Bout. And you publicly released the command inputs for the special moves ahead of the game’s release this time.

Staff: Pulling off flashy special moves and combos are what make a FTG game feel fun. We didn’t think there was any reason to hide those or make them too hard to do. Plus, most of our staff and the players felt the same way.

—The combo system allows for very big chains. What made you include this new combo system?

Staff: You’re referring to the Rush Hit system—it was to bring out the sense of excitement and exhiliration. Nothing beats that feeling of being able to chain together moves (especially special moves) into a nice combo.

Blue Mary concept art.

The thing about combos though is that if they’re too long, the other player will get bored seeing them again and again. So there’s lot of opportunities for multi-hit attacks, but to the best of our ability, we tried to avoid really long combos.

—Please give a final message for fans of Fatal Fury series.

Staff: I think the Fatal Fury games have a very distinct style and flavor from other FTGs. I know opinions will differ, but we’ve designed the games to be enjoyed by as wide an audience as possible, so I hope you enjoy them and continue to show us your support.

Concept art for Joe Higashi, who the developers say was relegated to a background role in this game’s plot, in favor of the drama between the Bogard siblings and Geese.
Concept art for fan favorite Mai Shiranui.

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