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© 1992 SNK Corporation
Art Of Fighting / Ryuuko No Ken Reviewed by Kitsune Sniper

The premier Neo-Geo fighting game, which has extremely well drawn graphics for its time, but horrid controls.

The story is this: Ryo Sakazaki's sister, Yuri, has been kidnapped by somebody from the local mob. He goes into the city to investigate, aided by his best friend and rival, Robert Garcia.

Ryo is a Kyokugen-Ryu Karate master, and as such, it's his duty to promptly beat up anyone who may have information on his sister's whereabouts. The game has 10 characters, but you can only choose between two in one player mode, or eight in Versus mode, since the bosses are not selectable.

Besides the usual fighting game controls, this was the first appearance of the Spirit Meter. This meter depletes when you use a special attack or get taunted, and you won't be able to use any more special attacks unless you rechage it. This meter has appeared since in many games under different rules, but it originated here!

Gameplay: 3
Sigh. This is the game's worst aspect. The control works fine, but some of the newer players may feel confused by the difficulty of executing the special moves. You have to get used to the controls, but when you understand them, you can beat the game [or at least make it to Mr. Big] easily.

Another thing that may annoy younger or impatient players is the CPU's ability to stun you with one hit. And also, it pulls off some really cheap hits that take away WAY too much energy.

Story: 6
It has a decent story, and the game is set in the same universe as the Fatal Fury series. The events that occur in this game are the prelude to that series. Another cool addition is the pre-fight dialogue, where Ryo or Robert talk trash to everyone before fighting. However, for some reason, there is no ending! You get a short story, and the phrase "TO BE CONTINUED?" appears.

Graphics: 8
At first, you may think that this is a Street Fighter II clone. And it is. But what set this apart from other wannabes is the graphics. Every single frame of animation, every sprite in the background, from Mr. Karate's tengu mask to King's pink bra [er... should I have said that?] is finely detailed, and though the graphics are dated, they show the potential that the Neo-Geo had back then, and still shows today. The characters fill up almost 3/4 of the screen, and when they move apart, the screen zooms out, but the zooming out really makes the graphics look grainy.

Sound/Music: 5
The voices are great, but the music can get kinda repetitive in some stages.

Overall, this game is a challenge to anyone. But it isn't the best game out there. For one of the first games on the now venerable Neo-Geo, this one's a keeper. The high difficulty can win it some fans, but will make most look away.

Here are some additional game screens: