Fatal Fury -Real Bout 2-
Fatal Fury -Real Bout 2-
April 17, 1998
Buy Used Copy
With their annual outputs of fighting series such as Fatal Fury, King of Fighters, and Samurai Spirits, SNK were a major reason why the fighting games market became overpopulated in the 1990s. Fatal Fury -Real Bout 2-: The Newcomers was the 1998 edition of the series and, despite its name, was little more than an upgrade of the already derivative Fatal Fury -Real Bout Special-. Despite the title, there were just three newcomers introduced. SNK largely recycled their score for the game, but added a handful of new compositions and arrangements, all of which are featured in the soundtrack release.
Like Fatal Fury -Real Bout Special- before it, a large portion of the soundtrack is dedicated to arrangements of existing character themes from the franchise. The sound team carefully selected tracks that matched the personalities of the featured characters, while resonating with series’ followers. For example, they selected Terry Bogard’s popular theme from Fatal Fury 2 in favour of his Fatal Fury 3 portrayal, while doing the reverse for his brother Andy. For the most part, the returning tracks are a diverse bunch. Ranging from the racing guitar riffs of Billy’s “London March”, to the wild sounds of Joe’s “A Special Poem…”, to the softer traditional sounds of Tung’s “How Can China Have 4000 Years of History?”, most will be accessible to newcomers and nostalgic for veterans alike. For those that love voiceovers, there’s even Duck King’s returning theme from Fatal Fury Real Bout.
The extent of the elaborations varies greatly from track to track. For example, Terry’s theme is completely revamped — the Neo Geo Music Performance Group wisely ditch the Peter Gunn influence in favour of a free-spirited big band-styled arrangement. In contrast, Bob Wilson’s theme hasn’t changed much from its latest incarnation. The samples are considerably richer and there are a few other tweaks, but not enough for it to stand up as novel entity. Given most tracks emerging from Fatal Fury 3 were already accomplished, the sound team saw little reason to change them. Yet other tracks are given major facelifts, for example the themes for Billy and Joe; they stay close to their originals, but benefit from more balanced arrangements and enhanced samples. They’re clearly superior to the original, but won’t exactly wow series’ collectors.
The soundtrack also includes a few compositions specifically created for Fatal Fury -Real Bout Special-. The most inspiring examples are the new themes for Hon Fu and Mai Shiranui. “Donchika!! Chi!! Chii!!” couldn’t be a better fit for the Hong Kong detective, mixing strong urban influences with some Asian flavours. While Mai Shiranui’s meditative themes were enjoyable in previous soundtracks, SNK decided the alluring character would suit a more upbeat pop-flavoured track better. Other shifts were less inspired. “Blue Mary’s Blues” is catchy enough, but is nowhere near as creative or emotional as her Fatal Fury 3 incarnation, while “GOLI-Rock” is a cookie-cutter rock piece that lacks the charm of Franco Bash’s original portrayal. There are also two orchestral contributions for the ultimate bosses, the motivating march “Determination” to portray the two Jins and a broken reduction of “Lacrimosa” from Mozart’s requiem for Wolfgang Krauser.
Of course, there are a few brand new tracks created for Fatal Fury -Real Bout 2-. After their underwhelming appearances on the previous release, the stage themes for Andy Bogard and Geese Howard receive more impacting remixes here. For the eponymous new characters, the best theme is “Exceed A Limit” for Rick Strowd. It brings some fresh sounds to the score with its passionate guitar and accordion leads, while capturing the exuberant personality of the Las Vegas boxer. Li Xangfei’s “Manly Help for the Female Support” is enjoyable too, but is mostly an inferior imitation of Chun-Li’s theme — gliding melodies, Chinese tonalities, and a poppy arrangement all in line. Similarly disappointing is “Get the Sky -Into Your Dreams-” for secret character Alfred, which could have easily been written for any SNK theme. There are also a range of jingles that suit their in-game purpose and an upbeat ending theme “Over the Mind”, filled with synthpop flavours.
Fatal Fury -Real Bout 2- offers little new, but it is the best version available. The same applies to its soundtrack. Almost all the material here is recycled and the few new additions are largely unmemorable, but they come together to create a somewhat more wholesome product. However, there are several superior soundtracks for the series released during the same era, including Fatal Fury 3 and Fatal Fury: Wild Ambition, therefore it may be better to skip this release unless you’re a hardcore collector.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on August 1, 2012.