Fatal Fury Special
Fatal Fury Special
October 21, 1993
Buy Used Copy
Fatal Fury Special brought the series widespread success in Japanese Arcades and home consoles. It was essentially an enhanced version of Fatal Fury 2, featuring smoother gameplay and an enhanced character roster. Just like the game, the soundtrack supplemented the original with a mixture of new and returning tracks. The album release featured all the tracks from the Arcade version of Fatal Fury Special, most of them originally featured in Fatal Fury 2.
The soundtrack is dominated by character themes carried over from the original Fatal Fury 2. For instance, the themes for the returning heroes of Fatal Fury are faithfully preserved: Terry Bogard’s “Kurikinton” is an imitation of the jazzy Peter Gunn theme, his brother Andy’s “Pasta” is a traditional Italian dance, and Joe Higashi’s “A New Poem…” is filled with Asian instruments and tonalities. Of these, “Pasta” is certainly the most charismatic thanks to its infectious melody and elaborate melody. With each of these tracks, it’s commendable that SNK was able to preserve the essence of each style with their cutting-edge synthesis, though they’re all quite derivative. Terry’s theme is especially grating on repeat, while the synthesis of Joe’s track leaves much to be desired, unchanged from its Fatal Fury 2 version.
“Pangyago Hoho” and “Flame Dragon God” are far superior Asian-inspired compositions than “A New Poem…” Dedicated to idol Mai Shiranui, the latter is especially enjoyable with its alluring melody and mesmerising instruments; the blend of traditional and pop elements is tastefully done to capture the modern day setting, thanks in part to the superior sound board of SNK’s cabinets. SNK’s signature rock sound is also boasted on some other tracks. Kim Kaphwan’s “Let’s Go to Seoul” and Big Bear’s “Tarkun and Kitapy” are decent fighting tracks that capture the kickass nature of the characters. But just like similar tracks from Fatal Fury, these are more about riffs than melodies — in fact, the latter is fittingly an arrangement of Raiden’s theme from the original.
Some of the most enjoyable returning additions are the themes for the boss characters Billy Kane and Axel Hawk. Their heavy rhythms sound very cheesy 20 years on. But in the context of the game, these themes are hard-hitting and sound pretty formidable — the guitar parts in the latter sound especially mean. Just like the character, the theme for the penultimate boss Lawrence Blood is a blatant rip-off of Vega’s theme from Street Fighter II, and an inferior one at that. It still left plenty of room for a great arrangement on the image album, though. In a surprise move, SNK dedicated a reduction of Mozart’s “Dies Irae” for the final boss, Wolfgang Krauser. While fans are split as to whether this was an inspired move or lazy gimmick, the synthesis certainly has nothing on a live performance. It would have been good to have received a new final boss theme for this title…
So what exactly is new on this release? The most significant entries are the themes for the four characters added to Fatal Fury Special. The theme for returning character Duck King, “Duck Dub Dub”, is about as enjoyable as its predecessor; it will be especially enjoyable for fans of old-school ‘pump it up’ techno and works pretty well onscreen. In an inspired move, Tung Fu Rue’s track is an slow remix of his Chinese-styled theme from the original. Boss character Geese Howard’s theme from Fatal Fury also makes a return here; the combination of enhanced synth and a spirited arrangement ensure it is a major improvement on the already enjoyable original. A further Easter Egg is the theme for Art of Fighting‘s Ryo Sakazaki, who is included as a bonus character. Among other exclusives are the brief title call and the ending theme “More Mission”. With its piercing synthlines and hard drum beats, the closer is quite a contrast to the soothing conclusion to the original Fatal Fury 2.
The album release for Fatal Fury Special adds rather than substracts from the Fatal Fury 2 release. Though the soundtrack is a mixed bag, the new tracks make it a much more satisfying listen. The only notable omissions here are the Fatal Fury 2 ending theme and bonus arrangement. All in all, this release will be worthwhile for those that played the most popular version of Fatal Fury. However, those that care for the music for the entire series are better off with the series’ box set instead.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on August 1, 2012.