Fatal Fury -Mark of the Wolves-
Fatal Fury Mark of the Wolves
Scitron Digital Contnets
January 21, 2000
Buy Used Copy
1999’s Fatal Fury: Mark of the Wolves (aka Garou: Mark of the Wolves) was the final instalment of SNK’s first fighting series. While most games in the series have shared a similar character roster, Mark of the Wolves breathed new life into the series with its all-new lineup. In this regard, it was often compared with Capcom’s Street Fighter III trilogy released around the same time. The Neo Geo Music Performance Group composed a brand new score to match the new characters, but largely preserved the series’ sound in the process.
While Mark of the Wolves featured mostly new characters, a couple of familiar faces make a welcome return. With “Sunrise on the Train”, Terry Bogard takes centre stage one last time. This track is technically a new composition, though it stays close to earlier portrayals of the character — the saxophone leads match his exuberant image, while the guitar riffs capture his fighting spirit. Melodically, it isn’t quite as memorable as his themes on Fatal Fury: Wild Ambition or Fatal Fury 3. What’s more, the synth leaves quite a bit to be desired in the arcade version and only the arranged console version of the track really brought the sound team’s ideas to life. This is true for much of the soundtrack, but sadly no album release featuring these arranged versions was ever made.
But it’s really Rock Howard, son of the late Geese, that headlines the game and hence the soundtrack. “Spread the Wings” maintains the hard rock influence of his father’s tracks, but offers a much more warm and upbeat melody. But in SNK’s most obvious case of copyright infringement, the melody is almost identical to that of Robert Miles’ “Children”. Talking of family resemblances, the sons of Kim Kaphwan’s make an appearance on Mark of the Wolves. Their themes preserve the classic rock influence of their father’s tracks, while distinguishing the characters of the siblings — Kim Jae Hoon’s “Too Honest” sounding more calm and metred than his brother’s free-spirited “Loose Genius”. Another theme with obvious inspirations is “Bad Girl?”, which shares the big band stylings and Mancini-esque melodies of Fatal Fury 2‘s “Kurikinton”.
Among the satisfying additions to the soundtrack are those that explore more worldly colours. Hotaru Futaba’s “Fullmoon – Heartful” and Hokutomaru’s “Ninja? Or Monkey” provide youthful twists on traditional Japanese stylings. The latter is especially likeable — with its forever hummable melody and soothing chiptune synthesis. Further Japanese tonalities and instruments are incorporated into Gato’s theme; but in contrast to other playable characters, his theme is filled with malice and mystery. The roster is rounded off with Marco Rodriguez’s percussively driven “From Brazil”, Kevin Rian’s infectious funk-based “Wilderness Policeman”, and Tizoc’s wrestling anthem “The Invincible Mask”. While none of these push any boundaries, they bring diversity to the soundtrack and in-game experience.
While Mark of the Wolves‘ antagonists were pretty clichéd, their portrayals are among the highlights of the soundtrack. “Destruction Maniac” is provides a suitably formidable accompaniment to the mid-boss encounters with Grant, combining gothic chorals with heavy metal riffs. Revisiting ideas from Fatal Fury 3, the final boss Kain R. Heinlein is enhanced with a dark, mysterious orchestration that reflects SNK’s maturity. The remaining tracks mostly comprise of the typical cues and jingles used in Fatal Fury games, ranging from the ominous title call to jazzy ending theme, all of which serve their place in context. Nevertheless, the arrangements of the leitmotif “Flash of Darkness” provide a fateful undercurrent throughout and build well into the final boss encounter.
While Fatal Fury: Mark of the Wolves was a reboot of the series, its soundtrack isn’t particularly different from its predecessors. The themes are technically new, but often retread familiar styles or imitate precursors. What’s more, the arcade synth sounds very dated for 1999 — the resynthed score for the console version is far superior, but has never been released in album form. Despite offering few innovations, SNK’s sound team still kept their fans happy by staying faithful to their classic sound here. Fatal Fury enthusiasts should enjoy this one, although newcomers to the series are better checking out the scores to Real Bout: Fatal Fury or Fatal Fury: Wild Ambition first.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on August 1, 2012.