Underrated, But Not Forgotten

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I wanted to take a bit of your time to introduce myself. If you visited the various gaming sites out there you’ve probably seen some of my comments, but most of the Bitbag audience probably knows me from my random comments during the chat that takes place as the Warzone is being recorded. For the most part I play fighting games and do more than my fair share of retro gaming. For my first post I thought I would talk about SNK/NEO GEO since KOFXII is coming out soon.

Let’s be honest here for minute, the majority of SNK games of years past are generic to say the least and at best are poor imitations of some of Capcom’s most revered titles. The list of crap games published by SNK is so extensive it would be a waste to spend time mentioning them 1 by 1. Here’s another bit of truth I am a Capcom fan so much so, that my friends call me Mr. Capcom. In my younger days I viewed SNK as the competition and the enemy. Fanboy-ism to the point where you refuse to play games made by a certain company is the worst characteristic a gamer can have. If not for my brother and my desire to be better than him in every game possible I wouldn’t have given SNK a chance. Ultimately, I would have missed out on some of my favorite games.

The first SNK game my brother and I really got into was Fatal Fury. After that it was on to Art of Fighting and Samurai Showdown. I’m sure a lot of you are familiar with these titles. Fatal Fury and Art of Fighting haven’t aged well at all, but Samurai Showdown II-V still kick ass. You might be asking yourself ‘what is the point of all of this?’ Well, even though SNK had more than it’s share of bad games it also had some of the best underrated games in my opinion. Some of them might not even fall under the underrated category, but under ‘never heard of that one’ to some. That my friends is disappointing. So I’ve taken it upon myself to share with you 4 of my favorite obscure SNK games of all time.

First up is Ganryu and it isn’t even really a SNK game. It was developed by Visco and released on NEOGEO. Some have picked apart this game piece by piece, but for me it’s a really fun, challenging and enjoyable game.

There are 2 playable characters with essentially the same move sets, but I think Musashi’s chain attack reaches farther than Suzume’s.

Ganryu_002 Musashi Ganryu_003 Suzume Ganryu_004 Ganryu_005

Next we have Garou Mark of the Wolves. I remember the first day I played this game. A friend came over with an import copy for Dreamcast modified to play on US consoles, but then again he was always showing up with Japanese games in the hope that I would buy them off of him. As I mentioned before Fatal Fury didn’t age well, but Garou is the exception. It’s hands down the best Fatal Fury in the entire series. I remember finally realizing that Rock Howard was Geese’s son who’d been raised by Terry Bogard. I’m sure most people only know Rock from Capcom vs SNK 2, but he got his start in Mark of the Wolves.

Garou MOTW_001
One of my favorite characters is Khushnood Butt. Who names these guys? Seriously. What’s so funny is he sounds just like Ryo Sakazaki.

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The 3rd game on our list is Ninja Master’s. That punctuation error is actually in the official title of the game. Everyone should know that SNK games are pretty much generic copies of the SFII formula of controls. Ninja Master’s is no different, but this time around SNK didn’t bother trying to mask any of it. Sasuke for example throws shurikens (Hado-boom; executed like a fireball, but resembles a sonic boom), has a spinning kick (hurricane kick) and uppercut (shoryuken). That aside Ninja Master’s is really good. Not only can you fight hand to hand, but you can bust out weapons at any point in the match. If you dizzy your opponent while they’re wielding a weapon they lose there weapon. So basically you get to slice and dice while they have only their hands to defend themselves with. Weapons not only do more damage, but give you a new move set and enhances your special techniques. Sasuke’s ‘dragon punch’ shifts from just 2 hits to 8 upward slashes. For those who are curious, yes there is blood.

Ninja Masters_001
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Finally we have The Last Blade 2. This was another import game I got for Dreamcast by way of my friend who shall remain nameless. The Last Blade 2 did eventually see a US release date. The Last Blade 2 is pretty much the unofficial successor to the Samurai Showdown franchise. Personally I find it to be a deeper fighter than Samurai Showdown.

The Last Blade 2_001
Fighting game fans will recognize Hibiki from Capcom vs Snk 2. She was a character I was really drawn to much like v-13 in Arc System Works’ BlazBlue. Speaking of ASW, the original Last Blade is also the first game that Daisuke Ishiwatari worked on.  Hibiki plays so much better in CvS2.

The Last Blade 2_002 The Last Blade 2_003 The Last Blade 2_004 The Last Blade 2_005

And there you have it 4 of my favorite SNK games. It just wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t mention what my favorite SNK frachises/games are. So without further adieu they are Ganryu, KOF, Metal Slug, Samurai Showdown, Ninja Master’s, The Last Blade and SVC Chaos: SNK vs Capcom.

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