Fatal Fury: First contact

Release: May 27, 1999 | Size: 16megs 

Author: M.E. Williams

Fatal Fury: First Contact follows the Pocket Fighting Series tradition of being a scaled down port of the prior year's flagship AES or Hyper 64 title. As a port of Real Bout 2, First Contact caries over many of the features of the AES game, while also having a unique flair that is all its own. 

Fatal Fury: First Contact is a port of the prior year's MVS hit Real Bout Fatal Fury 2: The New Comers. Developed by Yumekobo (of Blazing Star fame), this portable Fatal Fury is the only game in SNK's flagship series to see release on the Neo Pocket. It was also one of the first Pocket Color games.

Whereas some games in the Pocket Fighting series added in comedic elements and other fun changes from their larger arcade counterparts, First Contact plays it safe and sticks to the Fatal Fury formula pretty closely. Due to hardware limitations, First Contact does not include the series staple line-sway mechanic, but the chain combo system that was made popular in the Real Bout series transfers over somewhat in tact. 

For a 16 meg title, there is a decently sized roster with 11 immediately selectable characters and two secret characters. One of the secret characters, Lao, was only featured in this game. The main cast is comprised of the most popular characters from the Fatal Fury series. So while personal favorites like Sokaku and Hon Fu are missing, the cast is well rounded and even includes the two new characters from Real Bout 2: Rick Strowd and Xiangfei. Actually, aside from Real Bout 2, this is the only other game that includes Rick - which is a shame. Not only are Native American characters under-represented in fighting games, he has a lot of interesting mechanics that were refreshing at the time. 

Like most fighting games on the Neo Pocket, the buttons are pressure sensitive which allows for three types of normal attacks: A is punch, B is kick, and hold down either button for a heavy attack. Like the Real Bout games, the heavy attack could be punch or kick depending on the character's move set. Outside of line-sway attacks that were omitted from the game, most character moves sets remain in tact. Although, some moves have been simplified and command normals either work differently or were removed entirely. For example: Terry's Power Dunk in Real Bout 2 is performed by combining two command normals rather than a controller motion like in prior games. Because command normals were mostly removed from the game, Terry does not have access to that move.

First Contact looks great like all the Pocket Fighting series games. There is a good amount of detail in the backgrounds, and the character sprites have a generous amount of animation that really bring them to life. Music is a decent recreation of the excellent soundtrack from Real Bout 2. While you won't be listening to these bleeps and bloops outside of the game, they will service your play session well enough.

Fatal Fury: First Contact is a great traditional fighter on the Neo Pocket. Its fast pace, great graphics, and decent approximation of Real Bout 2's gameplay is a real treat. I would still recommend King of Fighters R-2 above this if you're looking for something a bit more solid, but with loose carts being so cheap First Contact is definitely a must buy for any fan of the Garou series.

The game is pretty cheap in the modern retro market if you don't mind having a bare cartridge. You can snag a copy for as little as $20. A European or Japanese Snaplock case version will run you a little over $100 if you want to pay a premium, though.