Feature: How Takara Brought SNKs Arcade Fighters To The Humble Game Boy – Nintendo Life

Samurai Shodowns flag-brandishing referee is still present (and working) even if they have to be squeezed in between health bars at the top of the screen, and although these portable titles were never going to have mid-battle speech samples, Nettou Garou Densetsu 2 (AKA the Game Boy port of Fatal Fury 2) gets around this limitation in the most cute method possible by offering each character little speech bubbles instead. Youll find The King of Fighters Iori squirreled away in Nettou Real Bout Special (the GB version of Real Bout Fatal Fury Special), and Samurai Shodowns protector of nature Nakoruru within the Game Boy port of The King of Fighters 95. Experienced SNK players will discover the very first few fights flying by on muscle memory alone, the Game Boys two-button system doing an exceptional task of standing in for Neo Geos 4 and making special moves, rage gauge charges, taunts and Real Bouts retained ability to shift lanes– something SNK didnt handle to keep in their own handheld port– a breeze. Well, all of them, really– theyre all incredibly loyal to the amazing arcade video games they came from in their own miniaturised methods, and even though some of these are Japanese exclusives, much of the menu and setting text is still in English, and the rest will just take a few jabs of the A button to get through. Theyre good quality portable fighters whether youre familiar with the source or not, making wonderful usage of minimal hardware and fitting the pick-up-and-play nature of the Game Boy like a glove.

© SNK

As soon as youve chosen what to play and who to play through it as (or which group to play through it as in the case of The King of Fighters), the only thing delegated do is dive in and proceed with pounding a video games worth of opposition into submission. Experienced SNK gamers will find the first couple of battles zipping on muscle memory alone, the Game Boys two-button system doing an exceptional job of standing in for Neo Geos 4 and making unique moves, rage gauge charges, taunts and Real Bouts retained capability to shift lanes– something SNK didnt manage to keep in their own handheld port– a breeze. Completion result is consistently fluid gameplay that, similar to the graphics, precisely records the feeling of their arcade equivalents throws, slashes, and fiery punches. Its pick-up-and-play action that, properly enough, always feels like its punching above the modest Game Boys weight.

© SNK

Embellishing these fights are miniaturised handles all victory positions, character pictures, small touches and fantastic full-screen art work youre already familiar with, the designers aware that SNKs game games are brought to life not simply by raw quality but great detail, too. Its just amazing to believe how they had the ability to have Nakorurus devoted hawk Mamahaha and Galfords canine Poppy present on screen at all times, or for a squished-down port of Samurai Shodown III to bring the beauty of the Neo Geos lantern-lit cherry blossom stage to on-the-go gaming at a time when portable colour screens– though available– were a battery-devouring joke.
Inevitably, compromises needed to be made along the way, and some characters were lost in the transition to Nintendos thin grey carts. It is frustrating however on balance it would be unreasonable to expect a Game Boy cartridge– their files sizes so little that theres a really real possibility youve delicately snapped single Switch screenshots that use up more memory area– to consistently recreate every member of every video games cast, particularly when a few of them, such as The King of Fighters 96, have well over twenty different participants in their arcade versions.

© SNK

In between 1994 and 1998 Takara Co., Ltd. brought a few of SNKs most successful Neo Geo arcade hits– Samurai Shodown, The King of Fighters, and Fatal Fury 2– to the modest Game Boy through a series of demakes; structured and simplified releases of the considerably more powerful game originals restored from the ground up exclusively for Nintendos world-conquering portable.
A fast look over some screenshots reveals a strong resemblance to SNKs fantastic Neo Geo Pocket Collection of fighters as both share a preference for clean lines, huge pixels, and cartoonish graphics over a vague stab at crispy game Neo Geo stylings. But these Game Boy titles by-and-large predate SNKs own portable efforts by numerous years and formally consist of one major feature their Neo Geo Pocket neighbours lacked until modern-day emulation stepped in: single-cartridge multiplayer assistance.
You need a Super Game Boy to access it however if youve got one at house, Takaras games not only show quite borders and colourised character pictures, they likewise enable a buddy to play against you utilizing nothing more complex than a second SNES pad.

However how excellent can these ports really be? The Neo Geo was famed for its graphical expertise; theres just no chance battery-powered hardware that might just deal with four tones of green was ever going to come close to the look of the originals. Skillfully, the developers didnt even try and rather wanted to capture the spirit of the video games they were porting instead of intending for a level of precision they might never ever hope to attain– they intended to represent rather than recreate.
Thanks to this unique method whatever from Ukyos cough to Joes Tiger Kick and Ryos distinctive fighting position are still quickly recognisable although their whole bodies are made up of fewer pixels than their game equivalents invested in someones hair (most likely). Samurai Shodowns flag-brandishing referee is still present (and working) even if they need to be squeezed in between health bars at the top of the screen, and although these portable titles were never going to have mid-battle speech samples, Nettou Garou Densetsu 2 (AKA the Game Boy port of Fatal Fury 2) navigates this constraint in the most charming way possible by offering each character little speech bubbles instead. Seeing Terry say “HEY COME ON” as he taunts his opponent is a great deal of enjoyable on the Game Boys small screen, even if it is, strictly-speaking, wrong.

Which ones would we recommend from the ones weve discussed? Well, all of them, truly– theyre all incredibly loyal to the fantastic game video games they came from in their own miniaturised methods, and despite the fact that a few of these are Japanese exclusives, much of the menu and setting text is still in English, and the rest will just take a few jabs of the A button to get through. Most significantly of all, theyre various sufficient to be worth a look even if youve already long tired the Switchs remarkable variety of arcade and pocket-sized Neo Geo titles. Theyre good quality portable fighters whether youre familiar with the source or not, making great use of minimal hardware and fitting the pick-up-and-play nature of the Game Boy like a glove.

The rosters have actually been cut down, the characters available are not likely to leave anybody sensation short-changed, offering anything up to fifteen fighters by default and a few unlockable perk deals with too, from great old playable managers to unanticipated crossover characters from other games. Youll discover The King of Fighters Iori squirreled away in Nettou Real Bout Special (the GB variation of Real Bout Fatal Fury Special), and Samurai Shodowns protector of nature Nakoruru within the Game Boy port of The King of Fighters 95. Their presence may not totally make up for what was lost in translation, however theres still a particular specialness around playing as someone you feel you were never ever expected to have at all– a true additional rather than simply one more individual pulled from a box-ticking list of expected features.

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