Fatal Fury: City of the Wolves gives Street Fighter 6 a run for its money

Tizoc pointing his finger during his intro in Fatal Fury City of the Wolves.
SNK

The past half-decade in the fighting game genre has been spent bringing back classic series and freshening them up for a new age. Street Fighter 6’s drive gauge and modern controls, Mortal Kombat 1 and its introduction of assist attacks, Tekken 8‘s Heat system, and more have shown that even older franchises in this genre aren’t afraid of reinventing the wheel. SNK also demonstrated a willingness to do this with the latest entries in the Samurai Shodown and The King of Fighters series, but after my time with Fatal Fury: City of the Wolves and its new REV system, I don’t think any of the company’s other new games hold a candle to the formula reimagining this long format IP is getting next year.

Fatal Fury is one of the original series featured in SNK’s crossover series The King of Fighters. After its debut in arcades in 1991, Fatal Fury would go on to receive 10 sequels, including those of its sub-series Real Bout and the last of its entries until now, 1999’s Garou: Mark of the Wolves. Fatal Fury: City of the Wolves picks up where Garou left off, reuniting us with characters like Terry Bogard, Rock Howard, Tizoc, and Hotaru, as well as Preecha, a newcomer and student of Joe Higashi.

This mix of old and new faces in the roster reflects that this title is full of familiarity to bring older players back while still introducing a lot of great new flavors to a classic format. As soon as I jumped into Fatal Fury: City of the Wolves, I found myself falling in love with the feel of the game more than I have with any recent 2D fighter of the era. The game feels so smooth that going from attacking to using the momentum-based movement felt like cutting through butter with a hot knife.

REV system in action in Fatal Fury: City of the Wolves
SNK

The new main mechanic for the title, REV actions, really complements the feel of the game. This is SNK’s new take on the special or EX attack meters commonly seen in fighting games. At the start of the match, you’re given free rein to go crazy with this meter. You can do EX-special attacks, combo EX-special attacks into other EX-specials, a blowback attack to escape enemy offense, and use REV Guard to push opponents back while blocking.

All of this comes with a big risk-reward gamble, which I love. Like Street Fighter 6’s Drive Gauge, you start with an empty REV meter, and as you use REV actions, your meter will fill up. This isn’t a bar you want to reach max, though. If you reach 100% on this meter, it will overheat, and you’ll lose access to all REV actions. This opens up your guard bar to being crushed by your opponent. To rebuild this meter, you can land attacks, move toward your opponent, land a Just Defend by blocking an attack at the last second, or just wait it out.

A fight in Fatal Fury: City of the Wolves.
SNK

Another defining mechanic coming to the game is SPG, or Selective Potential Gear. When selecting a character, you get to choose whether to place your SPG in the beginning, middle, or end of your life bar. Once your life bar hits that certain range, you get a health regen buff, stronger attacks, and more potent Super and REV meter rebuilding. This adds a bit more personality and strategy to what’s already there when selecting a character.

It feels as if Fatal Fury: City of the Wolves is borrowing from other fighters like Street Fighter 6 and the Guilty Gear series and meshing it all perfectly into its formula. The key word there for me is perfect because these systems all agree so well with one another, along with the overall feel of the game. Unlike Street Fighter 6, which feels to me like multiple game mechanics brought together in somewhat of a hodgepodge manner, my early taste of this title simply fit together its workings like a pretty puzzle.

A fight in Fatal Fury: City of the Wolves.
SNK

Fatal Fury: City of the Wolves is a very promising addition to the new era of fighting games. I went into this preview expecting a competent sequel to Garou. What I got is a very good sequel to the original Garou that may even surpass Street Fighter 6 when it comes to gameplay.

Fatal Fury: City of the Wolves is in development and will be released sometime in early 2025.

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