Fatal Fury: First Contact
Platform: Nintendo Switch, NeoGeo Pocket
Age Rating: 7
Release Date: 23/12/20
A code was provided for review purposes.
Fatal Fury: First Contact is the latest Neo Geo Pocket Colour title to be ported onto the Nintendo Switch. The pocket fighter originally debuted way back in 1999 and was released onto the SNK produced console – the Neo Geo Pocket Colour.
As more and more SNK titles find their way on to the Nintendo Switch, does Fatal Fury: First Contact continue their retro legacy or should it have been left in the past?
Known as Garou Densetsu: First Contact in Japan, Fatal Fury: First Contact is based on the Arcade and Neo Geo title – Real Bout Fatal Fury 2. The Nintendo Switch version of Fatal Fury: First Contact isn’t a fancy remake or (technically) a remaster. What it is, is a fully functioning port of the original game.
The pint-sized fighter features all the same bells and whistles as it did back in 1999. You only have two modes to select from; 1-player and 2-player. Selecting either mode then takes you to the character select screen. We have eleven characters to choose from who are all familiar faces to the Fatal Fury and King of Fighters series. Franchise stalwarts such as Terry and Andy Bogard, Mai Shiranui, and my personal favourite – Geese Howard all make their appearances. There’s also a secret character called Lao, who’s only accessible in the 2-player mode. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, but if you’re a fan of SNK fighters then it’s not really a suprise. Rounding off the roster is also another secret character who becomes unlocked once a certain number of fights has passed.
Upon selecting our fighter we then get to choose our first opponent. Of course fighting games do get harder as you progress through the roster. Choosing a strong character to fight first may seem like cheating but, it’s a great strategy if there’s someone you struggle against.
Each match is fairly straight forward and consists of a best of three format. This style of gameplay continues until you’ve beaten everyone then its back to the start to try again as someone else. As I mentioned before there isn’t a story mode as such so you do need to be a fan of the franchise to have an understanding as to whats going on. If in doubt pick Terry Bogard if you’re rooting for the “good guys” and Geese Howard if not.
Each character features a variety of special moves and combos at their disposal. Unfortunately the game doesn’t take advantage of the extra buttons that the Switch offers, and instead maps every attack to the A and B buttons. Why? Well the Neo Geo Pocket Colour only had two buttons and a D-pad and this is a port of that game.
The 2-button control scheme however does work incredibly well. Taping the buttons allows you to preform basic attacks, with longer presses giving you access to harder moves. It takes a bit of getting used to, but by the third fight I was pulling off combos and special moves like it was second nature. These moves are incredibly responsive and there’s no input lag.
Considering the game is (at the time of writing) 20-years old, the graphics have aged considerably well. The animation is fast and fluid and its extremely easy to forget that your playing a game made for a 20-year old handheld. Each stage is filled with vibrant colours which work to bring each fight to life. Whilst the characters are “chibi” versions of their usual selves, each is still highly recognisable and of high quality.
Graphics do suffer from some slight over-stretching when being played in docked mode on a large screen. For example, I wouldn’t recommend playing it on a 55″ screen. However, on a smaller average size screen, it’s perfectly presentable. The game was originally designed for a small screen and as such, it works perfectly with the Switch being in handheld mode, to an extent it enhances the game – and serves as a faithful recreation of a Neo Geo Pocket Colour console too!
Coming away from the gameplay Fatal Fury: First Contact, there is a zoom option as well as a digital manual included. It’s nice to be able to take a trip down memory lane with looking at the manual and it also shows you each character’s move list. Much like the other Neo Geo Pocket games on the Switch, you’re also able to change the style of the Neo Geo shell that borders the screen. It works as a nice reminder of how far gaming has come. It’s worth noting too that if playing docked to a plasma device these borders can leave a small amount of screen retention – as I found out when connected to my living room television.
Fatal Fury: First Contact is a nice compact fighter. Coming in at a whopping 147MB, it’s hardly going to break your storage space. Whilst the original may not be “the best” fighter on the Neo Geo Pocket Colour, it’s still a fun game to play. With a unique control scheme which is both incredibly fluid and very accessible, there’s a lot of fun to be had. Whilst newcomers to the Fatal Fury/King of Fighters may not get the most out of what Fatal Fury: First Contact has to offer. Long time fans are in for a retro-filled trip down memory lane.
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can purchase Fatal Fury: First Contact via the Nintendo eShop by clicking here
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.