I’ve been on a massive Neo Geo kick lately. The old SNK Neo Geo fighting games were always so advanced for their time, with such high fidelity pixel graphics, they feel almost timeless, while simultaneously being a product of their time. I had my doubts about the Neo Geo Pocket and its lineup of fighting games, but ever since they’ve been slowly trickling onto the Nintendo Switch, I’ve found a new love for them. And as it turns out, Fatal Fury: First Contact is another great addition to the expanding Neo Geo Pocket lineup on Nintendo Switch.
Fatal Fury: First Contact was a surprise release right before Christmas, and is the fifth Neo Geo Pocket Color release for Nintendo Switch. Fatal Fury is one of the most iconic fighting series from SNK, and most of that famous fighting action translates well to the Neo Geo Pocket Color iteration– surprisingly well, in fact, especially considering the age of the original hardware that Fatal Fury: First Contact was running on. The Neo Geo Pocket Mini was impressive for its time, but ancient technology by now. But SNK managed to squeeze a great fighter into that tiny handheld, with pretty impressive results.
Fatal Fury: First Contact is a good fighting game, and despite initial appearances, is solidly fun to play. It’s hard not to enjoy SNK’s fighting games, and Fatal Fury: First Contact is another stellar example. I personally always thought the Fatal Fury roster was always a bit boring, but Fatal Fury: First Contact doesn’t lack interesting characters to play, with eleven characters, plus an unlockable character. The action is great, and rivals some modern fighting games I’ve played. The move sets are limited compared to Fatal Fury’s non-pocket versions, and the animations are a little limited—but the hitboxes feel solid, and the controls are responsive. Too bad you can’t get a clicky joystick to emulate that true SNK fighter feel.
If I do have some complaints, it’s the visuals. I don’t mind that SNK tried to make everything Chibi-like to go along with the form factor, but many characters on the roster lost a lot of their defining characteristics in the transition to their Pocket Color variants. I’m really not a huge fan of the character models in Fatal Fury: First Contact especially, with most characters looking bland and colored with mostly a single color. This is in line with SNK’s other Pocket Color releases, but Fatal Fury: First Contact’s already lackluster roster suffers with similarly lackluster visuals.
The Nintendo Switch release of this Neo Geo Pocket Color game comes with a few ways to tweak visuals. In its default state, especially in handheld mode, you can almost get an authentic Neo Geo Pocket Color experience. The Switch displays not only the game, but the device as well. You can choose the version of the Neo Geo Pocket Color you want—or zoom in to get less immersion, and more game. There is also an option to remove the block-pixelated screen effect, but I feel like it loses some of its charm without it. You can even play two player mode on the same console, something not possible without two Pocket Color handheld consoles in the past. Also included is the ability to rewind the last few seconds of gameplay,
Fatal Fury: First Contact is probably not going to be SNK’s last Neo Geo Pocket Color release. With Neo Geo Pocket Color systems harder to find, having the ability to play some of the best handheld fighting games of yesteryear is always a welcome thing. Fatal Fury: First Contact stays true to SNK’s form of great fighting releases, so you can’t go wrong there. SNK’s inclusion of different Pocket Color visualizations adds a great sense of immersion, and even lends a bit of historical authenticity. If you’ve ever been curious about the Neo Geo Pocket Color and its games, Fatal Fury: First Contact or the other four Pocket Color SNK releases are a great way to check it out.
Fatal Fury: First Contact is available now on Nintendo Switch
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