Fatal Fury: First Contact Review – A big punch, but a small package

Fatal Fury: First Contact is no stranger to the fighting arena as a Neo Geo release. However, in modern times, age does begin to show behind the veil of nostalgia. The greater question is, can the Neo Geo port entertain fans of the famed fighting series or is it one that should have remained in the past?

+Perfect for a pick-up-and-put-down title when you need a quick time burner
+Easily accessible and easy to learn
+Easy to play when it comes to competitive matches

-Very few modes to play
-Characters feel almost exactly the same minus a few moves
-No real addition to features such as museum or the likes

Let’s be real, the Neo Geo Pocket Color Selection list has gotten absolutely tremendous thanks to the fact that SNK’s games are still making their way over alongside various other titles. It’s like riding on the TARDIS or Bill and Ted’s phone booth and going through time, but without an exact idea where we are going, or really, where we will land for that matter.

Now, let me be clear: I don’t have a problem with this. I’ve been a massive fan of the collections being released. I’ve snagged a few myself including the Aladdin and Lion King bundle and even Capcom’s overwhelmingly, but astonishingly large, a library of Mega Man offerings over the past few years. I’ve even rallied for the idea of getting more titles including a full-blown collection of Nintendo classics that include the likes of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!, Wrath of the Black Manta, G.I. Joe, Batman, and Deadly Towers.I’m a retro game, to be honest, and now, I’m going deeper down the rabbit hole than before.

This time, with another Neo Geo Pocket Color title under the name of Fatal Fury: First Contact, a title that I’d somehow managed to miss as a kid. It’s a shame too.

First Contact is a game that shows off its age, but somehow still manages to charm

When it comes to games being almost two decades old – man, I feel old – it’s hard not to acknowledge that many of these games are exact ports of their former selves. It also comes to show that many of these games also do show their age and sometimes, that’s not the best, as The Last Blade was one I was disappointed that I skipped growing up.

Those wanting modern takes on the Switch, well, they’re there, which brings this part of the discussion to the table. First Contact is one of those games, much like The Last Blade, that doesn’t have a lot to show off. It’s a title that is a simple pick-up-and-go title where you are stuck with same-couch one or two-player battles. Much like those throwback Street Fighter titles if you will.

The charm is that the game does its best to pick thirteen of the twenty-two established fighters from Fatal Fury 2: The New Comers, which if you’ve had a chance to play it, you know about where this is going. Famed characters such as Li Xiangfei, Rick Strowd, Mai Shiranui, and Terry Bogard all make their return. Each fighter is uniquely designed in its pixel art forms, giving fans something to relish when they pop up on the screen.

Trust me when I say this: You won’t be missing out on much with the ousted nine characters. Just remember, the hardware this game was designed for was much less powerful than its console brethren.

A two-button fighter from a past almost forgotten

Now, fighting in this game is pretty simple. Just like The Last Blade, you’ll find that two buttons are about all you need to use. After all, that’s all the Neo Geo Pocket and the Game Boy Color really had to offer as they stood tall in the handheld market at their time.

All characters do somehow feel different than one another once you begin digging deep into the game. Each bold sprite bursts to life with personality, uniqueness, and their own approach to combat. Some benefit more from quick attacks, utilizing the classic “down, back, punch” trope that unleashes a blaze of fire from their fist or feet.

Others take pride in the fact that their exaggerated size of fists and feet are great for quick attacks, pummeling your opponent with a few good kicks and punches before unleashing a rather quick special and heading back to your safe zone. It’s an ebb and flow that, for what it is, is fun. It’s a title that does just what you would hope it would do as one that’s a great time burner in its own right.

Attacks are simple in the sense you’ll tap for a light attack or hold the button slightly longer for a heavy attack. Other executions such as taunting can be down by pressing the “+” button and back or forward on the d-pad. It’s quite amusing to see such a little feature survived even a port.

Unfortunately, even as a port, some amazing bonus features are there, but not many

Just like any great port, it’s important to have a decent amount of bonus features. With Mega Man, we got borders, we got a plethora of things such as animated shorts, museums, etc, which isn’t the case with Fatal Fury: First Contact. Many of those features are absent outside of being able to change your border trim, screen zoom adjustment, and the ability to rewind the gameplay.

Just remember, if you play in portable/tablet mode, you can even use the touch screen version of the Neo Geo Pocket to play the game using the virtual joystick and the buttons. The downside, it’s a fingerprint nightmare on your screen if you are as protective of a clean screen as I am. If not, just enjoy the use of a Joy-Con or a Switch controller of some form.

There’s even an instruction manual you can use to learn each character’s special moves and combat traits. It’s a nice little feat to have, but, again, why not add just a few small features to REALLY make the game stand out? There are a few other options that do this and within the same price range as well. There’s even fighting titles out there that cast a massive shadow on what is trying to be accomplished here.

The Conclusion

Now, with how true of a port this is, I can’t fault anyone for the lack of features. It’s a game that is painstakingly accurate to its former self on the Neo Geo and as a part of the Arcade Archives series, but, it still leaves us craving something more, something bit a much bigger hit than what it had to offer. Damn shame too, but, if you are like me and you find it great for commitment-free time-burning scuffles, it’s a great game to have.

Fatal Fury: First Contact
 Nintendo Switch
Version Reviewed: Nintendo Switch
Developer: SNK
Publisher: SNK
Release Date: Available Now
Cost: $7.99

My only wish for games like this? Give us something extra, even if it’s something small, such as things like a museum, a library, or even a portfolio of each fighter in the menu without having to navigate through the classic instruction manual the game had when it released. Small things like that are amazing and go a long way. Regardless, if you are a retro fan, it is worth having and it’s absolutely true to its former self.

Our review is based upon a retail version of the game provided to us by the publisher for the review. For information about our ethics policy please click here.

About the Writer(s):


Dustin is our native video game reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook today.

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