SummaryA Game of Give and Take...
The GoodArt of Fighting is a very solid fighting game today and for its time. The main thing players will notice about this port of the Neo-Geo arcade unit is the story mode.
Rather than using another boring "Evil World Tournament" angle used for almost any fighting game, players get to focus on a more different story. This story involves the kidnapping of the Ryo Sakazai's sister Yuri Sakazai. In the story mode players can choose between Ryo Sakazai or his best friend Robert Garcia as you go from venue to venue in Southtown searching for her. Each person you defeat will give you information to the next person who may know something, a very solid way to progress a story for the time. This leads up to the final boss, the final win, and the "congratulation's" screen of approval. Between fights in story mode, players get to take part in a choice of several bonus games. Each game will increase the player's attributes upon successful completion and will give you instructions on how to perform a special move.
The soundtrack and background music to the game is particularly great and memorable. Each fight as particularly catchy tune and players will yearn for a CD Soundtrack of the game (the track during Mr. Big's fight is a great song in particular). Every song helps to give each fight a unique feel but it all fits together well enough to make it all feel like one big environment.
The BadAside from a great soundtrack and better than average story, the Art of Fighting is a very basic game. There are very few fighters to choose from, few options to tweak, even fewer environments, and a story that can be completed in the course of an afternoon.
The fighters themselves are nothing special. Aside from Ryu the stereotypical karate good guy man, you have a guy with a wife-beater shirt and head band (Mickey), a bartender (King-- whose a girl, get it?), a dude in camo (John, who comes off as a big fat rip off of Guile from Street Fighters), and a fat guy in a vest (with no shirt, a disgusting sight if I saw one). While this helps the game retain a small semblance of realism, in turn this handicaps this title when compared to the vivid cascade of characters in titles like Street Fighters, Mortal Kombat, and Fatal Fury.
The game's controls are not as good compared to these titles as well. Executing throws is harder than in other titles, along with doing special moves do to the game's poor recognition of your button presses aside from basic moves. Rather than an effective block button, the primary means of defense is jumping back and ricocheting off of walls. The spirit meter seems to have little effect on the game as well, which is a pain due to the fact that the game dedicates an entire button to it as well.
The Bottom LineArt of Fighting is a game of give and take. By giving you a more realistic story mode, it takes away several over the top characters and settings. In exchange for some of the best fighting game songs you will hear on the SNES, you trade in air-tight controls for less than perfect controls instead. While for some these may be too much to give up, others will not mind the trade off and will be satisfied with this title. The question for players when comes to playing this game are what they consider to be important qualities of a good fighting game and what they are willing to over look while playing one.