De­vel­oper/pub­lisher SNK For­mat FM Towns, Game Gear, Neo Geo, PC Engine, Sega CD, SNES, X68000 Re­lease 1993

De­vel­oper/pub­lisher SNK For­mat FM Towns, Game Gear, Neo Geo, PC Engine, Sega CD, SNES, X68000 Re­lease 1993

The first thing I had to do af­ter I joined SNK was to take part in a new-staffmem­ber train­ing pro­gramme. This had noth­ing to do with the work I’d be do­ing. It cov­ered things like how to an­swer the tele­phone, or how to pro­fes­sion­ally present your busi­ness card to peo­ple. It was a three-day course, but I only man­aged to get through the first. I stayed at home play­ing games the sec­ond two days.

At the time I couldn’t af­ford a Neo Geo home sys­tem; it was too ex­pen­sive for any stu­dent. But SNK of­fered staff dis­counts, so with my first pay­check I bought one.

Fa­tal Fury Spe­cial was the first game that I worked on. The project was al­ready in de­vel­op­ment at the com­pany when I ar­rived. It was one of two fight­ing games in de­vel­op­ment at the time, the other be­ing Art Of Fight­ing. The two series may look sim­i­lar but they have quite dif­fer­ent sen­si­bil­i­ties, which you can see if you look at the way in which they’re an­i­mated. There is a pop­u­lar manga in Ja­pan called Sho­nen Jump. The way the char­ac­ters move in Fa­tal Fury was sim­i­lar to the pan­els in that comic. Art Of Fight­ing, by con­trast, was more sim­i­lar to Fist Of The North Star. I was very happy to be as­signed to Fa­tal

Fury but the work was ex­tremely hard. I

would only go home once a week, on a Sun­day morn­ing, and then I’d be back at work by Sun­day af­ter­noon. Of­ten I would only sleep four hours a night. You can work like this when you’re a young per­son, but look­ing back on it to­day I can’t be­lieve it. The base salary was poor, but at least I got bonuses. At that time there weren’t re­ally strict rules on how these were handed out, so it of­ten felt like we were at the mercy of our boss’ mood. Since I was ba­si­cally liv­ing at the of­fice for the en­tire year I rarely had a chance to even put that money to use.

My first role was game bal­anc­ing and de­bug­ging. I worked on this for around four months. I would play the game over and over again, hun­dreds of times a day, tweak­ing dam­age val­ues, the speed at which the an­i­ma­tion frames would trig­ger, and the size and po­si­tion of the hit­boxes.

Fa­tal Fury Spe­cial was a ma­jor suc­cess for SNK. I think this came down to the fact that it was a lively game, the an­i­ma­tions were cool and you could chain com­bos to­gether. All this con­trib­uted to its suc­cess.

Now, some peo­ple say that the dif­fi­culty of the bosses in SNK games isn’t very well bal­anced, and of course this was ab­so­lutely in­ten­tional. If some­one has played through a game at the ar­cade to reach the fi­nal boss, they are more likely to pay ex­tra cred­its in or­der to see how the story ends, and make it to the cred­its. The dif­fi­culty of those bosses is a de­sign driven by eco­nomics as much as any­thing.

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