Fatal Fury: City of the Wolves Is the Modern SNK Fighting Game You’ve Been Waiting For

Exclusive: The devs at SNK walk us through their modern take on the beloved Fatal Fury series.

Throughout the ‘90s, SNK was one of the kings of the fighting game genre, with the company developing and publishing classics like Fatal Fury, Art of Fighting, and The King of Fighters. Now that the publisher has successfully revived the Samurai Shodown and King of Fighters franchises for a new generation of fans, SNK is set to unleash the epic return of Fatal Fury with City of the Wolves, the first entry in the series in 26 years when it finally hits shelves next year.

Set to launch in 2025, City of the Wolves is the sequel to 1999’s Fatal Fury: Mark of the Wolves, which released back in the Neo Geo and Sega Dreamcast days, if you want to feel old. The new game continues the saga of Rock Howard and Terry Bogard, as they face familiar opponents and formidable newcomers in no-holds barred fights.

In an interview with Den of Geek at Summer Game Fest 2024, Fatal Fury: City of the Wolves chief producer Yasuyuki Oda and art supervisor Nobuyuki Kuroki explain Fatal Fury’s place in the pantheon of great fighting games, share how they worked to make City of the Wolves accessible to longtime fans and new players alike, and tease some of the new features and playable characters in Fatal Fury’s eagerly anticipated return.

Returning to the World of Fatal Fury

While a sequel to Mark of the Wolves had previously been in various stages of development for decades, Fatal Fury: City of the Wolves is largely built from the ground up as its own project, appealing to modern fighting game sensibilities and taking advantage of modern technical capabilities. For Oda, who has been working with SNK since 1993’s Fatal Fury Special and was a planner on Mark of the Wolves, it is important that City of the Wolves retains the spirit of the original plans for Mark of the Wolves sequel He feels that City of the Wolves accomplishes this goal.

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“We had to restart things for a lot of different reasons, but we were still looking back at the stuff we wanted to do back then for the Mark of the Wolves sequel,” Oda explains. “We did as much as we could to take some of those ideas, but also arrange them and match them with modern trends. In the end, I think we were able to do all the things that we wanted to do with the original game.”

More than just reviving the Fatal Fury name for a new generation, City of the Wolves lets the developers finally continue the stories of the fan-favorite characters in Mark of the Wolves, especially the ones that ended noticeably unresolved, such as Rock’s. Decades later, Oda was able to deliver a satisfying conclusion to Rock’s arc from Mark of the Wolves.

“Especially with Mark of the Wolves, a lot of people were left on a cliffhanger for Rock’s story, it was a completely open cliffhanger,” Oda recalls. “To be able to go in and finish that story was especially pleasing for me.”

Creating a Balance for Veterans and Newcomers

Going on hands-on with a work-in-progress demo of Fatal Fury: City of the Wolves, the gameplay feels like a natural evolution of the mechanics from Mark of the Wolves rather than a transposition of the gameplay from 2022’s King of Fighters XV. The Just Defense and Gear mechanics from Mark of the Wolves have been retained and deepened for City of the Wolves, with the latter empowering special attacks and increased damage output. City of the Wolves adds the Rev System, a new mechanic that enhances special moves, guards, and combos. More than just expanding on the gameplay, the Rev System was developed to visually reward players for pulling off cool moves.

“From a visual standpoint, with the Rev System, one thing that we wanted to make sure of was that it was easy for new players to jump in and do some cool, appealing, and exciting-looking combos,” Kuroki says. “Stuff like the blue silhouette that you leave behind is there to give a direct sense of accomplishment when you pull off these cool feats in the game.”

Many fighters from Mark of the Wolves return as playable characters in the City of the Wolves, while a number of classic Fatal Fury characters absent from the 1999 game make their return for the sequel, including Joe Higashi and Billy Kane. City of the Wolves also introduces several brand-new characters, including Preecha and Vox Reaper, both of whom were playable and popular among attendees at SGF 2024. The expansion of the roster with new characters not only helps the Fatal Fury brand grow but serves as a bridge for new generations of players into the wider franchise.

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“One of the goals for this game is to get as many new people to play the IP as possible, so making new characters was a must,” Kuroki explains. “One thing we tried to do with these two new characters, in particular, was make sure some of our younger staff, who also might not know that much about Fatal Fury compared to the veterans, had as many opinions as possible. They really helped guide the direction of these new characters in development.”

Reviving the Fatal Fury Legend

While Fatal Fury hasn’t seen a new game in over two decades, SNK and the Fatal Fury brand have had a continued presence with gamers in the interim, both through SNK games like King of Fighters and crossovers with third-party games, like Terry Bogard’s memorable playable appearances in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and the newly announced Street Fighter 6 Year 2 Character Pass, which also features fan-favorite Fatal Fury character Mai Shiranui. Though Oda appreciates these appearances introducing Fatal Fury to younger and wider audiences, he relishes the opportunity to bring these players fully into the world of Fatal Fury with City of the Wolves.

“Terry has been guest-starring in a lot of different games,” Oda points out. “Being able to play him in those games is great, but being able to come and play him in his original IP is something that I think everybody should try to experience.”

As SNK prepares to launch Fatal Fury: City of the Wolves, the future looks bright for the beloved company and its biggest fighting game properties. Fatal Fury is about to be completely reinvigorated for modern audiences, while King of Fighters XV continues going strong two years after its launch, with new DLC characters on the way. For Oda, Fatal Fury is about to retake its rightful place among the greatest fighting game franchises with City of the Wolves.

“In my opinion, it’s one of the legendary fighting games,” Oda declares. “I want people to go in and experience the legend for themselves. We also have a small announcement that we’re going to add a few more characters to King of Fighters XV, so stay tuned for more news!”

Developed and published by SNK, Fatal Fury: City of the Wolves is scheduled to be released in the first half of 2025 for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.

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