REAL BOUT SPECIAL: DOMINATED MIND
Though it was never released on the American PSX, Real Bout Special is easily one of the best 2D fighters for the PSX... or anywhere. Up until the past couple of years, gamers avoided 2D fighters for the PSX like the plague, because the awful gameplay due to the system's lack of RAM. Spending a few bucks more, they bought the import Saturn versions which were much more accurate translations of the arcades. After the somewhat weak conversions of King of Fighters 95, 96, SNK got serious about the PSX. They changed the format of the game a bit, taking out some things and adding others, most noticeably the inclusion of a new character named Alfred, and the return of Geese Howard, as well as some visually stunning animation sequences. The result was the superb Real Bout Special.
Real Bout Special sports some of the cleanest looking fighters in a PSX game, with almost no noticeable missing frames of animation. The characters move fluidly through every punch, kick, and special move. The special attacks are downright impressive, easily rivaling those of Street Fighter Alpha 2 and 3. The characters are big, and full of life. Their backgrounds are lavishly animated (snow falls in the Korea stage, amid dozens of training fighters) and reflect the characters' personalities rather well.
No matter how pretty it looks, the most important thing in any fighting game in control, and Real Bout Special has it in spades. There is virtually no response time - the instant you hit the button, your character performs the move. Only a few of the Desperation Moves are cumbersome to execute (i.e. Geese's Raising Storm), and after a little practice, you'll have them down in no time.
While admittedly not the best in the world, Real Bout's is certainly not the worst. The basic punch, kick, and grunt noises are there, along with each characters unique taunts. The announcer is easily understood, as are the names of each special move.
Overall, I was extremely impressed with Real Bout special. It's wide variety of fighters (21) and wonderful gameplay kept me playing for hours. Though the menus are in Japanese, this is a fighting game, so being bilingual is not essential. The load times are very minimal, especially in comparison to the Neo Geo CD version of the game. Real Bout Special will be a delight for SNK fans who are tired of bad conversions, fighting game diehards, and Fatal Fury fans alike. Definately file this one under keeper.
- John Gillerlain
Overall: 9.5 / 10
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