Art of Fighting 3 Review by Taiso
ART OF FIGHTING 3
The Path Of The Warrior: Art Of Fighting 3 Ryu Ko No Ken Gaiden: The Art Of Fighting
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COIN
The third chapter of the Art Of Fighting storyline shifts the focus away from the Sakazaki family and onto Robert Garcia and his desire to help an old childhood friend through a crisis that takes place, as far as I can tell, somewhere in South America or Mexico named Grasshill Valley. Robert is denied permission to leave the Garcia Foundation to help his friend but ignores his father's decision and goes anyway, prompting Mr. Garcia to send special agent Karman Cole to retrieve him (is there a connection between the Garcia Foundation and Wyler Robert doesn't know about? Hmn....).
Robert soon discovers that Freia is involved with a man named Wyler who is attempting to perfect a drug that will enhance one's physical characteristics to superhuman levels. Many people are encountered on this journey, some of them bounty hunters attempting to capture Freia (Rody, Lenny), others seeking revenge against enemies from the past whose paths have intertwined with that of Robert and Ryo (Jin Fu Ha, Kasumi Todo), and animal rights activist/artists (Wang Koh San).
While Robert protects Freia, Ryo Sakazaki is visited by Karman Cole, who thinks Ryo might be able to predict Robert's movements because he knows him so well. Concerned for Robert's safety, Ryo and Yuri decide to accompany Karman to Grasshill Valley to find their errant friend.
All of this comes to a head as Robert takes on all comers before beating Karman and a concerned Ryo (they are equals, after all), convincing them that Freia is his responsibility now and he must see this through. He eventually finds Freia and Wyler, who drinks his enhancing drug in order to crush Robert. It turns him into a monster, and he nearly destroys the Kyokugen fighter. Yuri makes the save for him, buying him the time he needs to get back into the fight.
Robert beats Wyler, who reverts back to normal but there was a price for the power he recently held. His mind has been destroyed. Freia, concerned for Wyler's well being, decides to stay with him in order to take care of him, and the adventure comes to an end. The epilogue shows Robert and Yuri at the airport preparing to board a plane bound for Italy together, thus concluding the storyline and, for all intents and purposes, solidifying Robert and Yuri as a couple (if the events of the epilogue and the implications made are any indication).
THE GOOD STUFF
The story: This would have made a great martial arts movie. Some people probably think Robert shouldn't have been the main focus of the game, but I disagree. AOF 3's dramatic departure from the 'continuing adventures of the Kyokugenryu family' was a bold step, and I liked the shift of perspective. Robert is a worthy character, Ryo's equal (in the AOF series the two have always been presented as roughly the same in strength and skill), and I liked that for once, the flamboyant, roguish character of a series wasn't reduced to comic relief (a la Joe in KOF/FF), and was given the spotlight to shine for once.
The animation: Best ever in a 2D fighter. Even moreso than Garou or Last Blade, in my opinion. It just has to be seen to be believed.
The music: This is one of SNK's best soundtracks ever. A really cool fusion of jazz and techno that is just perfect for this game and its atmosphere. It sounds like an arranged soundtrack, but that's all original, sweet neo cart sound coming out of that puppy.
The backgrounds: There is wonderful variety of backgrounds, each of them having vibrant colors and fluid animations. The fountain background is particularly stunning, as is the Cinqo de Mayo festival setting because of its estranged, desperate ambience.
The pursuit attacks: They are all very inventive and entertaining to watch. Especially Karman's .
The moving whallops: these are the moves where you step past and toss the opponent to the ground. I felt this added another dimension to 2D fighting. It's too bad we don't see this more often in games.
THE BAD STUFF
The constant knockdowns: they were frustrating, bogged the gameplay down and far too frequent for my tastes.
The ultimate k.o.s: I found that they were too easy to exploit, and nobody should be cheated out having at least two fights per credit.
No playable Yuri: Just think, if we didn't have KOF she would only have been playable in one game:P!
So there you have it. Overall, I'd say I liked this game a lot. At least, if my review is any indication. As with anything else, you have to be the final judge of whether or not this game is good, but I think it's a worthy entry into the SNK canon and the rarity of the cart would make it a fine addition to anyone's collection.
In simple scoring terms, I'd give it a 3 out of 4 stars, and would happily accept a fourth installment of this overlooked series.
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