Garou: Mark of the Wolves

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Garou: Mark of the Wolves (MOTW) was the last game in the Fatal Fury Series on the Neo*Geo. Garou: MOTW was released in 1999 and had almost a entirely new roster. There was only one returning playable character, Terry Bogard, though Terry had aged some years and had a completely new look for the game with shorter hair and a leather jacket (and he would go on to sport this look in a few of the future editions of The King of Fighters series). Series staple Kim Kaphwan appeared as a non-playable character, but only when one of the new characters, his son Kim Dong Hwan, was victorious and defeated his enemy with a desperation move, at which point, Kim Kaphwan would drop from the sky and chastise his loudmouthed offspring.

Mark of the Wolves was a distinctive game for many reasons. While the game introduced a ton of new gameplay features, it also introduced a brand-new cast of characters with ties to previously-existing SNK characters, including Rock Howard, the son of Geese Howard; Kim Dong Hwan and Kim Jae Hoon, the sons of Kim Kaphwan; Hokutomaru, the disciple of Andy Bogard; Marco Rodriguez (also known as Khushnood Butt), the disciple of Ryo Sakazaki; and Kain Heinlein, the game's final boss and Geese Howard's brother-in-law. Completing the arcade version of the game with a high enough rating would let you fight the game's standard boss, Grant, as well as the final boss, Kain. Defeating Kain would show an ending sequence for that character, and many of these ending sequences appeared to refer to ongoing storylines and future appearances by familiar characters, most likely in a sequel. These include Hokutomaru's ending, in which he receives a letter from his master Andy Bogard that states that by virtue of his victory, Hokutomaru is no longer Andy's pupil, but his rival; and Marco's ending, in which it is revealed that Marco's dojo was destroyed by a "crazy" guy--presumably a reference to Ryuji Yamazaki's earlier destruction of the Sakazaki dojo in KOF '98. Perhaps the most shocking ending was Rock's, in which he learns from his uncle, Kain Heinlein, that his mother, Geese Howard's (former?) wife is still alive, at which point, Rock "switches sides," walking out on his mentor and father-figure Terry and joining forces with the presumably "evil" Kain. These endings all seemed to point to a MOTW sequel with an ongoing story and potential appearances by "older" versions of Andy, Mai, Yamazaki, and Ryo, but sadly, MOTW never saw a sequel.

Gameplay Changes and New Features

Mark of the Wolves offered many changes to the Fatal Fury series' gameplay. For starters, Mark of the Wolves was the first Fatal Fury game to not have the series' trademark pseudo-3D "planes" (such as a foreground and a background), so MOTW played much more like a traditional 2D fighting game, with no "plane-shifting" (characters hopping back and forth between plans).

MOTW also introduced the TOP system, which let players choose a portion of their character's lifebar to allot as "TOP in." Players could set their TOP level at full life, the middle of their lifebar, or the end of it, and could adjust it to be a smaller (but more powerful) segment. Once your lifebar reached TOP level, your character's attacks will become more powerful; your character will slowly regenerate lost health; and your character will be able to perform unique TOP attacks by pressing the C+D buttons.

MOTW also had standard "overhead" attacks which, for most characters, could not be blocked by crouch-blocking opponents (similar to jumping attacks). Pressing AB would cause your character to perform an overhead attack. The lone exception to this was Gato, who would perform a low kick instead.

MOTW also included modified versions of the old Fatal Fury defensive attack. The new versions did not require you to be in blockstun; you could simply press down + AB at any time to perform a moderately high-priority attack to counter an incoming blow.

MOTW also included a new "brake" (sic) canceling system. Every character had at least one special attack whose animation could be canceled by quickly pressing A+B. Doing so would usually set up that character's opponent for a follow-up juggle attack. Most characters could follow-up their brake moves with a highly damaging desperation move or super desperation move.

Perhaps MOTW's most well-known new feature was "Just Defended," a new defensive system. If a player blocks his/her opponent's attack at the very last moment, he/she will trigger a "Just Defended," which not only pulls up and on-screen message, but also regains a small amount of health and enables the defending player to counterattack by way of guard cancel. This system was later adopted in Capcom's Capcom vs. SNK 2 as a part of the playable "K-Groove."

MOTW also let you perform two different "taunt" animations for each character by pressing either forward + A+C or down + A+C. These taunts could be canceled, like in Real Bout Fatal Fury 2, and in some cases, could be used as setups for exceptionally long combo attacks in MOTW.

Game Versions

  • Arcade (MVS)
  • Neo-Geo Home Console
  • Playstation 2 (jp)
  • Dreamcast

Version Differences

  • The Neo-Geo AES and Neo-Geo MVS are identical and are the best version of the game.

  • The Japanese Playstation 2 version is the best port. The only know differences are the lack of 'Guard Cancel' does not flash appear on the screen when you it is performed and the sound is a little different from the Neo-Geo versions. The training mode is better on the PS2 then the Neo-Geo..... but it's still a port.
  • The Dreamcast version is the worst port and suffers from a lot of issues.

The Characters

Note: Names in () are for japanese version