FATAL FURY 2 / SNK / Arcade
So, Fatal Fury 2 ... are you an improvement over the slow clunkiness of the first game?
Yeah, actually you are! The first Fatal Fury game was an early entrant to the fighting game market in the immediate wake of Street Fighter 2's initial success, when companies were kind of rushing and flailing to get in on this hot new trend. Fatal Fury 2 took a little over a year to gestate and gauge the market, incorporating some of the key things that made Capcom's landmark game so popular.
First, the roster expands to eight playables out of the gate instead of three (this was actually the first game from SNK to introduce the "King of Fighters" tournament idea, which of course got spun off into an even more successful series a couple of years after this). There are also now four attacks, and as far as I can recall this was the first fighting game to implement dashing by double-tapping. There is additionally a taunt that restores a small amount of health and a special "desperation move" when your life bar gets down to 25% that add some depth to the game.
The "plane switching" gimmick is retained, but they've integrated it into the gameplay better and made it more useful here. Pushing the light attack buttons together allows you to jump planes at any time, and the heavy attack buttons together will knock the foe to the other plane.
Fatal Fury 2 was also the first game to establish the SNK trend of having great sprite work, elaborate animated backgrounds and really nice sound. Unfortunately, all of these positive qualities I've just gone over were ruined for a lot of people by the start of another SNK fighting game trend - the CPU being on you like stink on a monkey from second one of round one, even on the lower settings. The relentless difficulty makes it very hard to Git Gud at the game, triply so if you were a kid in the early '90s feeding quarters into this thing at the local pizza place.
Still, Fatal Fury 2 was a solid step forward and has a lot to appreciate if you're willing to sink the time and effort into overcoming the brutal learning curve. Aside from that, the only real problem is that SNK followed it up fairly quickly with Fatal Fury Special which was basically the Street Fighter 2: Turbo of this game and made it effectively obsolete.
* Gameplay Video