Although recent years have seen SNK Playmore focus on King of Fighters exclusively, the studio owns a number of properties that are still near and dear to fans’ hearts. One such title is Garou: Mark of the Wolves, the most recent installment of the Fatal Fury franchise. Fortunately, hope is not lost for a follow-up.
During his visit to the Seika Kyouen tournament in Tokyo, Japan, King of Fighters XIV director Yasuyuki Oda commented on the event’s main titles, one of which just happened to be Mark of the Wolves. “I think people here are thinking, ‘Hey what are you doing, aren’t you forgetting about Garou?'” Oda said after showing off the latest King of Fighters trailer. “I’m going to do something about it before I die (laughs), so please keep on supporting us.”
Garou: Mark of the Wolves occupies a unique position in the SNK universe. As a bit of a scrub on the subject, I was confused as to why folks would want a sequel to the older title with King of Fighters XIV on the way, so I reached out to Giby Zia, Chris “Hellpockets” Fields, Andres Velasco y Coll, and Mike Spragg for their input on the matter.
According to Zia, this is mostly due to the split in mechanics that occurred as the franchises went their separate ways. “Fatal Fury has always toyed around with different gameplay mechanics with each title, while King of Fighters has rarely gone off too far from the status quo,” he explained. “Mark of the Wolves adopted a more Street Fighter style of play and ditched some of the more notable mechanics, mainly plane switching.” Fatal Fury’s status as the original Street Fighter competitor also makes it a bit more important than King of Fighters in the eyes of players, and it almost feels as if the latter has gradually usurped the former’s throne over the years.
Velasco y Coll noted that things like Just Defend and certain canceling mechanics further set Fatal Fury apart from King of Fighters. “SNK games were always entrenched in a weird system that dictated how the game would be played and, in a way, King of Fighters has become both their identity and their vanilla offering,” he said. “I’m not surprised to see interest in a Garou, which would play very differently.”
While I spoke to them separately, all four mentioned that the outcry for a Mark of the Wolves sequel also comes from the fanbase’s focus on its consistent storyline, something that has gone by the wayside in King of Fighters. “I know story isn’t that big of an issue for many competitive gamers,” Zia continued, “but die hard SNK fans eat up story and seem to know every detail about the games and characters, much like how anime players know their games.”
Spragg, too, cited Fatal Fury’s more narrow, focused plot as a key element to its continued popularity. “We need closure. What happened to Rock after Mark of the Wolves? Is Geese alive in Fatal Fury canon? What is Terry doing?” he explained.
Even though many regard the King of Fighters series as having some of the most fleshed out casts in the genre, I got the sense that even they don’t compare to the various Fatal Fury rosters from games past. “[King of Fighters] is kind of forced to include a certain amount of fan favorites to please people and have little space dedicated to brand new characters and additions from old games,” Fields said. This sentiment was also expressed by Spragg, who specifically mentioned wanting to see characters like Blue Mary, Duck King, Kim Dong Hwan, and Kim Jae Hoon, who have appeared in past releases but all but disappeared since.
With these details in mind, it’s easy to see why Oda’s mention of a possible Garou sequel has gained so much attention within the SNK community. As one of the key staff members during development of the original Mark of the Wolves, he is in a unique position to carry on its legacy in this modern era. Let’s hope he isn’t too burnt out on King of Fighters XIV to make accomplish this goal.