Garou: Mark of the Wolves/Fatal Fury: Mark of the Wolves
- Platforms: Neo Geo, Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, Xbox 360 (Xbox Live Arcade), iOS, Android, PlayStation 3 (PlayStation Network [JP only]), PS4 (PlayStation Network).
- Suggested Platform: PS4
- Developer: SNK
- Genre: Fighting
- Release Date: 02/25/00 (NA)
- Why Play It?: One of the best fighting games around.
- Why Skip It?: If you don’t like fighting games, or don’t have anyone to play with.
- Video Link: You Should be Playing Garou: Mark of the Wolves
“Certainly, they existed. Those blinded by ambition. Those consumed with vengeance. But here, they do not exist. Only winners and losers here. For here, the mighty rule!” Garou: Mark of the Wolves is my friend’s and mine main go-to fighter, right next to Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike: Fight for the Future. The reason? It’s simple, balanced, fun, and has plenty of cool characters. Also, I own a stand up Neo Geo MVS cabinet, so there is no better way to play a fighter than shoulder to shoulder, in my opinion.
Garou: Mark of the Wolves features 14 characters(12 regular and 2 boss characters), which is relatively small, but each character is fleshed out and balanced so well, that 12 seems like just enough. The roster includes mostly new characters that make other appearances later in SNK games, and stars the Fatal Fury front-man, Terry Bogard with his new signature move, Buster Wolf. It’s a 4 button fighter, so you’ve got 2 kicks, 2 punches, and that’s pretty much it.
Each character has their own selection of moves from projectiles, to cross screen flips, to counters. Unique to Garou is the T.O.P. (Tactical Offensive Position) system. When you select your character, you decide where to place your T.O.P., and how long it lasts for. T.O.P. is a short portion of your life bar that, while your character’s health is in that point that they become stronger, and slowly regenerates their health bar. Also, every character has one additional move they can only use while in TOP. You can choose to have a longer but less effective T.O.P., or a short, yet super powerful T.O.P.. This can help change tactics or the outcome of a match entirely. Use your top as an opening force, save it as a last-ditch effort, or anything in between. As you fight, you’ll fill up your super bar to S-Power and eventually P-Power. Your super move will be stronger if you use the P-Power version. Garou also has guard cancels, feints, and other cancels for more advanced players. Lastly, if you guard a move just as it connects with you, you’ll perform a Just Guard and recover a small bit of life in doing so.
The plot is normal for a fighting game. It’s a tournament that takes place 10 years after Geese Howard’s(from other Fatal Fury games) death. Everybody has their own motives for joining. You don’t really play fighting games for the stories, do you? That being said, each character has some association with previous Fatal Fury characters, so if you’re a fan of the series, you’ll really appreciate the characters in Garou. At any rate, the story mode will take you through a number of stages, with a special story bit before dealing with the 2 final bosses. The bosses are also balanced pretty well, and aren’t a nightmare to beat, like some of the King of Fighter’s bosses. There is also a survival mode where you have to defeat all the characters (but only 1 round instead of best of 3) without running out of time or life, which carries over between matches. As you deal damage, the enemy my drop pickups like more time, or life and power, both of which can go up or down. Luckily, you can knock the enemy into the power downs too! Finally, there’s training mode, so you can master each character at your own pace. My only gripe is that there’s no command list, but almost every move is simple to pull off and will come naturally to those who like fighters.
Personally, I feel as though fighting games are best played on a stick rather than a controller, so I vote Neo Geo as the best system for this fighter. As of 12/6/16, Garou was released on PlayStation Network on the PlayStation 4, and since it has network play, trophies, run options, and gallery images to unlock, I believe the PS4 version is the superior version at this point in time, even though it’s not quite the same as on a Neo Geo cabinet, the feature edge it out, just barely. That said, the other versions are fine as well, just skip the Dreamcast version. The sounds are all screwy and laggy on the Dreamcast version and as a result, it’s difficult to play, especially if you’ve played it before.
Simple and easy to play is best. The game is fluid, feels good to play, has awesome characters, and is great fun with some friends. If you’ve never played Garou before and you’re a fan of fighting games, you’re doing yourself a great disservice.