Interview: How Fatal Fury: City of the Wolves Revives a Classic Series Over 20 Years Later 1

Fatal Fury: City of the Wolves is the first new game in the series since 1999. The iconic fighting game franchise is getting its long overdue revival, coming to PS5 and PS4 next year with a fresh art style and modern features. We sat down with Chief Producer Yasuyuki Oda, Art Supervisor Nobuyuki Kuroki, and Producer and interpreter Joshua Weatherford to discuss this new entry.

Push Square: It's been 25 years since the last game in the series. Why is now the right time to bring back Fatal Fury?

Yasuyuki Oda: As one of the [designers] on the previous game, I wanted to make it sooner, but a lot of things happened. I left [SNK] for a while, then came back. When I did come back, one of my first goals was to bring back Fatal Fury, but I had to set the stage with some of our other titles, like Samurai Shodown.

It worked out very nicely. We're also in a new golden age of fighting games, so it's the perfect time for the game to come back.

With Fatal Fury: City of the Wolves, what balance have you struck between adhering to series staples and breaking new ground with fresh features and ideas?

Oda: It was obviously a challenge, especially bringing in the new elements, but we kind of just looked at legacy elements from Fatal Fury, finding ways to adjust them to work in a modern gaming sense. We're even taking into account things like rollback netcode, it has to work well with that.

As for old mechanics, we're making sure to keep as true to the roots as possible, to keep the fans who've been playing [Fatal Fury] for 30 years happy.

It sounds like it'll be a hit with big fans of the series, but what have you done to ensure this is just as appealing to newcomers as well?

Oda: From a gameplay perspective, definitely one of the biggest things is the addition of the new smart style control scheme, that allows for more simplified controls for anybody to jump in and enjoy the game, and even play at a high level.

Nobuyuki Kuroki: And then on the visual side, I would say one of the reasons why we went for this very unique American comic shader and art style is to stand out and catch the eye [of new players]. People who might not know the game will see a screenshot and say, 'Wow, that looks cool, I want to know more about it.'

You also brought up the smart style control scheme earlier. Can you tell me more about how that affects the game?

Oda: One of the goals was to make sure [the smart style controls] were designed in a way that people would be able to use it and even get to like the top eight in a major tournament. There are merits and demerits to both sides of the control scheme, but we're still tuning it and coming up with new ideas, so we're looking forward to seeing what's possible when the game comes out.

You mentioned rollback netcode earlier. Could you tell us more about your approach to online play?

Joshua Weatherford: Yes. We added rollback netcode in King of Fighters XV, and we've added it to a lot of our retro games as well. It's kinda become the standard for the fighting game community, so we've made sure to stick to that standard too.

You also brought up that fighting games are in a good position right now. We've had Street Fighter 6, Tekken 8, and Mortal Kombat 1 all arrive fairly close together, and they're all beloved by fans. Where do you see Fatal Fury: City of the Wolves fitting into this landscape?

Oda: We obviously have our own fighting game map, with King of Fighters, Samurai Shodown, et cetera. The big thing with this is it's a 1v1 game, it's more combo-heavy than something like Samurai Shodown. If you're looking at the overall landscape, it's closest to something like Street Fighter 6 in the play feel.

But it also has its distinct elements, like the way the REV system works, giving you full power from the start of the match.

You've touched on the REV system — could you talk about the new features you're bringing to Fatal Fury in this game?

Oda: I'm not very good at fighting games despite making them for so many years. So the REV Accel system, where you can connect different EX special moves together, and it leaves like a blue after-image; my goal with that was to make it so that anybody can do combos very simply, but they also look very flashy and cool.

Weatherford: For me, one thing I would say is that we're doing English voice acting for the first time basically ever. That was a pretty big challenge, but we learned a lot, and I think we've done a very good job of bringing the characters to life in English. I'm hoping to see a lot of positive comments from fans around the world about that.

As with all fighting games, multiplayer will be a big draw for fans, but what will City of the Wolves have for those looking to play singleplayer?

Oda: Obviously it has a standard arcade story game mode that you would expect. We do have a couple of other smaller modes that'll add a bit more to the singleplayer experience, but no details to share about that right now.

How do you decide which characters to include in the game and which ones to leave out?

Oda: The story was kind of cut short and left on a cliffhanger in [the previous game] Mark of the Wolves, so a lot of character stories were not finished. So with this game we were thinking of how to complete those stories for the fans of these specific characters. That was one of the key elements of deciding what characters are in the game.

Are you able to talk much about your post-launch plans for Fatal Fury: City of the Wolves?

Oda: So we're already planning to have a long tail of support for the game, with a lot of character additions especially, and a lot of surprises I don't think people will see coming as well. So look forward to more information about that.

While we're on the subject of characters, who's your go-to fighter in this game?

Oda: All of them!

Kuroki: All of them!

Weatherford: Rock Howard!

Which characters would you say are best for newcomers to the series?

Oda: I think Preecha is especially good. We thought about her from the beginning as a being a beginner-friendly character. She has a few easy moves to connect to combos and so on.

Weatherford: Also characters like Terry. He's in other fighting games so people may already know his moves and stuff, so he's a good go-to. But I'd even say Marco is a good character to start with, because he's cool as hell. You can't beat that. The presence alone is strong.

You announced during Summer Game Fest's live show the crossover with Street Fighter 6. Could you talk about that, and your relationship with Capcom?

Oda: We're very good friends with Capcom and the Street Fighter team. We actually started talking about this collaboration about two years ago at EVO. We're just very happy they were able to announce it on such a big stage, and congratulations to that team.

We're meeting with them quite a bit recently, so if [the SNK characters] continue to be a hit for them, there'll definitely be more possibilities in the future. We're always interested in working with them.

Is there anything else you wanted to touch on before we wrap up?

Weatherford: Yeah, we have one small announcement about King of Fighters XV.

Oda: We're planning to add a few more characters to King of Fighters XV as well, so please wait for more info on that in the future.

Additionally, for the rest of this year we're going to be very busy going to as many gaming events as possible, having the game playable and doing announcements, so just keep your eyes out for more info.

Many thanks to the team for taking the time to speak with us. Fatal Fury: City of the Wolves is due to release on PS5 and PS4 in 2025. Are you excited for this stylish new fighting game? Let us know in the comments section below.