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Re(4):Secret life of Real Bout
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Yes, that probably came from me. FF3 was one of the very first, and cheapest, Neo Geo home versions to feature the new hard plastic + soft lock game case design. The PCB itself contained something like 36MB or 42MB of ROM (so a lot of space to replace the original ROM chips with the converted game's) and it had one of the most versatile board patterns and circuits allowing for the mods in question. For all these reasons, the cart of FF3 was highly sought after in the modding scene (at least in Europe). [QUOTE]It's surprising to read that FF3 is considered the series' black sheep (unless they mean exclusively on the financial standpoint); back when it was released, I thought it was quite a good game.[/QUOTE] The game was trying a lot of interesting things but it had kilotons of issues. A very simple first issue was the typical SF3/AOF3/SS3/SFZ1/etc. mid-life crisis of removing too many popular characters to refresh the roster. This design decision had to impact the amount of returning players, while the new characters and setting failed to attract enough new players to compensate. Furthermore, the extra work to create all these new characters meant the roster barely got to 10 characters, back when few games got less than 14 to 16, in an era when this kind of data still mattered a lot as a selling point. The focus on a deeper and more intricate storyline was actually well in line with the direction such games were taking, but it unfortunately did not have the appeal of the budding "Orochi Saga" next door (more on that later). And it tried a lot of new things in its game mechanics, but they were actually a bit too obscure for the layman fan. Basically, FF3 was either not cool enough or too cool to be successful (... the real answer is "not cool enough"). Even if you got seriously into the game, I am surprised you did not get scarred by the issues plaguing the new mechanics, both at the casual and the competitive level. FF3 tried to outdo the previous episode by adding a new "front plane" in addition to the center plane and back plane.This was also probably motivated by the new trend of 3D fighting games at the time, but it made moving around super complicated with different button combinations depending on where you want to go. FF3 also added fake moves and hidden SDM but they were pretty hard to input consistently to the point that they were effectively useless. And it kept the strict motion input of the era, right before both SNK and Capcom became way more lenient about motion input and allowing Option Select. Everything was a good idea on paper, poorly implemented in practice (except the short jump / hop, which became a staple of SNK games). FF3 was both too complicated, too messy, too frustrating, and not promising enough contents, fun and lore in return. Keep in mind all of these issues happened: 1. Directly after the huge success of FF Special, so the failure of FF3 really stuck out in comparison. 2. In the middle of the crazy KOF boom which brought SNK millions of dollars and made most other franchises look outdated in controls, visual style, character design, story settings, roster size etc. 3. A few weeks after the release of Virtua Fighter 2 which instantly made 2D fighting games prehistoric relics among more casual audiences and drove many fighting game fans towards 3D fighting games such as VF, Tekken and Tōshinden. So it's really not surprising that FF3 failed. Real Bout was basically one huge maniacal course correction of FF3's many mistakes, from the extended roster with popular returning characters, to the simplification of the 3D system with a single button to control all frontward/backward steps and attacks, to the proper implementation of fake moves, to the Hidden SDM replaced with P Power ranking, to the to the adoption of ring outs (like VF), etc. Adding the insult to injury, FF3 was one of the first games to be at the same time way too pretty and ambitious too be ported to 16bit consoles, and too early in the SS/PS1 conversion cycle to prevent a crappy conversion, which meant outlets (and consumers) trashed the game when they got to play those lesser ports. To the point that it motivated SNK to either add RAM cartridges for future conversions (on the Saturn) or try new things/modes to compensate for the lower quality of PS1 ports. In a nutshell, this game is basically the Wii U of the FF franchise: missed opportunities, poorly implemented good ideas, bad timing, bad luck. Real Bout is Switch: essentially the same proposal but everything is smarter and makes more sense and it comes at a better time and it has good karma and it just feels better. So let's just move on and enjoy [s]Swi[/s]Real Bout instead of lamenting too hard about FF3's could have would have should have... That being said! There is one silver lining: [URL=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxYKKEYKW58&list=PL7B84D57720BAA5BB]FF3 was rewarded with the greatest arranged soundtrack in the entire history of fighting games.[/URL] So there's that.
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