The Best SNK Games

Samurai Shodown

When there was a potential leak going around suggesting that the fourth DLC character for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate would be from SNK, the common question from the average gamer was “What’s SNK?” It appeared that many players didn’t know what SNK was, which upset many fans of Super Smash Bros. series. Fans didn’t want a character from a company they didn’t realize appear in their favorite fighting game; they wanted someone like Master Chief, Sora, or the L-block from Tetris.

I find it odd that so many people did not know what SNK was, especially since the company has been around for decades. They were one of the original arcade juggernauts, having created popular games like the Art of Fighting and Fatal Fury in the early 90s. They eventually found great success with their The King of Fighters series, which began in 1994.

SNK even created their own set video game hardware, inventing the Neo Geo line of merchandise. There were Neo Geo arcade cabinets, Neo Geo home consoles, and Neo Geo portable consoles. The Neo Geo were reasonably famous during the 90s before SNK stop production in early 2000 when the company was going through bankruptcy. Fortunately, the company is still around today, recently having released The King of Fighters XIV in 2016, and a new Samurai Shodown that was released this year.

The Best SNK Games

We don’t know if the fourth DLC character for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate would be from an SNK game, despite what the leak may imply. However, this whole leak has brought attention back to SNK, a company I personally really like. Since so many people appear not to know what SNK is, I feel like I should list out the best SNK games that gamers can get their hands on. Rather than be salty that a character you never heard of potentially getting into Smash Bros., educate yourself. Play some of their games, and you may be surprised with what you find.

Honorable Mentions

First thing first though, I’ll go over the honorable mentions from SNK library. I wasn’t joking about how big the company was in the days of arcades; they created dozens of classic arcade fighting games. There are fourteen The King of the Fighters games, and most of them are pretty good and worth playing. The original Art of Fighting and Fatal Fury games are pretty dated but worth checking out. The crossover the game, Capcom vs. SNK: Millennium Fight 2000, is enjoyable to play. It even has a pretty badass arcade flyer, yet it is now difficult to find a copy of the game.

My honorable mention goes to Rage of the Dragons, a fighting game released by SNK on the Neo Geo in 2002. The game acts like an homage to the classic Double Dragon arcade game, borrowing names and story elements from that iconic game. Rage of the Dragons is a twisted version of the Double Dragon, where the two leads failed in their initial mission years prior, and now take up street fighting. The player controls a team of two characters in each match, and you can swap between your two characters. The game’s aesthetic is great, and the cast of characters are enduring. The only reason why it isn’t in the main list is that the game is almost impossible to play now unless you have a Neo Geo, good luck trying to play this game.

Metal Slug 3

Most of SNK’s popular lineup are fighting games. They invented several popular arcade fighting franchises and several one-offs, so it makes sense that most of their best games are fighting based. Nonetheless, people tend to forget they were also the company that developed the Metal Slug series. Metal Slug is a run and shoot video game franchise that is similar to Contra, except you get to use tanks and even bigger guns. You also get to pick between four characters to play as.

Several games in the Metal Slug franchise would go nicely on this list. With that said, I think I’ll go with Metal Slug 3, which has the most polished gameplay mechanics and graphics of the original trilogy. Metal Slug 3 can be found in most modern consoles, including the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4. It can be found under the Arcade Archives/ACA Neogeo brand.

Samurai Shodown V/Samurai Shodown (2019)

The Samurai Shodown is not a typical fighting game series. Rather than fight your opponents with your fists, you need to strike your enemies down with the blade of your sword. The franchise requires far more precision from players than other games, as you need to plan out when you should strike your opponent or not.

The consensus is that Samurai Shodown V Special is the best game in the franchise, as many saw the game as perfecting some aspects in the previous entries in the series. However, if you wish to have something more contemporary, than this year’s Samurai Shodown isn’t a bad alternative. Samurai Shodown V Special has been ported digitally onto the Switch, PS4, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows. 2019’s Samurai Shodown is available to purchase on the same consoles as ported versions of V Special.

The King of Fighters XIII

This one was difficult to decide; The King of Fighters series has had many amazing titles throughout its run. In this series, you pick a team of three fighters. You select a specific order you want your fighters in, and face against another team of three fighters. After a fighter is defeated, the next one goes up against their opponent. You win by eliminating all three of your opponent’s fighters. The consensus is that The King of Fighters ’98 is the most popular game in the franchise, but at the same time, I think the most recent entry, The King of Fighters XIV, is entertaining to play.

Eventually, I decided to go with number XIII for this list. Not only is the gameplay excellent, but it is also graphically the best looking game in the franchise. This is the last game SNK would use 2D pixelated art, and it looks gorgeous in XIII. The character models are big and full of great detail, and animation is so very fluid. The King of Fighters XIII was released on the PS3 and Xbox 360 in 2011.

The Last Blade 2

The Last Blade franchise shamefully only consists of two games, which is upsetting because the second entry in the franchise is one of the best fighting games that SNK has ever developed. The Last Blade 2 is similar to Samurai Shodown in that fighters uses weapons to attack rather than their fists. The main difference is that Last Blade requires less precision, and you are allowed to wail on your opponent with multiple slashes.

Not only is the gameplay in Last Blade 2 excellent, but the game also looks beautiful. The re-release of the game on the PS4 looks especially amazing. The color and character animations are really impressive and hold up exceptionally well. The re-release on the PS4 comes with a lot of bonuses, like concept art, and even offers online play. The Last Blade franchise may be gone at the moment, however, don’t miss your opportunity to pick up the second game in series on the PS4. It is worth it, especially if you’re a fan of fighting games.

Garou: Mark of the Wolves

Garou: Mark of the Wolves is the last entry in the Fatal Fury fighting franchise. The Fatal Fury franchise stars the trucker-hat wearing Terry Bogard and his brother Andy, who both protect their hometown from the evil Geese Howard. Garou takes place years after Geese’s passing, with Terry taking care of Geese’s son Rock Howard.

Similar to Last Blade 2 and The King of Fighters XIII, Garou is a stunning game to behold. The characters feel lively, and the stages are rendered well. The most important thing about the game is how well it plays, and an SNK fighting game has never felt better since Garou. The game can be too tricky at times, especially when facing against certain fighters. Nonetheless, it feels polished, and it is always a joy to play. All the playable characters feel unique, with each one offering their own gameplay styles. Garou is a serious contender to be one of the best fighting games periods possibly.

Just like Last Blade 2, Garou had a re-release on the PS4. The re-release contains bonus content, like artwork, and updates the graphics a little. The re-release even offers online play. If you missed on Garou when it initially released on the Neo Geo in 2000, then you can still pick it up if you have a PS4. I highly recommend you do.

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