Review: Garou: Mark of the Wolves (PS4/PSV/PSTV)

Formats:

  • PlayStation 4
  • PlayStation Vita
  • PlayStation 2
  • Xbox 360
  • iOS, Android
  • Dreamcast
  • Neo Geo
  • Arcade

Format/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4, PS Vita
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
  • PlayStation TV Compatible Yes
  • Cross-Buy Yes
  • Cross-Save Yes
  • Cross-Play Yes
  • Cross-Chat No
Title: Garou: Mark of the Wolves
Format: PSN (PS4 263.4 MB) (PSV 162.3 MB)
Release Date: December 3, 2016
Publisher: SNK Playmore
Developer: SNK Playmore
Original MSRP: $14.99 (US), €14.99 (EU), £11.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: T
PEGI: 12
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

I knew nothing of this title before the announcement of the port at PSX 2016. Part of the SNK Fatal Fury series and a fan favorite by all accounts, can this aging game still be fun today?

Gameplay:
Garou: Mark of the Wolves is a Cross-Buy game and thanks to the four-button control scheme, it handles well on both the Vita and PlayStation 4. Because it only has high and low punches and kicks, the button combinations are more manageable and easier to learn than a few other fighting games on the market today.

Having said that, it’s still a very fast and fluid game where I any players with enough skill or button-mashing luck can do a hefty amount of damage. There are fourteen characters to choose from including the two bosses. Each has a unique style and personality and all seem to be balanced exceptionally well, at least in my novice fighting game experience.

The varied selection of fighters include some interesting characters. My girls find Marco Rodriguez quite funny, probably due to the character select screen labeling him as Butt. There are usually characters I dislike and avoid in fighting games but this one has a nice well-rounded group.

What sets this apart from most others is the Tactical Offensive Position System (T.O.P. System). Before each fight you can select either the start, middle, or end area of the health bar. When your character’s health is in that area they slowly regenerate health, are stronger, and can perform special T.O.P. moves.

At first, I assumed this T.O.P. System was a silly throwaway feature that would barely make a difference during a tense and quick fight, but I quickly learned that it can make a lot of difference and adds a layer of strategy to each fight. Button mashers can still have fun and ignore it, but when facing a skilled opponent, they stand little chance of survival.

… the different animations and effects are great …
Visuals:
Every character has a meticulously crafted stage to call their own. Some even have a night or sunset variant with different things happening in the background. I am surprised at how great these stages look, with an excellent sense of depth and plenty of action to distract the eye while you fight, or in my case, are beaten to a pulp.

The game features a nice introductory movie with a catchy little tune and a gallery feature that unlocks artwork as you play through the game. Every character location has a small introduction that is worth checking out at least once.

I can see why so many people hold this fighting game in such high regard, the different animations and effects are great and must have pushed the hardware to its limits all that time ago before the millennium. I marvel at the attention to detail in both the characters and stages with transparency and dazzling special moves.

With this port to the Vita and PlayStation 4, you can adjust the screen size, scanlines, frame art, flicker filter, and even smooth the image. I like playing the game on both systems but if I had to pick, the Vita would just about win thanks to that stunning little screen that helps to show off the beauty of old games like this one.

… a few online issues but little else that I can fault …
Audio:
With very nice music and effects and fully voiced too, this is one fighting game that I like hearing. It might be the 90’s music that reminds me of all these old classic arcade machines that I adored in my childhood.

Online/Multiplayer:
The game features local and online multiplayer and the Vita version has an Ad-Hoc mode too. Before the fighting game aficionados begin furiously writing emails, I am just an average gamer when it comes to this genre, and have even lost a few games to my kids. From what I have gathered from my time with the game, it plays very well locally but can be problematic online.

The online lobby has been very quiet each time I checked and some games I played were dreadfully laggy. The ones with a good connection were stable and had very little to complain about, apart from losing most matches. You can set up a Story or Practice Mode game and wait for matches while you fight, which is nice.

Conclusion:
Garou: Mark of the Wolves does have a few online issues but little else that I can fault. Everything about this game is great and I love being able to play it on both systems thanks to Cross-Buy and Cross-Play. Fans of the genre should definitely grab this as it holds so much inspiration for what followed for many years to come.

For everyone else, it’s an enjoyable fighting game that anyone can play and quickly master with the simple but deadly special moves. This one is definitely a 2D fighter worthy of your time.

Score:

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Vita’s built-in screen capture feature and the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

PS Vita Screenshots

PS4 Screenshots

Written by Chazz Harrington

Chazz Harrington

You can find me on everything: PSN, Twitter, Wii U, Origin, Steam, etc using my universal ID: ChazzH69

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