When you think about the most influential companies in video games, the obvious choices that first come to mind are the big players like Nintendo or Sony, or companies like EA, Ubisoft, or Capcom. There’s no denying the influence and impact these companies have had on the gaming industry. But there’s one company that doesn’t pop up in the conversation very much - SNK. It’s a shame, since there’s no denying the influence SNK has had on gaming - chances are you may have played a game that has been influenced by SNK and not have even known.
Founded in 1973, SNK (Shin Nihon Kikaku, now just known as the SNK Corporation) is a company that specialized in development for both arcade games and early home console games. SNK’s early franchises included Baseball Stars, Crystalis, and - perhaps their most well known at the time - Ikari Warriors. SNK really hit their stride in the early 1990s, with the introduction of the Neo Geo MVS arcade system, the Neo Geo AES home console, and the debut of one of their flagship titles - Fatal Fury.
Released in 1991, Fatal Fury was a groundbreaking fighting game that, along with Capcom’s Street Fighter II, would lay the foundation of the fighting game boom that would dominate arcades and video gaming as a whole in the 90s. Fatal Fury would also lay the foundation for more fighting game franchises from SNK, including Art of Fighting and Samurai Shodown. The success of these titles, along with the wave of success SNK was riding in the early 90s, would lead them to develop yet another groundbreaking title in the world of fighting games - a franchise that will release their 15th main title entry this year - The King of Fighters.
It all began in ‘94, with The King of Fighters ‘94 on SNK’s Neo Geo systems and the arcade scene. KOF ‘94 featured gameplay very similar to the previous Fatal Fury titles SNK had developed before, expanding the one-on-one fights to teams-of-three fighters going head-to-head. But perhaps the biggest influence that The King of Fighters had on video gaming wasn’t in its gameplay, but in its concept - this was the first major crossover game in fighting game history.
The idea was simple: SNK took their characters from franchises like Fatal Fury, Art of Fighting, Ikari Warriors, and more - then threw them all together in the ring to duke it out in The King of Fighters. This simple, yet groundbreaking concept would lay the foundation for not only the King of Fighters series, but for future fighting games to utilize crossovers. Think about it like this: without SNK and the success of King of Fighters, we may never have gotten a Marvel vs. Capcom. We may never have gotten a Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe… We may never have gotten the most well-known crossover fighter of all time - Super Smash Bros.
While SNK may never have or will reach the mainstream popularity that some of their contemporaries in the video game industry have reached, the silent influence that they have left and still have on the world of gaming (fighting games in particular) will always be felt. There’s an undeniable charm to SNK’s fighters, and with Fatal Fury’s Terry appearing in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and The King of Fighters XV dropping on February 17th, 2022, it’s a good time to be an SNK fan.
- Written by Fair Game Staff Member Cody E.
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