The news that Terry Bogard is coming to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has triggered some rather polarising responses from Nintendo fans. For gamers of a certain vintage, Bogard’s name is synonymous with SNK’s superb lineage of one-on-one fighting games, stretching all the way back to 1991’s Fatal Fury: King of Fighters (not to be confused with The King of Fighters, a series which would spin-off from Fatal Fury a few years later). However, we were struck by the number of people on social networks we witnessed who seemed to have absolutely no idea who this cap-wearing pugilist was; it was at this point that we suddenly felt very, very old.
Here’s a selection of the best (read: worst) tweets we saw:
Keen to right this wrong, we decided it might be a nice idea to detail the background and history of this iconic (but perhaps not as iconic as we originally suspected) fighting game legend.
A Street Fighting Man
Terry Bogard’s first appearance was in 1991’s Fatal Fury (known in Japan as “Garou Densetsu”, or “Legend of the Hungry Wolf”), alongside (even less famous) sibling, Andy. Fatal Fury was SNK’s attempt to muscle in on the popularity of Street Fighter II, and was actually brainstormed by none other than Takashi Nishiyama, who created the original Street Fighter in 1987 when working at Capcom. It is Nishiyama who came up with the “Hadouken” fireball – a projectile special move which has arguably become a mainstay of the fighting game genre.
Fatal Fury used the power of the Neo Geo arcade system to deliver visuals that were arguably on par with those of Street Fighter II, but by only offering three playable fighters – Terry, Andy and Joe Higashi – it had limited appeal when compared to Capcom’s title. A novel gimmick was the ability to switch between two rows of movement, a feature which would be comprehensively tinkered with over the course of the series.
In Fatal Fury, Terry enters the King of Fighters tournament to avenge the death of his father at the hands of the hilariously-named Geese Howard. His striking look – red cap, jeans, red jacket and sneakers – was laid down here, although in Fatal Fury 2 he would adopt what has become his true trademark style, with the arms of his jacket torn off. Back in the early ’90s, Terry was unquestionably one of the coolest-looking fighting game characters around, and this became a massive part of the Fatal Fury series’ appeal.
Road to the Final Victory
Outside of the first two Fatal Fury games, Terry would also star in Fatal Fury Special (an updated version of the sequel, showcasing the fact that SNK, like Capcom, wasn’t above milking its arcade titles) and Fatal Fury 3: Road to the Final Victory. While the third game expanded the two-row system to a three-row playfield, it wasn’t as successful as Capcom’s fighting games of the period, which forced SNK to double-down with the follow-up, Real Bout Fatal Fury. With its bold and colourful visuals, simplified controls and improved combat mechanics, the Real Bout sub-series restored Fatal Fury’s popularity in both arcades and at home, and spawned two sequels – Real Bout Fatal Fury Special and Real Bout Fatal Fury 2: The Newcomers.
The latter was released in 1998, a point in time when 2D fighters were beginning to lose their appeal in arcades and 3D gaming was all the rage at home. Against this shifting backdrop, SNK produced what many consider to be its best fighting game, and the conclusion of the Fatal Fury series. Garou: Mark of the Wolves launched in 1999 and, for the first time in the franchise, dramatically changed Terry’s appearance.
Set ten years after the death of Geese Howard, the game sees a much older Bogard – minus his cap and wearing boots and a leather jacket – living up to the responsibilities of looking after Rock Howard, Geese’s orphaned son. While Terry remains a key focal point in the game, Rock is essentially the main character and combines Terry and Geese’s styles in his special moves.
Garou: Mark of the Wolves is effectively the conclusion of the Fatal Fury series at the time of writing, and while a sequel was planned, it never actually saw release. Outside of the mainline games, Terry also starred in spin-offs like Fatal Fury: 1st Contact on the Neo Geo Pocket Color, Fatal Fury: Wild Ambition on the Hyper Neo Geo 64 arcade system and Real Bout Garou Densetsu Special: Dominated Mind on the PlayStation.
A King of Fighters… and beyond
As one of SNK’s most popular characters, it’s unsurprising that Terry Bogard has found himself in multiple spin-off titles over the years, the most notable being The King of Fighters franchise. He made up one-third of the Fatal Fury team in the series debut, The King of Fighters ’94, and has been an ever-present in every single entry since then. Indeed, you could argue that King of Fighters is where many modern players will have experienced Terry first, and the enduring popularity of the franchise will certainly have helped increase his fame over the decades. Alongside the likes of Kyo Kusanagi and Iori Yagami, Terry is one of the most popular ‘mains’ in the entire franchise.
Terry has also featured in crossover titles like the Capcom vs. SNK sub-series (which also includes the excellent ‘Card Fighters’ games) and Neo Geo Battle Coliseum, as well as Fighting EX Layer, created by Akira, the company founded by none other than Street Fighter II designer Akira Nishitani. Outside of fighting games, he’s appeared in the shooter KOF: Sky Stage, dating sim Days of Memories, otome title King of Fighters for Girls, a pachinko game based on King of Fighters and the music title spin-off The Rhythm of Fighters.
Terry has recently starred in a high-profile Switch release, but you’d be forgiven for not realising it if you’re not a keen follower of his body of work. In SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy, Terry is gender-swapped to fit in with the cast of exclusively female fighters – his cap even says “Fatal Cutie” instead of Fatal Fury. Ahem.
Which leads us neatly to the present, and Smash Bros. Ultimate. While some fans have questioned why Terry is being included in the game (and some even ponder who the devil he is), to us, he’s a worthy addition. Just like Street Fighter’s Ryu, Terry Bogard is one of the elder statesmen of the fighting game genre; hopefully, by making the leap into Smash Bros. Ultimate, he can find a whole new audience that perhaps even eclipses the one he enjoyed during his peak in the 1990s.