Garou: Mark of the Wolves is a 2D fighting game developed and published by SNK for the Neo Geo. The game is a wild departure from the other Fatal Fury games, with a brand new fighting engine that makes no use of multiple planes. This marks the first game without Andy Bogard or Joe Higashi. Set ten years after the death of Geese Howard, the only returning character is Terry Bogard. The story primarily focuses on Rock Howard, the son of Geese and trained under Terry, and the new "King of Fighters" tournament (not to be confused with the King of Fighters series) hosted by the mysterious Kain R. Heinlein.
The game is one of the most well-known games in the Fatal Fury series and is still played competitively worldwide for its balanced roster and highly-technical gameplay. The game was released for the Sega Dreamcast (under the title of Fatal Fury: Mark of the Wolves in the US), the PlayStation 2 (Japan only), and the Xbox 360 as an Xbox Live Arcade game. The XBLA version was released for 800 msp on June 24, 2009, and features online play, achievements, and leaderboards.
Garou - like many other SNK fighting games - uses four buttons - Light Punch, Strong Punch, Light Kick, Strong Kick. The game has throws as well as throw escapes. The game also has two evasion techniques, one which grants you upper body invincibility (this evasion is generally a standing attack), as well as one which grants you lower body invincibility (this evasion is generally an overhead attack). There are also rolling techniques, of which there are four. Rolls are performed by pressing one of the four attack buttons as you hit the ground from an attack, and each button allows your character to roll in a different direction with varying distance.
- Light Punch: Small Roll, in front of the opponent
- Light Kick: Small Roll, behind the opponent
- Strong Punch: Large Roll, in front of the opponent
- Strong Kick: Large Roll, behind the opponent
Each consecutive hit on a blocking opponent will gradually drain a non-displayed guard meter which regenerates when not blocking attacks. If a player manages to attack a blocking player for long enough, the blocking player will eventually flash red indicating that their guard meter is very close to being empty. Once the meter is fully drained, the blocking player will have his/her guard crushed, at which point the attacking player can successfully connect an attack or combo on them.
Just Defense is essentially the parrying technique in the game. If a player successfully blocks an incoming attack at the very last moment before it hits, they will have performed a Just Defense. By Just Defending moves, you recover faster from any block stun these moves may have had on you had you just been blocking normally. This decreased block stun generally allows you to counter attack the enemy as they are still recovering from their blocked move. For each successful Just Defense, the player will regain a small portion of health. If a player Just Defends a P Power or S Power super, they will gain a significantly larger portion of health back.
During the character select screen 1/3 of the player's life bar can be designated as the T.O.P. portion. During this part of the player's health, the character recieves health regeneration (limited by the T.O.P. portion of the health bar), increased damage, and increased super bar generation. In addition, Light Kick and Strong Kick together during this time will give a T.O.P. move unique to each character that is only available in this mode. The player, by pressing up/down on the stick while selecting T.O.P. portion, can change the size of the portion, with the benefit of increased damage at the cost of potential T.O.P. length.
Feint moves can be performed using Light Punch and Light Kick plus forward or down. These actions create the beginning animation and voice over for a special attack, but do not complete the move. In addition, they can be used to link attack combinations. Terry Bogard in particular is a favorite for long feint combos.
Many of each character's special moves can be broken or canceled after the first attack. These are also very useful for increasing combination length.
Similarities to Street Fighter III
Many fans of Garou: Mark of the Wolves cited it as SNK's answer to Capcom's Street Fighter III games, Mark of the Wolves and Street Fighter III do have similarities between them such as the way both games only had few returning characters from previous games in each respective series as well as the parrying/just defense systems.
The parrying/just defense systems are probably the most notable similarity between the two. Street Fighter III: Third Strike utilized the parry system which allowed a player to parry all standing and aerial attacks by tapping forward at the very last second before getting hit, as well as parry low attacks by tapping down in the same fashion. While parrying generally put the player who performed it at a frame advantage, practically all characters had move(s) that recovered simply too quickly to allow a proper counter attack by the parrying player. Parrying in SF3:3S was generally very strict with timing, if you were a second too late or too early, you would fail your parry.
In Garou: Mark of the Wolves, SNK implemented its Just Defense system. It is their interpretation of the parry, and it works differently in a few ways. The main difference is that a Just Defense is performed by blocking at the last second. You can Just Defend standing and aerial attacks by simply standing and blocking within the time constraints, and you could do the same about low attacks by blocking low. One of the notable differences with Just Defense is that the timing is more forgiving than it is with parrying, allowing players to either block too early and simply block the attack, or block at the right time and successfully Just Defend it. In addition Just Defending moves recovered a small portion of health when performed.
Garou: Legacy of Might
While not officially announced, there was a sequel to Garou in development which was abandoned with the fall of the Neo Geo platform. The name was supposed to be Garou: Legacy of Might. There are extremely rare and valuable prototype carts floating around for this game. Andy Bogard and Ryo Sakazaki (as Mr. Karate) were playable in these alpha versions. Kain and Grant were selectable from the beginning of the game also. The alpha was hardly playable, but it included some new characters and most of their moves. It is unlikely SNK has any plans for this game.