Art of Fighting is the second fighting game recreated by SNK, and one of the precursors to the King of Fighters series, along with Fatal Fury. The Genesis version is a port of the original Neo Geo arcade version of the game.
The Art of Fighting series is a prequel to the Fatal Fury series; however, when the plots of both were combined to create the background for the King of Fighters series, the timeline was changed so that both were set around the same time.
In Art of Fighting, Ryo Sakazako and his training partner and friend, Robert Garcia, fight through a series of opponents in order to face Mr. Big, who has kidnapped Ryo's sister, Yuri. Mr Big has been offended by both Ryo and Ryo's father, Takuma, who've refused to work for him. After defeating Mr. Big, Ryo or Robert face Mr. Karate. The game ends in a cliff-hanger in which Yuri defends Mr. Karate while about to reveal his identify.
Characters include: Ryo Sakazaki, Robert Garcia, Ryuhaku Todoh, Jack Turner, King, Lee Pai Long, John Crawley, Micky Rogers, Mr. Big and Mr. Karate.
Art of Fighting has both a single player and a 2 player vs mode. In the vs mode, each player can choose from any of the 8 available fighters. In the single player story mode, only Ryo and Robert are playable.
The game features some interesting features which were new to fighting games at the time, including a super move that can be learned from completing a bonus round in which you have to perform the move shown five times. Another unique move is the desperation attack, which can only be performed when the player is low on health. The game also features a spirit gauge which is used to perform special attacks and which slowly refills over the battle. There is also a taunt attack, which will drain the opponent's spirit gauge.
A big graphical feature which Art of Fighting introduced to the genre is sprite scaling. The feature created an effect where the characters and backgrounds would get smaller so that more of the screen could be displayed when characters move away from each other.
The Genesis version of the game does not feature the scaling effect mentioned above, and several of the characters' moves have been changed.
Art of Fighting was followed-up with 2 sequels for the Neo Geo. Art of Fighting 1 is available in many different forms now; it is part of the SNK Classics Collection for Wii and PS2, the Art of Fighting Anthology for PS2, and is downloadable on Wii Virtual Console and the Neo Geo Station on PS3.