Garou: Mark of the Wolves Review - The Next Level

Game Profile

Xbox Live Arcade
Release date:
June 24th 2009
SNK Playmore USA
SNK Playmore USA
1 - 2

Garou: Mark of the Wolves

Second South still needs your help.

Review by Pat Butler (Email)
August 6th 2009

Any denizen of the fighting game world, SNK fanboy, or gamer of good taste should recognize the name Garou: Mark of the Wolves. Bow before its name, since it remains one of the most refined and enjoyable 2D fighters there is. To those unaware of its importance to fighting game enthusiasts, it's considered the "Third Strike of SNK games." That's a pretty accurate depiction of its depth, beauty, and originality, which shines to this day. Being a few months shy of the title's 10th anniversary in japanese arcades, nothing would feel more right than an excellent port to next gen consoles, along with some proper netcode to make old and new fans alike see what makes MotW shine.

Sadly, it doesn't seem as big a deal to SNK.  There's little to no improvements, care or nice extras here. Visually, the pixels remain the same. You can either grow to love or hate MotW's sprites, but despite being over a decade old, they still show tons of detail and charm. Filters are available (like many of SNK's fighters ported to the PS2 in recent years) to alter between gritty sprites or smoother edges for HD screens. The game's ratio remains locked in 4:3, with generic MotW art on the borders to fill in the gaps, and no option for HD hungry gamers to fill in the screen. 

It's still the same gut-wrenching close matches, spine-tingling supers, and incredibly interesting characters. The same roster of 14 fighters return. To some it might be a bit of a downplay coming from newer titles like Street Fighter IV's 25 characters or even SNK's own King of Fighters XI with a 45+ roster. To be fair the small catalog of eccentric characters just opens up more depth in battle. Staples such as the T.O.P. system (a customizable section of the player's health bar), Just Defends, and S and P-Power Supers make a return.

You can either grow to love or hate MotW's sprites, but despite being over a decade old, they still show tons of detail and charm.

So it's the exact same game from the Neo Geo version. Is that a bad thing? No.  No game should be penalized for keeping with its roots. It's the netcode that's the problem. Online play for Garou on the 360 is abysmal, with some of the worst netcode seen in any fighting game in recent memory. With either Player or Ranked Match selected, lag will pollute your games, with one to two second input delays in certain cases. Being the host seems to resolve these issues, but at the cost of clients suffering bitter lag death.

Essentially, it all boils down to whether you can muster up enough friends to play some local matches on an import PS2 copy. Because if you can (or already have), then there is little reason to pick this up. With poor netcode and a sloppy controller to play it with (get serious and use a stick), Garou: Mark of the Wolves is a kickass 2D fighter held back by some unfortunate technical limitations.

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