With new information regarding what could have been a Garou sequel, King of Fighters fans eagerly anticipate the project seeing the light of day.
SNK Corporation’s King of Fighters franchise borrows from a legacy of numerous titles under the company’s umbrella, and Garou: Mark of the Wolves is one of these, one that fans still hope to see a sequel to. Perhaps the biggest influence on King of Fighters was its fellow fighting game franchise Fatal Fury, the game that originated the concept of the King of Fighters tournament that would be used for KoF‘s debut in 1994. Development on both KoF and Fatal Fury concurrently resulted in both games sharing characters and even plot elements before the events of Real Bout Fatal Fury made this impossible with the death of longtime villain Geese Howard despite his continued survival in KoF.
King of Fighters and Fatal Fury continue to exist in differing timelines, accommodating characters such as series mascot Terry Bogard, who appeared in Smash Bros. Ultimate, and is as a mainstay in both KoF and Fatal Fury. The Fatal Fury franchise proceeded with its own narrative following the Legendary Hungry Wolf and the battles gripping his home city of South Town. Eventually, Fatal Fury transitioned to the future with Garou: Mark of the Wolves featuring an older, more mature Terry Bogard adopting the son of his biggest enemy after his final defeat.
Garou: Mark of the Wolves switched the focus of Fatal Fury‘s story from Terry Bogard as the primary protagonist to Rock Howard, Terry’s adopted son and the son of Geese Howard. With a whole new cast of characters, Garou took the Fatal Fury series several years into the future to follow a new generation of fighters. Fans of King of Fighters would also see more of these characters in later installments, most recently as the first (possibly best) DLC for KoF 15. To this day, Rock Howard’s narrative from his original series remains unfinished, but fans have renewed hope in seeing the legend continue.
Why King of Fighters Fans Hope For A Garou Sequel
In February 2020, SNK Community Manager Jonathan “KrispyKaiser” Campana spoke with SNK producer Yasayuki Oda and director Nobuyuki Kuroki on an official Twitch stream about Garou‘s history, as well as the development of Garou 2. While Garou was praised for its recent inclusion of fighting game rollback netcode during the broadcast, the stream focused on some of the development behind the original 1999 release and, subsequently, stories about the cancellation of Garou 2. The interview spoke candidly about the game’s progress, dispelling a few myths along the way while renewing hope in the potential of seeing a sequel to the long-dormant franchise.
During the Twitch broadcast, it was revealed that Garou 2‘s development was “only about halfway done“, but Kuroki expressed interest in reviving the series from its cancellation during SNK Corporation’s struggles at the time. Kuroki and Oda would also share concept sketches from the early production of Garou 2, showing new designs for returning characters as well as brand new characters such as an apprentice for long-time mainstay Joe Higashi. These characters remained locked away as concepts alone, with only Joe’s apprentice making a cameo appearance in The King of Fighters 13 more than a decade later.
In expressing a desire to revive Garou beyond the re-release of Garou: Mark of the Wolves, Kuroki put the idea into the minds of the fans. The fanbase now had a reason to hope for a new game in the once-forgotten franchise as it was only in the previous year that SNK Corporation revived the once-dormant Samurai Shodown series alongside King of Fighters with a new game as well as a NeoGeo Collection Samurai Shodown release. The released concept art remained the only true glimpse at what could’ve been Garou 2 for fans, however, until an asset disk was discovered 2 years later.
A Closer Look At Garou 2 & Renewed Hope For King Of Fighters Fans
In July of 2022, Twitter user 2021kduck revealed that they had come across an asset disk containing what was claimed to be assets of the abandoned project. The assets contained on the disk included prototype sprite-work and animations for new moves, new stages, and even some of the work done on several new characters that were to be added to the game. This discovery revived interest and calls for the game’s revival began to grow even louder when coupled with the return of several characters in King of Fighters 15.
As part of the first DLC of King of Fighters 15, Team Garou consisted of three characters that were introduced in Garou: Mark of the Wolves as Gato and B. Jenet made their first playable appearance in KoF since the 2005 release of KoF 11 accompanied by the first canonical KoF appearance of Rock Howard, Garou’s primary protagonist. This DLC marked the first true integration of the Garou storylines and characters in their entirety as previous releases in the series avoided introducing Rock Howard into KoF’s canon. However, with Rock Howard’s first true participation in the King of Fighters tournament, aiming for a win, fan interest in the continuation of his story grew even more as well as interest internally at SNK Corporation.
As the asset disk’s discovery became more well-known, SNK producer Yasayuki Oda shared on Twitter a screenshot of Terry Bogard’s ending from SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy, showing Rock throwing him off of Geese Tower. This tweet was accompanied by the caption, “Is Terry’s trauma MOW2?“, indicating a possible story direction should a Garou sequel come to life. Oda would then tweet, “I think it’s hard for you to imagine, I went back to SNK to complete GAROU,” before asking for “everyone’s cooperation” to make it come to fruition. With SNK Corporation’s current history of revivals as well as their continued focus on the fighting game genre, perhaps this dream is closer to reality than some would think.
SNK Corporation has shown no shyness toward their history in recent years, reviving dormant franchises such as Samurai Shodown once King of Fighters was reintroduced to the world. Even beyond the revival of dormant titles, the development studio has also shown less restraint regarding the revival and return of long-missing King of Fighters characters from their flagship franchise. Oda and Kuroki have expressed their interest in bringing a Garou sequel to their fanbase in an effort to set the finale of Rock Howard’s story over the years, and with Rock’s canon appearance within The King of Fighters bolstering interest in the character alongside the asset disk’s discovery, a return to South Town in the timeline of Garou might be in SNK Corporation’s near future.
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