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CronosBlade avatar 12:16 PM on 02.05.2008  (server time)
Fighting Masters Round 1 - SNK Boss Syndrome - Rugal

Welcome to a possibly new weekly feature if I have the will to do it - Fighting Masters. Yes, the title is taken from one of the shittiest fighting games I ever played on the Genesis.

To kick this weekly feature off, I'm going to start not with a fighting game, but with one character specifically, a "feature" of most SNK Fighters. The feature is SNK Boss Syndrome. The Boss is Rugal Bernstein. You will hate him. Oh yes, you will hate him.

See long before Gill of Capcom's SF3 fame was pissing people off, SNK had decided to make final bosses that were better than you. In every sense of the word. Let's get the web definition of SNK Boss Syndore

1. The characters having unusually high damage and priority in their moves.

2. Annoying, repetitive A.I. which reads the input of the opponent's moves in advance.

3. Can only be beaten with the use of stupid patterns (most of the time).

Rugal is, by SNK's own claims, the prime example of SNK Boss Syndrome. Even on their 10th anniversary, SNK said that RUgal was based on the idea of being the most evil boss character ever. Also mentioned is the fact that he's the dev team's favorite villian which is why he gets to make so many appearances.

Rugal has been a final boss 4 times in the King of Fighter games: 94, 95, 98, and 02. 98 and 02 appearances are "dream matches" and not actually part of the true story/timeline. Arguably the worst version of him is the '94 edition. You have to fight him once where he's mostly passive and doesn't do much. Once beaten, your remaining team and life are carried over to the second fight where he proceeds to rape you. Badly.

Let's look at the points up above one by one, shall we?

1. The characters having unusually high damage and priority in their moves.
Yes. Rugal and then Omega Rugal have both of the above. Tae the genocide cutter. It basically negates any airborne move and nails you. Depending on the version you're facing it can hit up to 5 times. In his final appearance, he even added one extra kick at the end as he finishes it to stop you from thinking about jumping up to punish him. And yes, the damage from the move is insane. His Gigantic Pressure (where he runs the ground, grabs and slams into a corner) is very fast and can catch a character who just threw a projectile. Add in two versions of the move (a normal and super version) and the damage piles on quickly.

2. Annoying, repetitive A.I. which reads the input of the opponent's moves in advance.
True again. Going down the list, reflecting almost all fireballs fired at him. A magical ability to Genocide Cutter as soon as your character jumped. Walking up and throwing. You thought it, Rugal has already countered it.

3. Can only be beaten with the use of stupid patterns (most of the time).
This is true. You see in order to compensate for an overepowered character with insane priority, he was made slightly stupid. That means falling for simple patterns and tricks. For example, jumping and landing just short of him. Rugal would go ahead and do a Genocide Cutter, whiffing completely and allowing you to punish him when he lands. In KOF '02 the AI will allow Goro to do the ground pound to knock him down usually twice before the AI decides to jump on the next try. Another thing to try is that he seems to allow a lot of air attacks based on commands to hit him (doing a move from the ground that goes airborne. You can also get lucky and use a character that trades 1 for 1 with the Genocide Cutter.

In all, Rugal is a fucking beast. Expect your first attempts at him to be frustrating. Once you see the AI pattern he's much easier to deal with, but it's not like you can make many mistakes due to the damage he pumps out.

In closing you'll find a video below dedicated to him. Skip the first minute to see the KOF 94 version (1st and 2nd battles included). At 5:30 you can see the KOF 98 version. Finally at 8:40 you can see the '02 version.

Let me guys know what you think below.

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