`Garou Mark of the Wolves represents to me fully what the Neo Geo arcade and consoles were all about.  Garou Mark of the Wolves?  What the hell is that crappy game?  Well, BILLY!! It's only one of the best fighting games ever released that was highly looked over here in the states around the mark of the millenium because it wasn't Street Fighter, or Tekken, or Soul Calibur, and because it was spawned by the largely mediocre Fatal Fury series late into the Neo Geo's lifecycle when the company was in shambles and public arcades were starting to dissappear.  But wasn't the Neo Geo just an arcade side attraction and for rich snobs who were able to purchase the home console with games that cost 200-300 dollars a piece?  Billy, EAT IT!!  SNK's Neo Geo wasn'f for everyone, and those who got it, really really got it.  The Neo Geo was the definitition of the arcade video game experience in whatever form it took, including it's home incarnations, but please forgive and stay away from the Neo Geo CD, the load times were the worst in gaming history!  Well if the Neo Geo and SNK are so great as you say why are there no Neo Geo consoles or arcade games anymore?  The King of Fighters series seems more like The King of Shitty Fighters to me these days.  Seriously Billy, Fuck You!!  Just stay away from the Neo Geo and any similiar sort of arcade gaming experiece.  SNK in it's heyday fully represented the Otaku arcade culure to the fullest!  TO THE FULLEST!!  It wasn't for pussies who didn't know how to use a joystick.  You know the type.  The one's when handed a 10 pound joystick it's all slipping through their fingers and constanlty look for the directional pad on the stick.  Oh Brother!  Garou Mark of the Wolves was one of the Neo Geo's crowning experieces.  Everything about Mark of the Wolves was incredible –  The Characters,  The Fighting system,  The Awesome 2D Art Style,  The Music!… The Music!  Whenever I hear the main theme "Spread The Wings" for the main character Rock Howard on his stage I can't help but get pumped and ready to kick ass.  It's one of my favorite tracks off any soundtrack.  I would even go as far to say it's the perfect musical track to represent the SNK Neo Geo "Arcade Otaku" spirit.  Can a single song off a game really represent an entire library of games and a whole console?  Good question Billy.  You don't suck that bad.  Not sure, but if so "Spread The Wings" would be a serious contender for the Neo Geo's theme song.


[embed:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UOOgndmBSM ]


There was once an era when True G's (Gamers) had to actually get out of the the house in order to get competitive at video games.  There was no fancy smancy Xbox Live or Steam on the computer.  All you had were your balls, a fistful of quarters, your local video arcade, and thousands upon thousands of foes to do combat with.  The most savage, disgusting, and vile amongst them.  Arcade's flurished thanks to the likes of fighting games like Street Fighter 2.  Coin-op makers like SNK, Capcom, and Midway were Kings.  It was glorious.  Tekken, King of Fighters, Metal Slug, Killer Instict, NBA Jam, Primal Rage, Samurai Showdown, Street Fighter – these are the arcade games we survived on.  The competition was brutal.  All too often the fighting on screen would erupt into fighting in real life…  I once saw a gamer get so distraught over a match of King of Fighters 2000 he took out a violent instrument and ended up throwing his opponent up against the wall and put a hole in his face so big it almost took his whole face off, which then ignited a riot and knife fight.  You couldn't imagine how many motherfuckers got their faces cut up that day.  A coke bottle hit me square in the jaw.  I was just spectating minding my business having no aliances to anybody playing and still had to duck and roll just to get the fuck out of there.  This huge bloke a big as a truck was able to chuck an X-Men vs. Street Figthter cabinet into the air which crash landed inches aways from a gamer who was passed out on the floor from getting knocked the fuck out.  I kid you not, the scene was just an arcade otaku mosh pit of fucked up shit.  Who knows?  If I made a wrong move that day I might not be around anymore.

Don't take me the wrong way.  Most of time the arcades were peaceful though.  It wasn't the norm for the arcade to turn into a John Woo film were guys are are flying through the air getting blasted and fucked up and cut up.  Were you showed up and couldn't play your favorite game because a gamer's brains are all over the buttons. No, No, No.  The scene above was just the rare extreme.  The arcade was a place of fun first and foremost thanks to the likes of Neo Geo and games like Mark of the Wolves.  I loved the Neo Geo arcade cabinets.  SNK was on the ball designing their multiple game slot MVS arcade system which made it easy for arcade opperators to switch out games via big mega memory game catridges.  As opposed to buying a whole new cabinet all you had to do were buy new games.  It rocked.  Neo Geo made it so easy to have something always fresh to play, and if you had the excess money to burn their expensive gaming console the AES brought the arcade experience home with perfect game ports.  SNK was all about the arcade.  Get them to do anything in gaming and they would arcade the shit out of it.  That's just how they rolled.  Just… fuckin'… arcade… badasses…. Nothing less.

Garou Mark of the Wolves pretty much is a sumation of what the Neo Geo was about.  It was one of the last great games on the platform so it used the system's power to it's fullest.  Putting the title with it's beatiful visuals next to one of it's brethren from early on in the Neo Geo's lifecycle it would be hard to believe they worked on the same hardware.  I absolutely loved the game when it came out.  Who knows how much money I've spent playing the beast in the arcade.  I distinctly remembered loving the music on the Rock Howard stage, which until just recently discovered the name of the music which is "Spread The Wings."  It had the perfect energy for action in a Japanese fighting game while keeping a fun otaku aesthetic.  It seemed like it made me perform better whenever I was fighting on that stage because I got so into it.  I would say "Spread The Wings" is the most memorable aspect of Garou MOW.  It's the sound of the Rising Otaku.  Whatever the hell that means.

It's been a long time from the heyday of the Neo Geo and looking back on it Garou MOW continues to be my favorite game title on the plafform.  So "Spread The Wings" continues to make me feel like a badass when I play Garou, as nerdy as that can sound.   I can't even think of the Neo Geo at all without getting an image of Garou, which then makes me hear "Spread The Wings" on the brain.  To me the song will always represent what the Neo Geo was about.  Just that classic arcade experience.  Love it.  Mark of the Wolves has been recently released within the last few years as a downloadable title for Xbox Live Arcade and still plays fantastic.  The online matchmaking latency is a bit hit or miss, but I've still have had lots of fun playing other gamers over the internet, when I can find them.  Nothing like getting into a routine where you are just feeling it.  You just completely chew up the competition over and over and over again.  You get on the Rock Howard stage and let the music float you to victory.  Then you feel like a champion, haha…  You feel like a champion, that is, until some guy from Asia who has played the game for two days challenges you then proceeds to completely own you.  He was just taking a small break from Super Street Fighter 4 AE but politely took the time to destroy you just for shits and giggles…  But that's okay.  That's okay.  It's always okay because you're still the baddest at the fighter against… you know, non Asian guys… And That's Champion Enough!!

Rising Otaku!!!… Rising Otaku!!!… Rising Otaku!!! Yes Billy!!!  Whail it!!!!!  Live it!!!