70 Years of Geese! – A tribute to Young Geese Howard

“Die like your father, you pin-headed son of an icecream maker.” – Geese Howard, now 70 years young as of Jan. 23, 2023.


I’ve spent the past few years marking Geese Howard’s birthday on Twitter, usually highlighted by his Fatal Fury challenge quote that could only come from a 1990s U.S. SNK game translation. It’s a bizarrely-funny quote, but since I observed his birthday was approaching more in advance than normal, it gave me this time to reflect on the superb attract sequence and presentation of Art of Fighting 2 and the eventually discovery of a really cool variation of Geese Howard.

Arcade space was limited where I grew up, but our small rural city featured a couple of the trademark red Neo-Geo MVS cabinets. Our city never had a proper arcade, but it had plenty of storefronts willing to offer space for two or three arcade cabinets for those with machine routes. This made perfect sense with the commonplace four-slot MVS arcade cabinets as these locations could offer four completely different games while only taking up the space of a single machine.

The local bowling alley was the most prolific of these locations, featuring an MVS cabinet that housed a long line of early Neo-Geo titles that included Ninja Combat, NAM-1975, The Super Spy, Burning Fight, King of the Monsters, 3 Count Bout, Magician Lord and Baseball Stars. That fits a decent range of game genres, but when SNK hit its fighting game stride, most of the MVS cabinets in the area were relegated to three fighting games and Bust a Move/Puzzle Bobble. Locally, those three tended to be The King of Fighters, Samurai Shodown and World Heroes in whatever incarnation was newest at the time – definitely a fun lineup, but gone were the days where you could encounter a cabinet that offered up a wide variety of game styles.

I very distinctly recall the video rental store we had eventually getting a small arcade station, and for the longest time it offered an MVS cabinet and Mortal Kombat II. I do remember Samurai Shodown II being included in the MVS lineup, but the game that always stuck out to me was Art of Fighting 2. The store kept the attract sound fairly loud, and Art of Fighting 2 would always call out into the otherwise silent rows of movie and video game racks.


I would be checking out the newest game releases and then out of nowhere: “DON’T DO IT BROTHER! THAT MAN IS O… THAT MAN IS OUR…” – the vocal pleas of Yuri begging Ryo to stop fighting as it is learned Mr. Karate is their father, Takuma, at the end of the original Art of Fighting.

The cinematic vibes of Art of Fighting during its time were rather unparalleled to other fighting games that tucked the vast majority of its story telling into instruction booklets. The attract mode of Art of Fighting 2 not only wrapped up the loose ends of the conclusion of the first game, but then showed the “characters in distress,” Yuri and Takuma, training up and kicking ass in a sequel. Another attract display highlights the Dragon and Tiger themselves, Ryo and Robert, in action.



This would be capped off by a demo fight that takes place on Ryo’s stage, which features a horse stable. This attract fight didn’t feature music, but it had the horse in the background constantly neighing. If this machine would have been in a proper arcade, I probably would have never heard these presentation elements, but given that specific environment of the rental store, they are standout memories for me.

Notably, this title featured very large character sprites for the time, making Art of Fighting 2 look very enticing during its attract mode. The game also scaled in and out depending on your distance away from the opponent, so there is always something going on that can catch your eye. Then when you really start paying attention, you start to notice the details such as characters’ faces swelling when hit and occasionally accessories such as glasses fall off during battle.

This sequence was burned into my brain as a kid, because it was essentially the definition of an “attract mode” to me. The cinematics and gorgeous characters made me want to watch the game, and it never got old.

Now, being left to only ever play Art of Fighting 2 against the CPU, PLAYING the game was a bit of a different story. Art of Fighting is one of those games where being good at other fighting games didn’t necessarily translate to being good at Art of Fighting.

The series has a fairly polarizing spirit feature, which requires the use of a meter in order to use powerful special moves. This was indeed a unique feature that added a sense of strategy to the game, but some players will bemoan not being able to rapidly shoot fireballs from their fists. If the player is low in spirit, a fireball special typically comes out as a slow, pathetic whimper, which Capcom famously parodied with Dan’s Gadoken special move in Street Fighter.

Art of Fighting didn’t seem to get the magazine attention a lot of other fighters received at the time, so I was kind of lost in adapting to the gameplay. Our group of friends rented the Super Nintendo version of Art of Fighting a couple of times, but it was a series that I didn’t get a lot of experience with when the game was current.


As an adult I have the Super Famicom version of Art of Fighting because look at that cool artwork.

I wrote about SVC: Chaos (SNK Vs. Capcom) a while back, and I noted, while the MVS cabinets were always around, they were never a highlighted feature of the local arcades. Neo-Geo games were the locations’ way of saving space, and they were always just kind of “there” as an alternate game experience because they still offered a game for one quarter compared to most of the other games moving to 50 cents per play. To that point, while I quite enjoyed a number of Neo-Geo games, I mostly played the home versions on my Super Nintendo and never became engrossed in the SNK culture.

This really didn’t start happening until Capcom released the crossover fighting game Capcom Vs. SNK, and the local arcade competition was really spurred with the sequel Capcom Vs. SNK 2. Exposure to the SNK characters in these games snowballed into me checking out SVC: Chaos and Neo Geo Battle Colosseum.

A constant throughout those game experiences was in gravitating toward Geese Howard. I found it exciting that Geese had defensive counters with his atemi uchi throws, which allowed him to get into the opponent’s head if they became too “predictabo.”

Geese always had a stern demeanor, being around to be a thorn in the side of the Bogards from the Fatal Fury series, and since then making a number of other enemies as the universe of The King of Fighters expands. Geese has also served as a go-to boss character for SNK, presenting players with some memorable end-game challenges.


Years after having a brush with Art of Fighting 2, I was surprised to learn the game’s true final boss is Geese Howard. The real treat to this appearance, though, is that the game takes place before the events of Fatal Fury, so we are presented with a younger, more flamboyant Geese.

Art of Fighting 2 Geese Howard is decked out in a stylish suit and flowing long hair – a stark contrast to the slicked back hair and gi with hakama he adorns in nearly every other appearance. Despite the earlier time frame, Geese still has an assortment of his trademark moves that include the reppuken and the deadly rave combination, even if it doesn’t appear he has the stockier frame and stern demeanor he is widely known for.

Fighting against Geese Howard in Art of Fighting 2 requires the player to make their way through the entire default character roster without losing a single round. If the player is successful in that regard, a special cutscene activates where the player’s character is summoned to Geese Howard in an attempt to recruit them to his syndicate. Of course, nobody is keen to accept, so they then enter a fight to the death with Geese.

Geese again earns his keep as a boss character in Art of Fighting 2, boasting incredible agility and powerful attacks. Getting hit with the wrong move will result in the player getting dizzied, and then it is only a matter time before he executes the deadly rave combination to finish the job.

deadly rave

The real bonus of being able to defeat Geese, though, is in extra cutscenes that fill in the story leading up to the original Fatal Fury game. Perhaps it’s only a matter of the English translation, but Geese is presented like a jet-setting playboy, and perhaps this game serves him his first real setback in his bid to control South Town and leads him down the path of being a more serious fighter.

Again, the English translation of the dialog in Art of Fighting 2 is really out there. Geese doesn’t say much out of the ordinary in his role, but in fleeing from the final fight and enjoying his flight to Japan, he is joined by a butler who has some really bizarre dialog bits, including apparently not knowing the difference between assassination and … we’ll call it “self gratification.”

But the real lore tidbits presented in Art of Fighting 2 reveal Mr. Big works for Geese Howard, pinning the conflict of Art of Fighting on him. In the special ending Geese also learns of Jeff Bogard’s efforts to interfere with his plans, setting in motion one of the pivotal plot points of the entire Fatal Fury franchise.


Geese remains blocked behind the wall of being a CPU-exclusive boss character in Art of Fighting 2, but he would re-emerge as a “Young Geese” character in The King of Fighters Neowave – the series’ debut on Sammy’s Atomiswave arcade hardware once SNK moved on from the Neo-Geo.

In the past handful of months, though, I’ve been experimenting with download packs that add a number of cheat functions to the games being played in MAME. As fate would have it, you can control Geese in a limited function in Art of Fighting 2 using this trickery. The way this cheat works, though, is in having the player select a character, and then toggling the cheat will change that character into Geese Howard.

This glitches out the dialog scenes between the characters, but then Geese is presented as normal when the fight begins. Geese has quick and powerful attacks, and can fire off reppukens with a quarter circle back + punch command, a jumping slice attack with quarter circle forward + punch, and a capture and uppercut with quarter circle forward + kick. Geese also has access to the deadly rave combination with the 3412361A+C command.

Unfortunately, in some of the fighting games where a boss character is CPU exclusive, it occasionally seems because this character wins, that means the player has lost and a game over condition is toggled. That is the case in Art of Fighting 2, as winning a single-player match as Geese Howard pushes the player onto the continue countdown screen. It would be fun to run a single-player lap with Geese Howard, but it just isn’t in the cards for this game.


This is what happens if you dare to win a match using Geese Howard.

What I didn’t realize until recently, though, is that Saurus developed and released a Super Famicom port of Art of Fighting 2. This port unfortunately never left Japan, leaving the original Art of Fighting as the only Super Nintendo version we had stateside. I realize the AES and Neo-Geo CD exist, but if it weren’t for magazines and Nick Arcade, I would have no idea these formats existed. Not one time at any point, did I ever see a Neo-Geo home console in any store in my area growing up.

I always felt that companies largely did 16-bit ports of Neo-Geo games justice. That doesn’t even take into account Takara’s fantastic Game Boy ports of fighting games, and, wow, is the SEGA Genesis version of World Heroes (1) a story for another day. Saurus’ effort to bring Art of Fighting 2 to the Super Famicom obviously takes a huge presentation hit, but the game still largely plays fine and doesn’t compromise on features.

All of the game’s characters are intact, the bonus game selections are still included and even the secret fight with Geese Howard remains tucked inside. The game surprisingly has surround sound support, difficulty and round time toggles, along with options to change up your controls. To up the ante, the multiplayer mode now also offers a team mode, pitting characters together in a five versus five elimination mode.

Probably the firmest pat on the back that can be given to this effort is the fact this Super Famicom cart does feature scaling as the characters are far away from or close to each other.

The scaling understandably isn’t close to the degree seen on the super-scaling MVS hardware, but it’s quite impressive it was worked in to begin with. The game is in “normal” view when the players are close to each other, and then there is a slight pan outward when there is distance between the two. It won’t win any awards on how the Super Famicom’s tech is implemented, but it is indeed a nice nod to the presentation of the original version.

More importantly, though, the Super Famicom version has one more feature that sets itself apart from the MVS version: Inputting the deadly rave command while the Saurus logo is displayed on boot up unlocks Geese Howard as a selectable fighter in the two-player game modes!


Two of Geese’s new colors in the Super Famicom version.

There are no big surprises here as Geese still controls as he does when you use the cheats in the arcade version. However, with Geese being properly added to the game, a few extra bits of detail went into this version.

Since Geese is intended to be selected following the code, he now has a short animation when he is selected on the character select screen. Geese adjusts his tie, giving him an extra animation to match the other selectable fighters. Similarly, Geese also now properly has four different color palettes based on the button used to select him.

Furthermore, now that Geese officially appears in the post-match results, he is given a “defeated” portrait that is exclusive to this version.

The Super Famicom version isn’t something people need to rush to the store to buy, especially given other methods available to play the game these days, but it is a commendable effort that offers a couple of items exclusive for Young Geese.

I’m all for Young Geese Howard making more returns to current video games, but we’ll have to wait and see what is ultimately in the cards for him. I’ve always liked the character as he was originally presented, but the contrast presented in Art of Fighting 2 is endlessly fascinating to me.

Happy 70th birthday Geese Howard! Feel free to grow your hair out and relive those Art of Fighting 2 days one more time.

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Categories: GemuBaka Feature, GemuBaka Random


Arcade enthusiast and game collector. Affiliate Twitch retro streamer and games archive writer at Gemubaka (http://gemubaka.com). For business only: gemubaka at gmail


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