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The first instalment, Savage Reign (1995), was an hotchpotch of pretty much every popular fighting game series on the Neo Geo, featuring weapon-based combat, large scaling sprites, the ability to switch between the background and foreground, gimmicky and booby-trapped arenas along with a much bigger emphasis on ranged attacks. However, the game's stiff controls and dated graphics did not compare favourably to other fighters released around the same time, leading to it being ignored by many.
Just a year later, the sequel Kizuna Encounter: Super Tag Battle came out. It ditched the plane-switching and gimmicky stage design in favour of a Tag Team battle system (indeed, one of the very first fighters to feature one), and a much more Combo-friendly system than its predecessor. It is by far the more popular of the two games.
Set in the futuristic Jipang City (which is rumored to be an upgraded version of Fatal Fury and Art of Fighting's South Town), the plot of the series has a mysterious legendary fighter known only as King Leo emerge from out of the shadows of secrecy. Seeking a potential challenge in his own opportunity, he organizes the Battle of the Beast God fighting tournament, promising humongous wealth and fame to the victor. Out of the nine contestants that enter the competition, Sho Hayate is the winner. The tournament is then renewed a year later with a new rule, in which two fighters must join forces and work together as a team in order to gain victory in the new tournament.
The series contain examples of the following tropes:
- Two and a Half D: Savage Reign allows fighting in both the foreground and background like Fatal Fury, with the background always being on an higher elevation.
- Action Girl: Carol and Rosa (they double as The Smurfette Principle for the respective games they originated in)
- An Ice Person: Mezu
- Arranged Marriage: Carol's reason for taking part in the Beast God tournament in Savage Reign is to annul a marriage deal made between her father and King Leo.
- Ass Kicks You: Carol's background entrance has her smacking her opponents with her butt.
- Badass Grandpa: Chung
- Battle Boomerang: Hayate is the sole practitioner of the "Fu'un-Ken" fighting style, which combines karate with the use of a boomerang. Yeah.
- Body Double: King Lion to King Leo. As it turns out, he is looking to replace his boss.
- Bonus Boss: Jyazu in Kizuna Encounter.
- Carpet of Virility: Gordon, to a fairly disgusting extent.
- Combo: Kizuna Encounter's bread and butter. Combos exceeding 50 hits are readily available.
- Compilation Rerelease: Fu'un Super Combo on the Play Station 2, which contains both games along with arranged soundtracks, color edit and online play. However, it was only released in Japan.
- Continuity Nod: The wrestling company that Eagle works for (SWF) is the same one used in the SNK wrestling arcade game 3 Count Bout. Also...Chung's backstory states that he had gotten his cap from a man known only as The Legendary Wolf when he was young.
- Cool Big Sis: Rosa to her younger brother and her friends.
- Cool Shades: Kim Sue Il
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Nicola is one of the two characters not to return in Kizuna Encounter, and unlike Carol, doesn't have any further cameos in the wider SNK-verse, save for a KOF artwork depicting him stuck in a tiny locker room full of other SNK nobodies.
- Darker and Edgier: Kizuna Encounter, somewhat. The ridiculous character design hasn't been toned down but the silly pre-fight conversations have been removed, the backgrounds are grittier and less colourful and some of the endings are quite dark.
- Dead Little Sister: Gozu and Mezu's motivations for entering the tournament is to avenge their dead brother.
- Donut Mess with a Cop: Gordon. Nearly all of his pre-fight conversations in Savage Reign involve donuts.
Hayate: I can't believe my taxes pay for your donuts!
- Eagle Land: As Hardcore Gaming 101 puts it, Eagle's design is violently American. However, he is portrayed positively.
- Eighties Hair: Sho Hayate, Rosa.
- Everyone Looks Sexier If French: Carol.
- Expy: Kim Sue Il has an uncanny resemblance to a certain Taekwondo master, though SNK claims the two Kims are not related.
- Chung is Master Roshi from Dragon Ball, no ifs, ands or buts.
- Fingerless Gloves: Chung, Nicola, and Rosa each wore pair of these. Carol wears one for her sleeved arm.
- Game Breaker: The two SNK Bosses of Kizuna Encounter are playable with a cheat code. They are predictably this.
- Guest Fighter: Hayate and Jyazu show up in The King of Fighters XI as mid-bosses/playable characters while King Leo (and King Lion) appear in Neo Geo Battle Coliseum.
- Hairy Hammerspace: Carol has seemingly an unlimited supply of Olympic gym balls from within her own hair.
- Head Swap: Mezu, Gozu and Jyazu.
- Ill Girl: Gordon's daughter, Canbee.
- I Will Find You: Eagle is determined to locate his missing older brother and suspects that King Leo may be him.
- Memetic Mutation: Hayate's infamous scream in the intro of Savage Reign.
- Monster Clown: Joker.
- Ninja: Gozu and Mezu.
- No New Fashions in the Future: Apparently, early 90's style fashion will be all the rage halfway through the 21st century.
- Playing with Fire: Gozu
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Gozu and Mezu, especially by the indication of their costumes.
- Sexy Backless Outfit: Carol
- She's Got Legs: Carol
- Shout-Out: So there's a crazy criminal clown called Joker and the local police officer is called "Gordon"... where the hell is Batman when you need him?
- Nicola's "Power Frisbee" looks exactly like a scaled-down version of Captain America's shield.
- SNK Boss: Well duh.
- Spell My Name with an "S": The uneven translation of Savage Reign switch between romanizing the ninja organization's name "Jaga" (邪呀, "evil fang") as "Jaguar" and "Jagger".
- Stout Strength: Gordon's got an insanely massive gut, but he's also got extremely developed arms.
- Surprisingly Good English - King Leo speaks perfect English (Well, as perfect as early SNK can be) courtesy of John Hulaton. King Lion on the other hand speaks Japanese.
- The End - or Is It?: Reaching the Bonus Boss in Kizuna Encounter shows a cutscene where Jyazu impales King Leo with his own sword. After the credits, a stinger shows the still-alive King Leo pick up his sword and say "Hey hey hey... I'm not dead yet!".
- Teen Genius: Nicola claims to have an I.Q of 300 and gratuated from University when he was 13.
- Three Round Deathmatch: Played straight in Savage Reign but averted in Kizuna Encounter, in which the defeat of one character would end the whole match no matter the state of his teammate.
- To Be a Master: Even with his victory over King Leo, Hayate feels that he hasn't mastered the full strength of Fu'un-Ken and therefore...he embarks on a journey to get stronger so that he can one day use the true potential of his fighting skill.
- Wrestler in All of Us: Eagle, which is no surprise considering that he works for the SWF (Southtown Wrestling Federation).