Ryuji Yamazaki in The King of Fighters 2003
|Series||Fatal Fury series|
The King of Fighters series
SNK vs. Capcom series
|First game||Fatal Fury 3: Road to the Final Victory (1995)|
|Voiced by||Kōji Ishii|
|Fighting style||Deadly Brawling Arts|
Ryuji Yamazaki (リュージ・ヤマザキ Ryūji Yamazaki, sometimes written as 山崎 竜二 Yamazaki Ryūji) is a video game character appearing in Fatal Fury series and The King of Fighters developed by SNK Playmore (formerly known as SNK). Yamazaki is first introduced as the sub-boss character of Fatal Fury 3: Road to the Final Victory, where he is a criminal known as "Dark Broker". In the game Yamazaki hired by the Jin brothers into recovering their sacred scrolls able to give immortality to its user. In following titles from the series Yamazaki does not work for anybody, normally making crimes just to entertain himself. He has also become a character from The King of Fighters, in which participates in the annual tournaments from some games being hired by the Southtown crime lord Geese Howard.
Yamazaki's introduction in The King of Fighters series was made as a result of three popularity polls developed by three video games journals in which players voted which character they wanted to see in The King of Fighters '97, the upcoming game from the series at that time. Yamazaki has also appeared in the crossover games Capcom vs. SNK: Millennium Fight 2000 and Capcom vs. SNK 2 as a playable character. Video games publications have commented on Yamazaki's character, with some praising his introduction in Fatal Fury 3 and development in titles from The King of Fighters. However, other reviewers criticized how hard defeating him is in the Fatal Fury games and how strong he is in Capcom vs. SNK: Millennium Fight 2000 in comparison to other popular characters.
Yamazaki has black hair, but above his forehead it is blonde. He has a total of two outfits, both with black clothes. Before fighting and in cutscenes, Yamazaki sports a white fur coat which covers almost all his body. In Fatal Fury 3: Road to the Final Victory, Yamazaki wears a black t-shirt with short sleeves and black pants. He also sports gloves which do not cover his finger and shoes, both of the same color. He also appears with this outfit in all the games from the Fatal Fury series, the SNK vs. Capcom series and The King of Fighters 2003. The King of Fighters '97 and all the other games from the same series except KOF 2003 show Yamazaki with a black shirt which also covers his neck. He also sports a black sleeveless jacket which covers his shirt.
Yamazaki was raised in Okinawa after and which he developed while growing up on the streets alone fighting against sailors during his teenage years, then as an enforcer for a criminal mob. In contrast with most of the other fighters in combat video games, Yamazaki does not use any particular martial art - he is a self-taught brawler, and uses a wide variety of attacks in his fighting, including unfair and dishonest moves such as kicking sand in his opponent's eyes, and his ever-present knife. He also rarely takes his right hand out of his pocket unless he is using his knife. In order to adapt him to KOF, the game planner had to provide new moves to Yamazaki. The new moves were initially noted to be failures, but designers later thought of them as successful. Yamazaki is a very sadistic person who enjoys violence as well as injuring people and making them bleed. However, he normally hides this madness with a calmer and more confident personality which he has when he is not fighting. As a criminal, Yamazaki started a rivalry with the Hong Kong detective Hon Fu, who becomes determinted to arrest Yamazaki, while Yamazaki does not want to be arrested by him.
Starring in Fatal Fury 3: Road to the Final Victory, Yamazaki is hired by the Jin brothers to help them search for the Secret Scrolls of the Jin in order to obtain immortality. He appears after as a mid-boss character to have one round after the player fights four fights. After six fights, Yamazaki will have a full battle against the player as a sub-boss or final boss depending on the grade average from the player. In the following game, Real Bout Fatal Fury, he competes in the tournament King of Fighters in order to obtain the Jin scrolls for himself. Although a regularly selectable playable character, Yamazaki is one of three final opponents the players face against the CPU. He also appears in Real Bout Fatal Fury Special and Real Bout Fatal Fury 2: The Newcomers as a regular character. Despite not being featured in the first Fatal Fury game, Yamazaki was added to the 3D game Fatal Fury: Wild Ambition, which retells the events from such game, with Yamazaki being against the boss Geese Howard.
Yamazaki would appear in The King of Fighters series as a member of the '97 Special Team in The King of Fighters '97, along Blue Mary and Billy Kane. In the backstory of the game, the three fighters are arranged into the same team due to the manipulations of Geese Howard. The game also establishes Yamazaki as one Eight Heralds of the Orochi Clan. However, Yamazaki has no interest in serving Orochi, engaging the other Heralds in combat. In order to have all of the eight servants from Orochi confirmed by this game, Yamazaki was chosen to be the new member as the staff noted him to be a good villain and liked that he was similar to a snake (as the ancient Orochi was a giant snake). Although the '97 Special Team was disbanded in the storyline at end of KOF '97, the team would be featured in later "Dream Match" (games without storylines) installments in the series such as The King of Fighters '98, The King of Fighters 2002 and The King of Fighters Neowave. Ryuji and Billy would also return in The King of Fighters 2003, only this time they team up with Gato (from Garou: Mark of the Wolves) and forms the "Outlaw Team" in order to conquer Southtown. Although he is not playable in other games from the series, Yamazaki appears as an assistant character (dubbed as "Striker") in The King of Fighters '99: Evolution and The King of Fighters 2000. While in the former he appears as a Striker for every character, in the latter he is the "Another Striker" for Blue Mary. He is also a recurring opponent in the spin-off The King of Fighters: Kyo, normally allying with the Orochi servant Yashiro Nanakase into attacking the lead character Kyo Kusanagi although Yamazaki is only interested in fighting. His character was also added to the crossover game Capcom vs. SNK: Millennium Fight 2000 and its sequel, Capcom vs. SNK 2, developed by Capcom.
Yamazaki is also featured in the volume 7 from the soundtracks series SNK Character Sounds Collection released by Pony Canyon. The CD features several songs based on his character such as monologues and soundstracks from the games in which he appeared. He also appears in The King of Fighters 2003 manwhua adaptation authored by Wing Yan, fighting against Ash Crimson prior to the 2003 tournament, but he is interrupted by Geese. In the tournament, however, the Outlaw Team is defeated by Ash's team.
The character of Yamazaki has been well received by gamers from the games in which he appears, having ranked high in popularity polls from various journals. In Gamest's 1997 Heroes Collection, Yamazaki was voted as the staff's fifteenth favorite character. He shared the spot with Samurai Shodown character, Galford, and Street Fighter character, Ken. In order to decide who would become the members of the '97 Special Team from The King of Fighters '97, three polls were conducted by the videogames journals Famitsu, Gamest and Neo Geo freak, in which readers voted who was the character they wanted to see in the team. Yamazaki was Famitsu's winner. Additionally, the three journal created a team, which players can view an image of them after beating the game in the Japanese port. The Famitsu created a team composed of Chang Koehan, Choi Bounge and Yamazaki. Shane Bettenhausen, Ignition Entertainment's Director of Business Development, commented that Yamazaki is one of his favourites characters from The King of Fighters series, and would have liked he appeared in the latest game, The King of Fighters XII.
His character has also received mixed reviews from video game publications. Kurt Kalata from Armchairempire.com praised Yamazaki's introduction in Fatal Fury 3 as one of the best ones from the game. He also liked his character and considered him as a good replacement for the ones who were removed from that game. William Usher from Cinemablend.com found Yamazaki to be his favourite character out of The King of Fighters series. He also liked Yamazaki's development in The King of Fighters, additionally noting him to be one of the most popular new characters in Fatal Fury 3. Gamezone reviewer Eduardo Zacarias noted Yamazaki to be one of the "powerhouses" from the Fatal Fury series due to how difficult is to defeat him in a similar way to the other boss Geese Howard. In contrast to this Jeremy Dunham from IGN noted that Yamazaki's ratio of three over four (a rank given to character at the time of playing with various of them) in Capcom vs. SNK: Millennium Fight 2000 was "absurd" as other characters who have good movesets in the game like Benimaru Nikaido or Blanka from Street Fighter II had only one ratio.
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- SNK. The King of Fighters '97. (SNK). Neo Geo. (1997-07-28) "Geese: A job well done.../Billy: Yagami's lost. But Yamazaki remains. He's Orochi, that's sure./Geese: I used Mary, too. But losing her was a mistake. What? Who...? You got guts coming here! What do you want?/Yamazaki: You know what! My pay!"
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