Language, Suggestive Themes, Violence
Release Date: September 7th, 2018 (Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4)
Genre: Fighting, Action
Publisher: NIS America
Developer: Abstraction Games
It is about time we got a new King of Fighters game! Well… kinda. SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy is the latest spin-off in the King of Fighters series. It features an all-female cast of characters from previous games in the series, with all but one of them present in 2016’s The King of Fighters XIV. Fans of the series will get to play as favorites such as Athena, Mai, Yuri, and even a female version of Terry Bogard. Shortly after the conclusion of the last King of Fighters tournament, several female fighters are abducted by a mysterious man and forced to fight each other in order to escape. The man is revealed to be Kukri, a fighter from the previous tournament, who has captured the women in a pocket dimension and refuses to let them out until they defeat each other and ultimately, himself. Sounds kinda cheesy, right? It is. But let’s be honest: Do we really play fighting games for the story?
SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy features a 2v2 fighting system, where both opponents can tag their teammate into the fight. Each fighter shares a health pool with her teammate, but they each have their own spirit gauge, which replenishes automatically and allows for the execution of special moves. The game features a very simple button layout that is fully customizable in the options menu. Most buttons change what they do depending on which direction the player is pressing on the controller, and to add further diversity to each character’s kit, many of the moves can be combo’d into each other to create long chains. The only way to K.O. an opponent is to get their health low enough to turn the HP bar red and then execute what’s known as a “Dream Finish,” which is the fighter’s ultimate special move. This ability takes a significant amount of the spirit gauge and can be used whenever the fighter has enough spirit, but since it is the only way to end a battle, careful planning is necessary. Another fun feature is the item system. Unless it is turned off in the options menu, yellow orbs will randomly appear throughout the fight and the fighter who attacks one first gets an item to use against their opponent. These items range from various traps and projectiles to potions that restore health or spirit. The many components in the battle system make this one of the more interesting fighting games that I have played.
If I had to pick a word to describe the visual effects of SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy, I would choose “colorful.” The characters are shown in anime style during character selection and as full 3D models during battles and cut scenes. The stages also have 3D elements in the background, while the fighting takes place on a 2D plane, similarly to many other fighting games in the current console generation. Oftentimes, special abilities are flashy and vibrant while Dream Finishes dramatically zoom in on the character performing them to add substance to the ability. Although quite revealing, many of the character outfits are spectacular. Each character has one outfit by default, with two others that are purchasable with in-game currency that is earned by fighting battles and each of the three outfits has four color variations. Many of the alternate costumes are based on the original game each character is from, which is a neat touch considering a lot of the outfits in this game are unnecessarily revealing. The customization menu allows the player to decorate the different characters with a multitude of accessories ranging from angel wings on their back, to a clown nose, to a mushroom on their head. With over 100 different accessories, there are no limits to the imagination when it comes to customizing your favorite fighter. While the graphics are on par with similar games in the genre, I would say the customization aspect of this game is its high point.
As far as the music goes, it fits with the theme of the game, but it does not particularly stand out. And like the story, we do not usually play fighting games for the soundtrack, especially not this game. With that being said, I feel the actual sound effects were done very well. Bright and colorful special attacks are often accompanied by playful musical tones. A bell continuously tolls whenever one of the fighters’ health is in the red, indicating that a Dream Finish can end the match. To top it all off, an announcer calls out whenever a fighter grabs an item, which gives the game a more “arcade” feel. While the announcer speaks English, the character voice acting is completely in Japanese, with many of the voice actresses reprising their roles from earlier entries in the series, and subtitles are available in five different languages, including English. Personally, I do not mind that the voice acting is in Japanese because it fits so well with the anime nature of the game, although the subtitles do not stay on the screen very long. Luckily, any cutscene the player has witnessed is replayable in the gallery menu. While none of the audio is extraordinary, the sounds of this game fit the tone quite well.
To summarize, SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy is a fighting game with mildly okay gameplay featuring female characters typically wearing very little clothing. So let us call it what it is: fan service. If we were looking for a fighting game with a diverse cast of characters and amazing gameplay, we would probably be looking at a main entry in the series. This one is a spin-off that highlights beautiful anime-style women and a multitude of customization options for their appearance. There is a jiggle effect that is very prominent, but not too overbearing. It is a passable fighting game that gives you something pleasant to look at. Like I said: fan service. I am perfectly fine with that though. (Justin Singh; Game Reviewer)
Review copy provided by NIS America.