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Review: SNK Gals' Fighters (Nintendo Switch)By Azuardo At 08.05.2020 18:39

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The precursor to SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy is certainly showing its age here, but this cute and chibified fighter packs a punch when it comes to delivering a multiplayer time-waster that makes the most of what the Nintendo Switch has to offer.

Much in the way Zack lured the pretty ladies of Dead or Alive to his exotic island for beach volleyball fun in the sun, a certain someone has convinced the female cast of The King of Fighters to participate in the "Queen of Fighters" tournament, with the top prize granting the winner a talisman that supposedly makes true on a single wish. With Mai intent on marrying Andy Bogard, Shermie keen on a new home for her pet hamster, and Athena wanting her long hair back, each of these combatants has a reason for taking part. Yep, this is most definitely a light-hearted fighting game, which falls in line with the super-deformed chibi visual style of the characters, ensuring SNK Gals' Fighters is crisp and clear on the smaller screen.

Eight characters, with three additional unlockable ones, each have their unique play styles from their previous titles soundly converted, with longer button presses dealing more damaging kicks and punches, and advanced moves executed through traditional directional arc input standards. The common dodge and slam mechanics even make their way into the commands, plus specials that can be activated after building up a gauge, meaning anyone familiar with The King of Fighters series will feel just about at home.

The lack of buttons on the original Neo Geo Pocket Color system means moves had to find other ways to carry over, such as through the aforementioned holding down of a button. It does not help that the standard Joy-Con of the Switch aren't the best controllers for fighting games, and this can make it doubly difficult to register the commands you want. However, given the laidback nature of this title, it would not be wise to expect something that compares to the more expertly designed King of Fighters.

SNK Gals' Fighters is limited on modes, but there is enough to get by when taking its low price tag into account. The core story mode features eight matches that culminate in a fight against the mastermind of the event, whilst multiplayer and training make up the rest of it. In keeping with the silliness of things, items can be earned and used to score an advantage in fights, and a few additional settings can grant handicaps and alter game speed, which is all very welcome for those that want to adjust their experience with other local players.

To offer a little extra value, SNK has gone well out of its way to take advantage of the Switch's capabilities. When it comes to multiplayer, with two Joy-Con connected either side and entering the versus mode, two screens will appear, with the intent of both players holding either side of the Switch vertically, allowing each player to have its own battle screen - particularly handy in those situations where the console cannot be placed down in tabletop mode when out and about. Anyone that does want to prop the system up on a flat surface may do so, though, and as soon as a Joy-Con is lifted out, even mid-match, a full screen will revert, allowing players to duke it out side by side in front of the Switch.

It is the simplest of touches, but it is all instantaneous, and is part of what Nintendo's console is all about. Whilst more technically demanding games may not be able to deliver this function, there is such a plethora of old-school and less intense games out there on the system that would greatly benefit from this feature. Fingers crossed some developers see this for themselves and get inspired!

Capping off the additions to prove this is not a lazy port, a tap of the Minus button brings up a host of options. From a rewind feature that allows struggling players to redo key moments; fully customisable buttons; a digital manual of the original software booklet (spelling errors and all!); and a multitude of display options that include choosing from various Neo Geo Pocket system backgrounds, applying a CRT filter, and zooming in to get a better look at the action, there is no lack of care gone into improving what otherwise would have been a less appealing game. It is a shame the stronger attacks that require longer button presses, as well as some other special commands, could not be assigned to any of the additional unused buttons of the Joy-Con, though.

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Final Score
Few retro handheld fighting games hold up today, but SNK had already done a good job getting the gameplay of The King of Fighters functioning well on the Neo Geo Pocket Color, and [i]SNK Gals' Fighters[/i] still proves fun for some casual bouts in this Nintendo Switch port. A lack of gameplay depth, inability to convert some moves to unused buttons, and confusion in how to unlock characters is a shame, but the additional options introduced, including the excellent multiplayer setup to allow for instant local fights on the go, really make this more enticing, and much more tempting given the price.

6

/10

User Comments
#1 Pixel Zomblina - on 12.05.2020 at 22:24

It seems like a missed opportunity to not take advantage of the unused buttons to finally make the control scheme a bit better. 

#2 Azuardo - on 12.05.2020 at 23:38

Yeah, I'm not really a big fan of having to hold buttons longer to perform the stronger kicks/punches, so the ability to separate them onto unused buttons would have been great. Still, though, the range of new options had to be commended, and I hope more devs thinking of bringing over older games take note!

( Edited 13.05.2020 00:38 by Azuardo )


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