By Eric Young
In recent years, King of Fighters has maintained a following but is severely dwarfed by the monster games coming from Arc System Works and Capcom. With SNK’s latest entry, King of Fighters XIV seeing its last legs, their newest game seems to come out of left field; a female only roster, tag team game called SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy.
SNK Heroines contains several modes and features that are all pretty common in the fighting game scene with a few features being more common in relation to fan service. The combat system is extremely basic but welcoming for casual players to feel more accomplished and placed on an even playing field with players who are more accustomed to competitive fighting games. There is not much depth to the fighters beyond recognizing the range of attacks and how best to grind out a double digit combo. Items are a regular occurrence in the game and provide free hits, traps on the field, or buffs for the player and are picked up on the field but hitting glowing yellow orbs and activated by moving the right stick in the direction you want to release them. Attacks are split between a light, auto combo button, medium attack and a heavy attack, which drains your special bar but lands devastating hits for high damage and multi hit combos. Blocking is delegated to a shoulder button, which allows you to dodge and slide while holding block. Along with block, the shoulder buttons also allow for tagging and launching your Dream Finisher.
Knockouts cannot be accomplished by damage and must be achieved by landing a Dream Finisher, which is a one button special attack that comes in two varieties per character and uses up half of the special bar. To get a player to knockout, you need to reduce their health (which is shared between the two characters on each team) and hit them with the finisher when their health is in the red. The more damage you take, the higher your special bar goes, allowing for more hits and eventually two Dream Finishers. It is a solid risk/reward system and allows for comebacks and inexperienced players to pull out wins just by holding off their opponent long enough.
Story mode ties in with the story from King of Fighters XIV, taking place shortly after that narrative and featuring a select amount of that game’s characters trapped in an alternate dimension in “unique” outfits, and, in Terry Bogard’s case, a female body. The antagonist appears to be Kukri, who was a new character in KoF XIV and the player must fight in a string of battles to defeat him and return to their dimension. As with most story modes in fighting games, it is incredibly short and makes little sense in relation to the characters it is pitting against each other.
The other modes in SNK Heroines offer more to do and more enjoyment. Versus, which ranges from CPU battles to 4 player tag battles where each player controls one fighter. Survival, which consists of a string of battles to see how long your tag team can go before taking a loss. Online battles, which were not active enough at the time of review to get into a match. Training mode is surprisingly deep, allowing the player to customize and tweak everything through the pause menu, including the characters being used, which is a welcomed option for brushing up on skills.
Beyond the gameplay modes, there are options for purchasing costumes and accessories with in game gold earned from playing matches in any of the various modes. The costumes offer the options to use original characters designs from the character’s original/current game or more skimpy outfits which fit the fan service feel of the game. Accessories can be added to any of the costumes and saved for use in gameplay. These items are different than what you would find in Tekken 7, as they do not provide special abilities or attacks. They are purely for aesthetic use… except for the whoopie cushion which does exactly what you think it would when your character is knocked down. These looks can be captured in the games picture mode for saving personally or used as avatars for your account in the game. Other various features included allow you to check your stats for each character and overall record online and locally.
Visually, SNK Heroines is pretty lackluster. Character models are basic in appearance and resemble graphics from early PS3/Xbox 360 games. A similar style can be found in KoF XIV, which was divisive in breaking away from it’s 2D sprites. I likely would have enjoyed the game more if there was more attention given to the character models. It seems like a large oversight in a game that is meant to be more of a visual draw with it’s lacking mechanics and depth in combat. Redeeming elements in SNK Heroines presentation would be it’s music track which is relatively catchy and diverse among it’s stage and character specific songs.
SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy is a solid fighter for parties or casual play but lacks a lot in the depth of it’s mechanics and also features a rather small cast of 14 characters on the disc with at least two more coming as DLC. For a tag game, that is extremely low and leaves little variety, especially with most all of the characters functioning similarly. For fans of SNK games, they may find something to enjoy but there is not much else to find here besides a casual play, fan-service fighting game.