07th Sep2018

‘SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy’ Review (PS4)

by Phil Wheat

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SNK have a long storied history of fighting games. From the arcades to the Neo-Geo, by way of just about every home console you could possibly imagine, it feels very much like there have always been SNK fighting games; and because of that their characters are as iconic as those found in the Street Fighter franchise and they’re just as popular among gamers. But SNK, as a company, have had just a storied a history; leaving the video game scene behind in the early 2000s after the end of the Neo-Geo’s lifespan, before being resurrected as SNK Playmore and later renaming back to just SNK in 2016.

In the PS2 era SNK were definitely on somewhat of a roll, with a bevy of re-releases of a number of older franchise titles, remastered for that generation of consoles – King of Fighters, Fatal Fury, etc. But since then SNK’s output has not be so prolific. In fact we’ve had to make do with only a few new SNK games – Samurai Showdown Sen on the Xbox 360 and some new entries in the King of Fighters franchise: two on the PS3 and Xbox 360 (KoF 12 & 13) and the most recent, King of Fighters XIV, on current-gen machines.

Which means for SNK fans, like myself, the hype and anticipation for a new SNK title is immense. Why am I telling you this? Well, given the sparsity of SNK’s output and my love for their games, I had very high hopes for SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy, however in the end maybe my hopes were too high…

Whilst SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy carries the moniker of one of my all-time favourite video game companies, SNK, the game we are presented with here is nothing like the SNK of old. Out has gone the easy to understand but complex to master controls and the balanced fighting mechanics; and in has come big-boobed fan service and a game that – for long-term genre fans – is so easy, even in the most difficult of game modes, that it’s just dull.

An SNK fighting game that’s dull. Now that’s something I never thought I’d write. It’s like SNK decided that a female-led fighting game didn’t need decent gameplay if they made the characters cleavages big enough! OK, so I get that making their fighting mechanics a little more simple, with an old-school 4-button attack system (and one button to block – yes, a BLOCK button! That should tell you how simplified this game is) opens up their titles to more novice players – but why then the fan service? If you want new players to partake in the SNK experience give them what made me, and many gamers like me, fall in love with SNK’s now-classic beat ‘em-up line-up. Not this watered down mess.

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And the story mode adds nothing to the game either. Someone gets all these ladies together to fight… Well not ladies, the “villain” of this piece decides to bring the classic SNK characters – like Terry Bogard – to his pocket dimension and turn them into women to please his own perverted pleasures, whilst seemingly spying on their every move via cameras placed everywhere. A pervert’s dream indeed. Oh dear.

What’s worse is that one aspect of the game involves you “dressing up” your characters by sticking gimmicky items onto their existing outfits: glasses, tails(!?!), etc. What is this? Barbie’s dream house? It’s certainly doesn’t feel like an SNK fighter that’s for sure. But playing dress up is not the real problem. The biggest let down is the CPU opponents, who seemingly perform the same moves over and over, especially in the aforementioned story mode. You’ll either get frustrated that said move is effective, or easily learn how to block/defend it – either way it’s a huge annoyance.

And as for this games “finishers”… Well let’s just chalk this one up to more bad decision making. Taking high-concept finishing moves and turning them into a simple press of a button and direction combo does NOT bode well for the future of the SNK fighting franchise. Here’s hoping that SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy is a blip on the road to the real return of SNK fighters. After all, there is supposed to be another SNK announcement on the horizon in October. But if that doesn’t pan out, we’ll just all have to make do with the 40th anniversary collection in November and the huge backlog of titles available digitally on all the current-gen consoles.

However if you STILL want to play an all-female SNK fighter, then track down a Neo-Geo Pocket Color and a copy of Gals Fighters (also by SNK). You’ll have a damn sight better time with that game than this!

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