SNK Heroines was one of the unexpected announcements at a Nintendo Direct earlier this year. It was a game that featured an all-star cast of female fighters from the SNK gaming universe starring the likes of Fatal Fury and King of Fighters. It indicated the potential to be another new King of Fighters and since the game was announced for the Nintendo Switch, it was the first time fans would get the chance to experience a brand-new fighting game from SNK on their platform.
On the surface, SNK Heroines remains a sound idea because delivering a game focused on female fighters could work, however sadly, in this case, the female representation was merely window dressing and while this was intentional as clearly explained by the developers of the game, it still feels like in bad taste. The primary culprit over here is the story because it is so unpleasant I was just gobsmacked by it. As crazy as it might sound, the story deals with a mysterious figure who rules a mansion. He has spy cameras positioned everywhere and utilizes them to occasionally take a peek at the female fighters.
Consequently, how did these fighters end up in this mansion? This is never properly explained in the game, however, if you play as the feminine version of Terry Bogard, it is made clear that this was merely a dream for them since he wakes up from his slumber after unconsciously falling from bed during his sleep. So this is all just a dream for them, but it is used as an excuse to gather these fighters into basically going into a catfight with skimpy outfits. I am all in for fan service that does it tastefully, but it is here I felt it was a bit too much.
The gameplay portion and the actual fights in SNK Heroines are conceivably its most disappointing aspect. Fighting games need to offer tight controls and precise moves but here the combat has a certain jank to it that is hard to shake off. I have no idea whether it was related to the Nintendo Switch or if this was equally frequent on the PS4, but connecting combos and executing special moves doesn’t look fluid at all. To top it, the combo system is fairly basic. There are no timed special moves needed and you directly execute them with the press of a button combined with the dpad. It simplifies the fighting to the point that it is possible to win the matches by simply performing a low combo followed by a special move.
The enemy AI has a certain difficulty meter that can be tweaked from one to five. The default difficulty is set to three, but it is far too simple at this setting. Even at the highest difficulty level, it is effortless to win most of the fights in the story mode. Speaking of the story mode, it is a simple mode that lacks a proper narrative. There is no effective story exposition in the middle and instead, you get specialized cutscenes for the opening and ending with meaningless dialogue depending on the combination of fighters picked for the story mode.
The mysterious villain of the game turns out to be Kukri. He is also the final boss fight and aside from occasionally popping up in cutscenes after every fight to take a perverted look at the fighters, he serves no other purpose in the story. His fight can be slightly tough compared to other fighters, but it is still easy if you can figure out his attacks. It is completely possible to finish the story mode within 10 minutes since fights last for such a brief amount of time.
One of the key reasons why this typically happens is because you don’t have to go through multiple rounds. There is no normal health depletion traditionally used to end fights here, and instead, once the health meter ends, the fighter finish up in a stunned state temporarily during which you have to land a special finishing move with the right trigger. This move will require you to extend your special meter up to a certain point and once you efficiently execute it, the fight simply ends. That’s it. It is a terrible way to finish a fight and serves no point other than ending it all quickly. If you fail to carry out this special attack and the timer ends, which will rarely if ever happen, then the fight is decided by the player with the most health or super meter.
The tag team moves are used in combination with canceling attacks to chain together combos. You can cancel attack at any point during the combo to tag in your partner and then follow it through to create a new combo. It is the best part of the otherwise dull combat system. The game additionally offers the choice to use an item that can either deliver you a benefit or affect the opponent. I don’t think it was that important so I barely utilized it in most fights. Your supporting partner will remain in the background and their super meter charges during this time, so the most effective way to end a match is to usually switch to the supporting character and then immediately execute the finishing move.
The bottom line is that if you are expecting a fighting game that offers depth or fun gameplay, this doesn’t come close. It might be from the same developer that released King of Fighters XIV but this is a more light-hearted and casual friendly take on the fighting genre executed terribly. One thing did catch my eye, and it was the character customization. You can unlock many items to customize your character, and they will require the in-game gold currency. You can complete the story mode to unlock endings for every character, and that should give you enough money to purchase at least one different costume for them. There are 2 alternative costumes to unlock, each requiring 2000 gold coins. You can also customize them with items or accessories.
SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy Review (Switch)
Game Reviewed on: Switch
Game description: SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy is a fighting game developed and published in Japan by SNK and worldwide by NIS America for the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 in 2018. It will also be available as an arcade game at a later date
Final Score - 6/10
The lack of a functional story mode and some technical issues with the frame rate bring down an otherwise serviceable fighting game. This is not providing a substitute to King of Fighters, but it is an average fighter for those who are seeking something casual with plenty of fan service moments.