The King of Fighters R2 (Switch)

SNK is best known for their fighting games, and many of their characters show up in their flagship fighter series, The King of Fighters.  For a while, they had annual entries in this series, but they still make new games in the franchise every now and then.  Characters from other SNK games show up in The King of Fighters titles in a tournament, so you’ll see fighters from games like Fatal Fury, Art of Fighting, Samurai Shodown, Psycho Soldier, Ikari Warriors, and more!  So of course there was a King of Fighters game for SNK’s handheld, the NEO GEO Pocket Color.  This handheld came out in the US in the tail end of the 90’s, and for a while I even liked it more than the Game Boy Color.  Recently some NGPC games have been ported to the Switch, so here’s a review of The King of Fighters R2!

Like any other one on one fighter, you choose your character and use button and joystick combinations to pull off moves to whittle down your opponent’s health to win.  The main K.O.F. mode allows you to choose a preset team of three, or make your own team.  Or you can just choose a single character.  I found that beating the game was easier with a single character, because in a team of three you have to fight three others in a row.  After you beat that mode, you unlock “Making” mode, which allows you to pick a fighter and play stages to unlock new skills to equip to your character.  It’s an interesting extra.  Sparring mode is like a practice mode where you can try out moves and such.  Vs. Battle on the NGPC let two players fight each other using a link cable, but they get around that here by having a second NGPC handheld pop up on the Switch’s screen for the other player to choose characters and such.  Neat!  One mode that is not playable on the Switch is DC Mode.  I had forgotten about this, but back then, you could link up some NGPC games to a Dreamcast to unlock extra goodies in both games, but obviously you can’t do that here on the Switch.

Since this game came out 20 years ago, it doesn’t have a lot of the quality of life features that many of today’s games have.  But luckily, there is an option screen that takes care of a lot of that.  You view the action on a mock up NEO GEO Pocket Color handheld (which is weird when you are playing the handheld on the Switch handheld mode), but you can choose to zoom in on the screen to make it much easier to see.  You can also toggle various screen filters, rewind, and view the game’s original instruction booklet.  Aside from the game being slightly too difficult, even on the Easy setting, the only other problem I had with the game is that the translation is so bad in the game and in the instruction booklet that it was kind of hard to figure out what to do in the modes.  But then, SNK was kind of known for bad translations back then.  One neat thing about this game is that they didn’t just cut and paste characters’ sprites and  moves who were in other titles.  They weren’t lazy like Capcom.  While I still like Gals Fighters more, The King of Fighters R2 is still a good handheld classic.  I hope they continue to release other NGPC games on the Switch.  Maybe someday they can release the SNK vs. Capcom fighter and card game, too!

Kid Factor:

The King of Fighters R2 is rated E-10 with an ESRB descriptor of Fantasy Violence.  You punch and kick others who just fall over when hit or defeated.  But the pixelly cartoony characters negate a lot of the violence.  Reading skill is helpful for the text, and younger gamers may find it too difficult.

Just for fun, in the comments section, tell me your favorite King of Fighters characters.  Mine would be Leona, Shermie, Vanessa, and Blue Mary.  Also Ralf and Clark, because they are on the Ikari Warriors team and you know I like my classics!  –Cary

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