Thanks to NIS America for the review code
Title: SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy
Release Date: 09/07/2018
In this team fighting game, you take control of a team of two fighters from a roster of 14 SNK characters, who were summoned to a strange pocket dimension by a shadowy figure known only as Kukuri. The two chosen fighters must work together to win Kukuri’s fighting contest, and find a way out of the dimension and back to their normal lives!
Similar to most modern 2D fighting games, SNK Heroines uses 3D models for the characters while all the combat takes place on a 2D plane. Right away I noticed that the character models don’t really look all that great, with them coming off as ugly looking at first glance. Luckily in motion it’s easy to get used to the awkwardness of the models, since the game runs at a very smooth framerate. There’s also quite a few customization options to unlock for each character, along with a bunch of accessories that can go on all of them. From alternate voice packs, alternate costumes, to accessories that can prompt different sound effects in battle, such as how wearing pixel art of characters these will make the sound effects all retro sounding and play an 8-bit demake of the victory theme after a battle. The other sound effects are very goofy too, thanks to most attacks doing random things such as making Terry’s Burning Knuckle into a Teddy Bear glove and some characters having candy or cookies come out of their attacks upon contact, along with some cartoony sound effects that play if you hit your foe too many times while their health is critical
Sadly, they didn’t go the extra mile and have the retro sound effects come straight out of SNK Gals’ Fighters, a Neo Geo Pocket Color game that seemed to be the inspiration for this game. It would have made for a proper easter egg and a cool throwback rather than a simple way of changing the style of a few sounds. When it comes to the quality of the game’s actual score, it’s a mixed bag, with all the character themes being remixes based on their prior fighting game appearances in King of Fighters or the source games from which the fighter originally came from, and some of these sound absolutely fantastic, with Athena and Terry’s remixes being of especially high quality. Unfortunately, for some reason I just don’t understand, these character themes never play during battle, since the stage itself dictates which theme plays where, and the stage themes aren’t nearly as good. You can customize the menu BGM to be any track in the game if you so choose, though, which is why I found it really baffling that you couldn’t seem to do the same for the stages.
SNK Heroines aims to join the slowly growing library of more simplistic fighting games, aiming to create a fighter that doesn’t rely on analog stick movements and button combos and instead focuses on using basic attacks and combo chaining to make the most out of things. With a light, strong and special attack button, chaining things into combos to lower your opponent’s health is pretty easy to pick, and in all honesty having come off of Blade Strangers, learning the mechanics in SNK Heroines took no time at all, especially due to how similar the fighting mechanics are in this game, at least when it comes to the main attack buttons.
The main draw of SNK Heroines over Blade Strangers comes from the titular Tag system. Unlike certain King of Fighters titles where all three fighters on a team must be knocked out in order for the match to end, both fighters in Heroines share the same health bar, and lowering their health to zero doesn’t end the match either, making them dizzy instead. In order to actually win a match, you’ll have to use your Dream Finisher move with a simple button press when the opposing team’s health is critical, which knocks them out and successfully ends the match, but your Dream meter is drained with every special move you pull off with the Circle Button, and regenerates over time. This means tagging out with your partner to refill your meter while you use theirs in the meantime is they key to keeping combos and strong attacks going, since you can tag out right in the middle of a combo and continue it using your partner’s attacks if you know what to do. There are also items that you can use with the right stick whenever you break a floating party ball, ranging from poisonous bombs, a wall to trap your opponent against, to items that fills your Dream Meter or health bars a little bit.
When it comes to what kind of content is on offer, SNK Heroines is unfortunately very light. There is a story mode with seven stages to go through and intro and ending cutscenes with changing dialogue for every possible pairing in the game, but only a select few pairings will reward you with a special ending image after beating the story mode. While you do get a cool boss fight at the end against an unplayable boss character who fights you totally solo, there’s little reason to replay this mode outside of unlocking the aforementioned images. Besides the Story Mode, you have Local Multiplayer, which can still be a fun time even with a newcomer due to how easy it is to learn the controls, Survival Mode, which is a standard endless battle against foe after foe, your standard Training Mode, and an online multiplayer mode that works decently enough, since I was able to find someone online to play a few quick matches against.
There’s also a Gallery with unlockable images, BGM and cutscenes, and while the gold coins that you earn after matches can be used to unlock things within this gallery such as extra voice clips, accessories and anything else earlier than intended, (since you can easily unlock all the character themes and voice clips for free by just entering the customization menu with each character once, and by using them in battle once.) there isn’t really much else to unlock outside of the story mode images, (which can only be unlocked by beating the game with certain pairings, as mentioned before.) so don’t expect any unlockable characters or modes such as a Mission mode to be found in this gallery.
In conclusion, SNK Heroines ends up as a fun addition to the fighting genre, with an easy to learn battle system, a decent lineup of characters and a bunch of customization options to decorate your favorite fighters with. Unfortunately, outside of taking the fight online and unlocking all the story mode images, there’s barely anything to do in this game outside of endlessly grind for gold and purchase every last title and gallery image out there, with little that you can actually earn by pure skill save for some trophies related to Survival mode and combos. It’s absolutely baffling that despite a simpler game like Blade Strangers having some form of a Mission mode, SNK Heroines totally lacks it and doesn’t offer much for solo play, despite a solid fighting system. Compared to the other PS4 fighters on the market, this one can only be recommended over the others due to its simplicity and ease of access, or if you’re into the fanservice for SNK or certain characters such as Athena, but with King of Fighters XIV also being a fighter with lots of SNK love and an even bigger roster, it’s really tough to recommend a game that costs more for less.
I give SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy a 7 out of 10.