Thursday, September 6

Review: SNK Heroines - Tag Team Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]


The fighting game genre has been through a lot over the years and as the times have changed it has tended to evolve in some areas while staying a bit still in others. Certainly where the portrayal of women has been concerned it’s been a bit dicey between impractically-clad warrior maidens and all manner of tarted up schoolgirls. While most series seem to keep their roster diverse, just throwing in a few women with varying levels of skin among the various men, SNK Heroines has instead decided to go all in, creating a game that is somehow both a bit sexist but also providing the means to tone things down and perhaps be a bit empowering.


Pulling in a collection of warriors mostly from the recent King of Fighters series, but peppering in a few more like the notably gender-switch Terry Bogard from Fatal Fury, a bizarre character named Kukri is the puppet master behind this tournament. You’ll choose your pair of fighters from the current roster of 14, then having the ability to switch between characters over the course of the fight. The controls are surprisingly stripped down, perhaps a little too much so, with single-button plus specials and finishers. In a somewhat Smash-like move you’ll need to take down your opponent’s stamina to the point that executing a finisher will knock them out. This does open the door to late rallies and surprises if someone misses or uses their finishers too early but also can make matches feel a little too fast since they’re played in a single extended round.


Since the fighting action itself is an acquired taste, a bit on the easy side, the most notable feature outside of the fighting is the ability to buy new outfits and accessories for your fighters and then dress them up more to your liking. In what’s perhaps the most bizarre move in this area is the fact that most of the currently-available (I would anticipate DLC will be coming) outfits for the fighters cover them up more than their default costumes do. Beyond that accessories will allow for some refinements, adding various bits of gear to personalize your fighter. While I’m not entirely who all this is for, I’ll give them credit for doing something very different.


The likely biggest point of contention for people will be the choice to go somewhat dumbed down in terms of the moves here. Accessibility to a wider potential audience may be nice but I very much doubt even moderate fighting purists will enjoy the watered down systems in play here and I’ll certainly admit that using the L button for blocking isn’t something I was fond of. The flow of combat is quite different though and people will inevitably find room for some nuance somewhere within it so ultimately it will be up to the general community to decide its fate. Since the single-player campaigns never really last too long and there’s only so much you’ll want to grind for coins to unlock more goodies multiplayer is your best bet to getting longevity but for now local will seem to be your best bet since what few online matches I’ve been able to get into simply haven’t performed well. This can and should likely get a patch but given the control choices in play it will also remain to be seen how robust the online play community ends up being for the title.


Precisely what the target audience may be for this fighting game is hard for me to say, its weird dress-up elements not being quite as controversial as the watered down mechanics of it all. The thing is, if for whatever reason you get a kick out of the ability to customize your fighters looks to a degree this unique feature (or at least the all-female roster) may well be a selling point. Overall it’s just a decent fighter up against a pretty wide spectrum of titles from more traditional to modern and more hardcore to mainstream, sitting somewhere roughly in the middle across the board.


Score: 7.5

Pros:
  • An all-female roster, if you’re into that
  • Accessible controls that don’t require a great deal of knowledge to get rolling with
  • The customization features are absolutely unique within the genre


Cons:
  • As with all fighting games you really need friends or family to play with locally to maximize enjoyment
  • The rate you’ll unlock costumes and accessories will be a bit on the glacial side as matches are stingy with coins
  • Possibly will be met with reactions from “not thrilled” to disgusted if people encounter you playing it