Out of my many years writing for Respawning, I’ve had to review a large number of games… From absolute masterpieces to the very sediment at the bottom of the industry; however SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy seems to be able to escape this trend – Escape it so well that it sinks below even some of the worst in the industry, and fester below the very crust of the gaming scene.
Welcome all, to my review of SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy.
Now, it’s important to outline straight away that I am, by no means, experienced with SNK’s franchises or King of Fighters – I have no idea as to who these characters are, their relationships, and their motives and character traits; I wasn’t exactly expecting SNK Heroines to be the game to leap me into the franchise, but at the very least I’m somewhat experienced with similar anime-styled fighting games (Mostly BlazBlue and Dragonball FighterZ); the premise of SNK Heroines is simple, by it’s very nature – The female cast of the KOF franchise have been trapped in a sort of alternate dimension manifesting in the form of an occult mansion, spanning many floors above and under ground, where they’re being spied on by an enigmatic, hooded figure known only as Kukri (Who made his first appearance in King of Fighters XIV back in 2016); Kukri seems to have a bit of a spying fetish for these poor girls trapped in this alternate dimension, as he records their every move and fight, taunting each of the girls to pair up and brawl for the chance to escape this fetishised hellscape…
…The problem is, a lot of the girls here don’t seem to really even care that they’re stuck in god-knows-where; half the characters either just want to fight, have some sweets, ice cream, or just go shopping. I shit you not. Despite the obviously sexualised theme of this game, I was at least expecting a better reason for the fetishism – The game treats all of it’s franchise’s female cast as total idiots, and, as a newcomer, you aren’t presented anything that would make you believe otherwise.
The ‘narrative’ is spread across a single, repeatable story mode that is shared between all characters and all pairings, with only minor changes in dialogue and cutscene format depending on who you pick – Simple stuff really; each run of the Story Mode will last you 6 fights against random AI teams of two, until you reach Kukri, who acts as the game’s final boss; up until Kukri, even after I had totally disregarded the tutorial the first time around, the run-up to him is embarrassingly easy – AI often flops and stands still non-reactive to your commands, even while you’re laying the smackdown on them, even though they should be on ‘medium’ difficulty (Set to 3 out of 5 difficulty levels) – Kukri, however, defaults at difficulty 5 no matter what, and is full to the brim with cheesing attacks that will get you caught in near-unavoidable combo strings; one unique ‘mechanic’ within SNK Heroines is that each fight needs to be finished with a Dream Finisher in order to win… And to pull off Dream Finishers, all you need to do is have enough ‘Spirit’; a consumable resource used for the majority of your special attacks; think of it like the Ki system in Dragonball FighterZ, just pink and filled with sparkles.
Now, the main sticking point for a game like this is definitely the roster of characters; especially so in a spinoff title like this – People crave variety, their favourite characters, and interesting guest characters to join the rumble… Now as you can probably predict, this is another disappointing aspect of SNK Heroines. In the base game, you have 14 characters, and 15 empty slots. No unlockable characters, no hidden team members, no guest characters… Not even any Day 1 DLC characters – Just a disappointing mix of bland and samey characters. There is, however, an upcoming DLC character from the Million Arthur franchise, Thief Arthur, who will be paid DLC a week after launch. Still, this leaves just shy of half of the roster unannounced – Something BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle has employed, and is a worrying trend of recent fighting games.
Whilst I have no complaints regarding each character’s preview artwork, the models for each character leaves much to be desired – Many have glossy gazes, stony faces and clay-like skin textures, all leading to a game that feels more like ‘Barbie beat-em-up’ rather than a KOF spinoff – Something about these models just seem off, almost like they were outsourced to another company to create, as it’s pretty telling when Kukri has the best model in the game. On the topic of artwork, there is a small amount of unlockable artwork for you to possibly get your rocks off to, however it’s all rather paltry compared to other franchises in this genre, especially BlazBlue with it’s literal library of official and fan art covering everything from pairings to sexy pics – The OST and stage selection too is rather tiny, with only a handful of tracks in the game and 7 – Read it, 7 – Stages.
There’s simply not enough variety to keep SNK Heroines from being an even half-decent spinoff to the KOF franchise – Lump it with subpar Handheld performance, running at sub-30fps when in Handheld and seemingly 60fps in Docked, and you have a confused, shallow hotpot of content. The game isn’t just story, however – You do have traditional Versus modes with online and offline battle modes, with party rooms for online play when you want to get all your mates around and wheeze frantically at your favourite girls, alongside a survival mode, training mode and tutorials – Most of which, by the way, are extremely simple and short, matching the control scheme of this game. Simple.
One final aspect of SNK Heroines where I do have to give it credit for is with it’s character customisation – Each girl can have one of three default outfits in one of four colours, with accessories being able to be swapped between all for their head, face, facial paint (Inc. scars and freckles), back, hips, hands and legs; whilst it’s perhaps nothing compared to other titles with anime aesthetics, like the Hatsune Miku games that thrive on this sort of customisation, or even Soul Calibur, it’s a nice touch that I feel more fighting games should adopt; girls can also have one of three samey voices, however note there’s no option for English voice acting, excluding the genderbent Terry.
+ Simple controls lead to an accessible fighter
+ May be more fun with a few friends and a number of beers
– A disappointing lack of Stages, OST choices and fighters
– An extremely lacking roster, with just short of 50% of it missing on launch
So, all things considered, what do I think of SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy? Quite honestly, SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy is about as enjoyable as the sticky, faded, musky magazines (Possibly) under your bed. It smells off, controls a bit weird, and probably should have been thrown out a while ago; there may be some sort of value in keeping it for sentimental reason, but in the end of the day, it’s just another ‘sexy’ fighting game for fans to gush over, even if, at it’s core, it’s nothing more than a subpar offering of cobbled together content.
I rate SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy, a disappointing: