SNK Heroines ~Tag Team Frenzy~ (Switch) Review

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Title: SNK Heroines ~Tag Team Frenzy~
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Developer: SNK/Abstraction Games (Switch version)
Publisher: Nippon Ichi Software America/SNK (Japan)
Release Date: September 7th, 2018 (NA)

Review copy provided by Nippon Ichi Software America

After seeing big success from the Neo Geo games on Switch via Hamster’s Arcade Archives line-up, SNK has brought its newest fighting game to Switch! This game stars an all-female cast of familiar characters from SNK franchises such as The King of Fighters and Fatal Fury. How does this game fare on Switch? Is it a knockout or a bust? Let’s find out!

SNK Heroines is the newest fighting game from SNK, who also created other franchises such as The King of Fighters, Metal Slug, Fatal Fury, etc. This game exclusively stars many familiar female character from such franchises. The game is a 2.5D fighting game similar to games like the recent Street Fighter games like IV and V.

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A look at a battle in the game with Athena and Kula against Mai and Yuri.

Combat is pretty straight-forward, you have your weak attack with the Y button, your strong attack with the X button. B is your throw, and A uses a special attack that uses a bit of your spirit gauge. Your spirit gauge is actually most important for a crucial technique; the Dream Finish. This is a literal finishing move, as the only way to actually defeat your opponent is to land a hit with it when their health meter is almost empty and is red. Your spirit gauge is divided into bars and top out at 5, with the Dream Finish using 4 it seems. The gauge auto-refills after use, and will refill faster if you swap characters with the ZR button and let your character rest in the side-lines.

One common mechanic that I REALLY dig and find it’s super necessary to master is the dodge technique. This is activated by holding L to guard and then tapping left or right in the direction you want to roll towards (with the left stick or the d-pad), evading an attack. Sound familiar? It’s exactly how it works in Super Smash Bros.! The game even has that “safe landing” technique in Smash where you tap L when you’re about to hit the ground and you’ll roll to safety. Once I realized this, it was a legit game changer. That’s stupidly obvious you say? Well you’re talking to a fighting game n00b so there! 😛

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Athena using her Dream Finish technique.

In the game’s story mode, you pick two fighters and then go through 7 total fights. The first 6 are against pairs of playable characters, with the last one being the final boss who is your captor in the story. The story isn’t anything to write home about. The captor (named Kukri) just holds the two of you captive and you must fight your way to freedom essentially.

The first 6 fights are of fair difficulty, the issue is the massive difficulty spike that happens upon fighting Kukri at the finish (who BTW fights alongside a clone of himself). I find I’m decently able to beat all 6 prior opponents straight, but then end up losing to Kukri two dozen times. It’s absolutely nuts so be VERY prepared. However, you have infinite continues, so you’re not penalized for the losses. In fact, upon winning a fight, you get gold for your troubles, and with each consecutive win, your earnings go up by 100 (so 200 for two wins in a row, 300 for 3 in a row, etc). Even a loss gets you 100 gold, so you’ll end up stacking gold by the end anyway.

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Athena and Kula in the beginning of the story mode.

Gold is used to buy many things in the game, such as costumes, voice files, songs, accessories, videos and cutscenes, etc. A lot can be unlocked for free by playing the story mode with specific characters. You can also unlock all the player songs by viewing each character’s accessory page funny enough. The other thing to note is that you need to play the story with unique pairs to unlock the pair’s unique cutscenes, such as with Mai and Yuri, and Athena and Kula, etc. Every combination exists, and to get the cutscenes for free you have to go through them all. But of course buying the cutscenes is an option as well. Same goes for the credits. Each character gets a really nice 2D slide-show ending during it, and can be viewed in full-screen upon unlocking them. Some are ridiculously cute (such as Mui Mui’s)!

The game also supports local and online multiplayer, basically a necessity for any fighting game today. I can’t test it, but it appears you can play with multiple Switch units locally as well! There’s also a survival mode where you fight against waves of enemies, which can be played in 2-player co-op as well.

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A look at Yuri’s accessory page.

Visually the game’s a mixed bag. In terms of raw graphics the models, lighting, etc look good enough. However the resolution does seem to be 720p docked. Worst of all, the framerate is 30fps, with only pockets of 60fps during cutscenes. The framerate during the fights do seem to be locked at 30fps though, so it’s smooth, but not the 60fps hardcore fighting game folks would want. I found the game perfectly playable and enjoyable despite that though, and I think other people will as well.

Audio-wise, the voice-acting is entirely in Japanese… except for the narrator/announcer who speaks out the title screen and every menu item, as well as the intro and ending of a fight. It’s odd but I dig it! All cutscenes are subtitled though so you’ll get to know what each character is saying, so don’t worry about that. Of course in-battle speech isn’t but it’s not a huge deal. Maybe someone will translate said quotes at GameFAQs or something in the future (hey remember when people used to use that site for walk-throughs? I did! :D).

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Kukri’s got style, Kukri’s got grace, bu-bu-bu-bu-but his hood hides his entire face!

I should also address the elephant n the room and that is the game’s obvious sexual nature.  There’s a lot of minimal clothing (numerous character do get their classic outfits as alternate costumes like Mai and Yuri), but I don’t think it’s super “in your face” as some other franchises might be. The characters do acknowledge their outfits during the story so that helps. Keep this in mind if this is your thing or if it puts you off the game. It’s there, but I think it’s not as bad as it looks in my personal opinion.

Overall I was surprised at how much I was enjoying it despite the difficulty spike. I still have a lot of work to do in polishing my skills (I haven’t gotten super deep into a traditional fighting game since Dragon Ball Z Budokai 2 on GameCube). I think there’s a lot folks will like about the game. I’ve seen some reviews say the game’s light on content, and I suppose that’s true, but I think it’s good enough. But yeah, it seems the most mileage is for folks who intend to play with other people, locally or online. It’s worth noting that there will be more characters added as DLC in the future, such as Thief Arthur from Square-Enix’s Million Arthur series.

You’ll Love:
+ Visually it’s good enough. Models look good enough as are the lighting and effects. Performance during fights is smooth overall.
+ Subtitles help folks understand what the characters are saying during cutscenes.
+ Music sounds good. Vocal songs are of course in Japanese but I like them enough. Nothing terribly memorable, but it livens things up at least!
+ A nice quantity of playable characters out of the box, with more to come as DLC.
+ Simple combat to learn and hard to master which is the way I like it.
+ The initial 6 fights in the story mode are fair in difficulty and help ease you into things.
+ A wealth of modes to help you out, such as a full-blown tutorial mode, so it really helps newcomers.
+ Lots of customization with the accessories and 3 costumes for each character (you have to buy two of them for each).
+ The game’s super light-hearted and absolutely doesn’t take itself seriously. In fact the villain Kukri is quite hilarious and you’ll see why if you beat him!
+ Infinite continues during the story mode is absolutely appreciated.
+ Has screenshot and video capture support.

You’ll Hate:
– The difficulty spike when facing Kukri. Be very prepared to lose countless times.
– The framerate being 30fps during 99% of the time in cutscenes and always during fights will turn off a lot of people.
– I would’ve appreciated English voice-acting, but it’s something I can live without, it’s not super story-driven so that helps.
– Aside from the customization and training mode options, there’s not a whole lot for folks who only want to play alone will come back to. This is more for multiplayer really.

Score: 8/10

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