My first experience with an SNK fighter was probably in a kiddies area of our local spur and something about the characters has always stuck with me. It was probably The King of Fighters ’98 running on an awful arcade cabinet, but I still remember the intrigue the character select screen brought. Something about the characters just felt so right and, while I’m not necessarily the biggest fan of SNK, I’ve always appreciated how their characters have been designed. They’ve always had an attainable level of cool about their dresses that have made them stand out over the years. There’s no flashy presentation, just solid design, but that’s been thrown out the window for this title. SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy, however, is a very different type of SNK game and brings with it something…unusual. It’s a strange experience but fortunately, it does bring at least something interesting about it.
So, right from the word go, it should come as no surprise that SNK Heroines is a fanservice game. It’s an absurd party game that takes what it wants to do and just kind of rolls with it. The core premise is that a few of the female characters from SNK and poster-boy Terry Bogard have found themselves abducted and now donning some lewd costumes. The cast must now battle their way out of the strange mansion they find themselves in a story that is nothing to write home about. The game plays out exactly how you expect it to with a pervy cringe-fest that isn’t all that entertaining. At the same time, however, I don’t think anyone really expected it to do much more than that. It’s simply there to sort of frame the game and I think the only way to really describe it is as ‘whatever’. It’s there and doesn’t really do anything special. Along with that, there isn’t much else to do in the game outside of the usual versus fighting. There is a rather robust customisation mode if you wish to kit your brawler out specifically to your tastes but that’s a largely hit-or-miss thing for players.
Since they took all the time out to motivate the game’s aesthetic and all that, one would expect the visuals to be something noteworthy right? Since they’re going all in on this, they should really go all in right? Well, it ends up just being very okay in this regard as well. There are bright colours and flashy visuals but nothing really stands out all that much in the game. The cutesy effects are nice and all but they don’t add all that much to the game. I will admit, I greatly appreciated the arcade cabinet coming out of one of Terry’s specials but for the most part, nothing really stands out. Which is a bit of a shame as if they at least polished up things a little more, the game could have been a little more of a joy to play. Fortunately, it does have a redeeming factor and I think this is where the game manages to save itself.
SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy is at its core a party game and so if you were hoping for a deep and technical fighting system, you will be sorely disappointed. However, what it does present is one of the most interesting approaches to an accessible fighting game we’ve seen in a while. Of course, there are the simple auto combos, but it handles everything in a rather interesting way.
SNK Heroines seems to have designed its fighting in such a way that it streamlines what is available to players so that it allows them to play towards a greater strategy.
You are able to select two fighters, one attacker and one support, who you are able to switch out during the fight. There aren’t any assist moves as one has come to expect from a tag fighter, but that doesn’t take away too much from the game. From there you have five attacking buttons, a light, heavy, special, grab and a dream finish as well as a block button. Movement is quite the standard affair, however, there is no crouching which means there are no low attacks in the game. You’re limited to medium and high attacks which, when paired with the fact the game has a block button, might feel like it makes things trivial but you’re still able to make things interesting. With everything that the game seems to take away, it has included something that keeps things very interesting. You are only able to win a fight by depleting an enemy’s health and completing a dream finish on them, which is only the press of a button but still keeps things tense.
SNK Heroines seems to have designed its fighting in such a way that it streamlines what is available to players so that it allows them to play towards a greater strategy. While you still have to get in hits to ultimately defeat your opponent, you have to focus on resources so that when you reach that critical point, you are able to finish up the game. By neglecting to focus on your meter or by just throwing out moves, you allow your opponent to make a comeback which can feel devastating. By simply streamlining the possibilities for gameplay, SNK Heroines forces players to learn more nuanced strategies than just beat your opponent till you win.
This is where value can be found in SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy. While there aren’t many noteworthy features and, to be honest, the game seriously lacks content, it explores accessibility in fighting games in an interesting and unique way that is definitely worth exploring. This is in no way a must-have title and it definitely panders to a certain player base, but at the same time, it still manages to do these interesting things. SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy is a title that if the concept interests you, you should probably check it out and if it doesn’t then you should probably steer clear of it. I just hope that SNK is able to explore the concepts introduced in the game a little further as there is definitely something here, even if it isn’t well realised.