SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy (PlayStation 4) Review

By Az Elias 06.09.2018

Review for SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy on PlayStation 4

It makes sense SNK would want to get the most out of its newest 3D fighting game engine that was cooked up for The King of Fighters XIV. Before the fifteenth instalment rolls around, though, what better way to delight fans than putting the software to further use in a nutty all-female tag tournament fighter? Thrown into a bizarre scenario, 14 of SNK's favourite ladies find themselves wearing entirely new wardrobes and trying to battle their way out of captivity in SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy.

The King of Fighters regulars will recognise the cast of this rather unusual fighting game, with the likes of Mai, Yuri, Athena, Kula and Sylvie just some of the unfortunate ladies caught up in the madness that a certain someone has wrought upon them for their own twisted pleasure. Perhaps the most hilarious inclusion is female Terry Bogard. Yes, the blond-haired, cap-wearing Fatal Fury bruiser has undergone some impressive reconstructive surgery, losing a little here, adding a lot there, and entering the fray looking cuter than ever. Don't worry; it will all make sense once you play the game...which is, after all, just a game, so it doesn't even need to make sense. Except it will.

Although there is a story mode here to clear up the quirky events, it's really just an arcade-style mode devoid of any score totalling. A few short scenes between each of the seven matches detail things, but don't get hopes up for anything too thoughtful. The premise should already be a clue not to expect much, save for a silly-fun excuse to bring these women together in their newly-acquired provocative outfits. Choosing your pairing offers unique dialogue through the short story, some of which can bring a few chuckles, especially where Terry is involved. These movies can be unlocked and played back for amusement, with the option to purchase different characters to watch with in-game coins, saving from having to pick every possible pairing and replaying the story over and over.

Screenshot for SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy on PlayStation 4

The main draw of the game isn't, of course, the so-called story mode, but some more original scenes involving the characters may have gone a way to make it more entertaining. Besides beating this arcade-like mode with certain pairings to unlock artwork, there isn't much reason to replay it after that, and attention will likely only go towards the survival and online modes. By today's standards, SNK Heroines is pretty light on modes, with the aforementioned story (arcade), survival and online (featuring quick and room matches) modes joined by versus, training and tutorial modes. Granted, most players are going to spend their time in online lobbies, but there is a feeling a time attack and other addition could have boosted the replay value a tad.

Customisation is one of the title's selling points, though, whereby each character can be decorated with dozens of accessories. Face paint, animal ears, tails, wristbands, glasses, hats, wings… Not to mention different voice styles and costumes to equip... There is all sorts available to unlock through prize money to deck your favourite ladies out with. While these custom get-ups can be saved and used in battle, that's not the only place to show them off. There is a whole range of backgrounds and frames to display in what can best be described as a photo mode. Select from a variety of cute, sexy, flattering and even unflattering poses, get the right angle, the right level of zoom, line her up, and snap away for a new profile avatar or share online. It isn't really something a lot of time will be wasted in, but with backdrops like SNK's offices and the back seat of a car, there is some amusement to be had before just finally getting back to fighting with your redressed heroine.

Before covering the actual combat, it is well worth highlighting the excellent presentation values of not just the in-game visuals, but the menus, too - especially the online sections including lobbies. There is a certain level of care that is quite clearly evident in the standard of the menu layouts, with plenty of info readily viewable in lobbies. It simply feels and looks slick, giving a premium quality to the whole thing. Equally great is how characters appear. The move to 3D was not without its issues with KOFXIV, as evidenced by the graphics patch that was soon pushed out, but SNK seems to have got that well maintained now, with the ladies of SNK Heroines looking and moving impressively. While there is still some aliasing that would have been great to iron out, the pay-off is a stable 60fps game that looks great.

Screenshot for SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy on PlayStation 4

The developers have really gone out of their way to ensure SNK Heroines moulds its own identity in the tag team fighting game crowd. A chosen pairing shares one life bar, whilst each of the characters has its own special meter, known as a Spirit Gauge, which automatically rises to fill itself at all times. This is used for special moves assigned to the Circle button and R1 button. Sounds simple enough. With damage taken, however, the life bar shrinks, whilst the Spirit Gauge grows. Therefore, the smaller your life gauge gets, the more you can use specials. There is still a catch, though. Matches don't end when your life reaches zero. Madness! Once an opponent is in the red zone of their life meter, the only way to defeat them is with a Dream Finish (R1 button). This adds a whole extra layer to traditional fighting game combat, where tight matches become all the more tense during moments of players battling to land that crucial finishing move on the other.

There is another element to the combat entirely, though: items. Wait. What is this? Smash Bros!? Well, there is definitely a party vibe to this game, what with the dress-up, the crazy scenario, Terry's crossdressing… Items shouldn't come as that much of a surprise at this point. Break item boxes that appear at a player-determined rate in the arena and your supporting tag partner will throw the item into play. A flick of the right stick decides which direction they are launched into the fray from, with the intent of hitting the opponent or activating some meter boosts to the fighting partner. With two-player co-op, this becomes a more engaging aspect to teamplay, with the inactive player having control over when to use acquired items. Admittedly, it feels preferential to turn items off, particularly when it comes to duking it out online, but when it comes to the more casual bouts, items can be a way to allow the less experienced to have a shot at competing.

Screenshot for SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy on PlayStation 4

In what is very likely a means to get beginners on board, the depth of combat isn't as large as plenty of others on the market, with a very simple control setup that features weak and strong attack buttons that alter depending on how close the player is to the opponent, a special move and throw button, and the finishing move button. There is no crouching or different moves for directional presses combined with weak or strong attacks, with most variety coming from the special attacks that characters have, where some can chain into other moves. Key is learning to tag your partner in at the right moment to make use of their Stylish Meter and recover the other partner's gauge while she sits out, plus cancelling attacks into others, whilst following up on moves and chasing the opponent down after launching or belting them away.

There aren't any crazy directional inputs or even simple Hadouken commands here; and while that might sound far too simple for its own good, SNK Heroines creates its own level of complexity and appeal in the tactical approach to matches. With the depletion of special meter, it requires tagging in your backup at the right time, and the nerve-wracking situation of trying to get that finisher to land, even when the opponent knows it is coming, is a particularly heart-in-mouth moment. One wrong move and a match could be completely flipped into a loss within a second.

Screenshot for SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

There are flashier and more intricate fighting games out there, but SNK Heroines is different - and certainly in a good way. Customisation of the characters is played up, but unlikely to really be truly appealing outside of a few cosmetic items to adorn them with now and again. A few more modes could have really helped bump up the value, but the unique take on tag team combat should ensure this title carves out its own little niche. Tense and tactful matches are what fighting games are all about, and that is most definitely here. It is clear the developers had fun creating this game, so give this one a chance. You'll most likely have fun, too.

Developer

SNK Playmore

Publisher

NIS America

Genre

Fighting

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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