ACA NeoGeo: The King of Fighters '94 (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Athanasios 28.03.2017

Review for ACA NeoGeo: The King of Fighters

Ever played an early '90s fighting game from SNK Corporation? Whether that was the decent Fatal Fury and Art of Fighting, to the average World Heroes, the developer's creations seemed to always lack that special something, as they always felt a tad… primeval, like the first steps into the genre - although definitely some fine steps… And then came The King of Fighters '94, which mixed together characters from other series, added a couple of original ones, and threw them in three-versus-three tag team battles, offering one of the very few fighters that could compete with Capcom's Street Fighter II. 23 years after its birth, and this wonderful game has entered the world of the Nintendo Switch, as one of the best amongst the ACA NeoGeo collection.

Like the vast majority of arcade hits from the developer, this is a simply beautiful game, so much so that even the 3D visuals of later generations couldn't compete with its hand-painted 2D backgrounds and large, fantastically animated sprites. The surprising thing? It still looks great, which makes the lack of additional visual enhancements in this emulation-like port not matter at all.

There's only one flaw here (more like a nitpick), and that's the fact that, while the roster at hand is pretty large for the time this got released, in terms of design they were not created equal, with some having that extra something that makes them stand out (Mai Shiranui's hypnotically bouncing funbags included), while others are just… there.

Screenshot for ACA NeoGeo: The King of Fighters '94 on Nintendo Switch

Visuals put aside, this is a pretty standard fighting game that didn't really deviate from the formula of the time: light and hard hits, simple inputs for special moves, more complex ones for "supers," and lots of combos to learn. It had a couple of mechanics of its own that were more than welcome, such as an evasion move, as well as the chance to power-up a character by going into a "concentration" stance, but other than those, it didn't offer any really new things… apart from a simple tag mechanic.

Instead of single characters, The King of Fighters '94 offers a selection of teams with three fighters each. Of course, while it seemed to be impressive back then, it's wasn't exactly a very revolutionary system, as it just meant that after a K.O. the next one in line would take a fighter's place, unlike more modern examples that enable combined moves, assists, and so on. The biggest issue with this, however, is how unbalanced these teams turn out to be.

Screenshot for ACA NeoGeo: The King of Fighters '94 on Nintendo Switch

Simply put, some teams rule over the rest, while others are just… useless. Furthermore, since it's not possible to choose your members of the team, along with choosing their favourites, players also have to deal with getting stuck with some less capable fighters. Bear in mind that these are no small issues, as they are one of the reasons why this never managed to conquer the genre. After all, Street Fighter II was not just better, but also far more fine-tuned.

Even despite all these, however, this remains a fine fighter that is fun to this day. Note, though, that it's mostly enjoyable when playing with a friend (get those Joy-Con ready!), as the AI can be way too brutal, and can make things more aggravating than exciting… Although, just like most fighting games of the time, once you learn to exploit the CPU-controlled characters, it all becomes a walk in the park.

Screenshot for ACA NeoGeo: The King of Fighters '94 on Nintendo Switch

Moving on, those who have already tasted one of the ACA NeoGeo line of Nintendo Switch ports know very well what to expect from this one. In other words, this is not an upgraded version, rather one that feels like an emulation of the original arcade experience. This means that, just like with the rest, there is no new content, or any sort of rebalancing.

The only "new" things about this edition are the additional options that come with all games that are part of the ACA NeoGeo "series" of Nintendo Switch ports, which provide the means to make some small audio-visual tweaks, as well as tinker with gameplay elements like the level of difficulty, the timer speed, and so on. In conclusion: a fine, rough diamond in a fine, but unimpressive new wrapping.

Screenshot for ACA NeoGeo: The King of Fighters '94 on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Amongst the ACA NeoGeo line of ports that have been made for the Nintendo Switch, The King of Fighters '94 surely stands among the better ones, although the core game was never close to perfection. Those in need of something better are advised to try ACA NeoGeo: The King of Fighters '98.

Developer

SNK Playmore

Publisher

Hamster

Genre

Fighting

Players

1

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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