SNK has a legendary history with the fighting game genre. While they may have never outshined the staples, such as Capcom’s Street Fighter or Midway’s gory Mortal Kombat, games like Fatal Fury and King of Fighters have certainly found their audience in the fighting game community. So when SNK Heroines Tag Team Frezy boasts a roster of some of the fighting game genre’s best female fighters, it has to be something to get excited about, right?
Fighting For A Chance
It’s pretty much expected at this point that fighting games don’t generally have good stories to tell. Of course, there are exceptions to this, such as the newer Mortal Kombat games and several of the installments in the Tekken series. SNK Heroines Tag Team Frenzy, on the other hand, doesn’t even really make an effort to tell a good story.
So why have all of these legendary characters come together you ask? Well, apparently it’s because of an unnamed villain who wanted to see all of them fight half naked. So he summoned all of SNK Heroines into his dream to fight while he watches. For the record, I am not making this up and the game even acknowledges its creepiness by having the girls refer to the villain as ‘a pervert’.
To make it even worse, the cutscenes (if you can even call them that) largely consist of characters uttering a throwaway line of dialogue while the villain zooms in on their bodies with his security cameras. It was enough to make anyone cringe and by the time the story wraps you are left with more questions than answers.
What’s really upsetting is that there is so much untapped potential for SNK Heroines story. You have characters from several well-respected games crossing over for the first time. It would have been awesome to see these characters come together to fight in an inter-dimensional tournament or even a story that forces them to save their male peers. Instead, the story chooses to demean the women of SNK in a game that is supposed to be celebrating them. It’s not respectful to the fans of these characters and it’s a lazy way to tell a story.
The story mode also lacks replayability, since no matter who you choose to play as it all unfolds the same way, give or take a few lines of dialogue that almost always have no significance. Usually, fighting games have bad stories, but this one really is not worth your time.
SNK Heroines Tag Team Frenzy is more attuned to a party game than your traditional competitive fighter. All 15 of the fighters in SNK Heroines roster have a very identical list of simple button commands to pull off attacks. This is something that I actually quite enjoyed about the game because it makes it very accessible to teach friends who aren’t familiar with fighting game basics.
All commands are executed by simply pressing one of the face buttons and pushing the left stick in any direction. While all characters have a similar command list the attacks executed with these commands are vastly different, giving each fighter a unique feel. The simplicity of these commands means that players can focus on stringing together combos rather than struggling to learn individual moves. However, for more advanced players the combat can get pretty stale quick as there is no real depth to the fighting.
SNK Heroines is a tag-team fighter, meaning that you will be alternating between two fighters in every match. While one fighter is in combat the other stands in the background cheering you on. This is not all they are doing though, as the character not in use will be charging up their super meter. The super meter allows you to pull off a flashy special move that is essential for finishing off your opponent. You see even when your opponents health hits zero the only way to win is by executing a meter burn and landing a super move.
This is a pretty interesting mechanic as it does change the way you might strategize during combat, but unfortunately, when playing against another human player it doesn’t work quite the way you’d want it too. That is because blocking in this game is extremely overpowered when it comes to super moves. Executing a super instantly starts a flashy cutscene that allows the player plenty of time to hit the block button. Unlike most fighters it doesn’t matter when you hit the block button as long as its before the attack connects, allowing your opponent plenty of time to react to your attack.
This caused several of the matches against my friend and me to end due to timeouts rather than having a true knockout victory. When this was the case it felt frustrating and unsatisfying. Fortunately, there is a mechanic in the game that causes opponents to become stunned allowing for the perfect opportunity to execute your final blow, but when it occurs feels a little random making it hard to trigger on purpose.
Another unique mechanic that SNK Heroines Tag Team Frenzy adds to the mix is items. During fights, random item drops will appear on the screen. If you punch or kick one them you will add it to your inventory and be able to use it any time during the fight by simply flicking the right joystick. These items can be character buffs that allow you better defense or increased attack or allow you to place hazards on the stage. Stage hazards are extremely unpredictable and can range from dropping an item causing a character to trip to completely blurring the screen and making it so neither player can see.
The items are an interesting mechanic, but it really hinders SNK Heroines ability to be played as a competitive fighter. The unpredictable nature of stage hazards lends itself more towards the casual style of a party game rather than a fair one-on-one fight. Also for some reason, there is absolutely no crouching in SNK Heroines. I cannot think of a single other fighting game that doesn’t allow for its characters to crouch. It’s a pretty essential mechanic to many fighters and here it seems to be missing completely.
SNK Heroines promotional art and character select screens may have you believe that this is a gorgeous 2-D fighter, much like the popular Guilty Gear and BlazBlue games. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Instead, the game uses 3-D character models on a 2-D plane which is fine, except for the fact that these 3-D models look very unpolished. In some cases, the 3-D character models don’t even resemble the gorgeous 2-D art displayed in the character select menus. And when battles finish and character models are zoomed in on, it’s clear that some of these models may have been unfinished.
To top it off, the stages that you fight on look like they are covered in Vaseline. The backgrounds are very blurry and as a result lack any sort of detail or visual appeal. When it came to picking stages I found myself not really having a preference because all of them feel very generic. The one bright spot here is the music. Not that any of the tracks are super memorable, but the music is serviceable and provides a good fighting atmosphere.
It should also be noted that there are customizable outfits for each character. By using in-game currency you can purchase several items from headwear, wings, shoes, and tattoos to customize the look of your favorite fighters. This was actually pretty fun and while it doesn’t affect gameplay, it was pretty cool to have my own version of my favorite character to play as.
It’s really hard to recommend SNK Heroines Tag Team Frenzy to anyone. As a fighter, its party game playstyle lends itself more towards a casual audience. It can be fun with the right crowd, but even then there isn’t a whole lot of depth and it won’t take long for the fun to run out.
Even fans of the SNK series represented in the game are bound to be disappointed by the lackluster story offered here. It does absolutely nothing to capture the spirit of games like Fatal Fury or King of Fighters, and honestly shouldn’t even be held in the same breath as those far superior games.
There are plenty of fighting games on the market, so there really is no reason that this should be the one you pick up this console generation. Even though it’s super exciting to get all of the SNK Heroines in one game, this is not the game they deserve to be in.
SNK Heroines Tag Team Frenzy
Publisher: NIS America
Release Date: September 7th, 2018