The King of Fighters ALLSTAR is an ambitious Beat ’em Up project, preying on the need to ‘collect them all’ (the fighters), and building their stats while on the train.
Netmarble’s take on The King of Fighters feels like a mix of Final Fight/Streets of Rage with a touch of dance/rhythm based gaming. The title launches in the U.S. market today on IOS and Android platforms but LiveGameDeals.com received an exclusive demonstration of some of the title’s features earlier this month. Primarily, the Time Attack Mode which allows you to take one of your KOF favorites for a spin. Controls which are the make or break feature of this sort of title use an on screen joystick on the left and special move buttons on the right. This makes for a bit of rhythm based action as you attack enemies, similar to some early DS games.
Once you use up a move, especially if it’s a super move it needs time to recharge, so there’s a cooldown period and you switch off to the next available attack button. The on-screen digital pad/joystick is competent enough, although during a boss play-through it did get stuck on the center of the screen briefly. So, really it’s like all digital screen joysticks in that way, however, controlling a character was pretty much a breeze. Much improved from earlier mobile games that use this method.
You have buttons to block instead of using the joystick (no parry), important especially for one on one battles, and PvP was pretty solid. Despite the relatively just okay WIFI where the game was tried out. If you’re expecting hyper accurate tournament style EVO PVP, remember this is still a mobile title. However, if you want very enjoyable casual based KOF action on the go, you won’t be disappointed. Simply put the game, no matter what the mode is fun in an old-school Arcade Beat ‘Em Up fashion. Kind of reminiscent of Tekken 3’s bonus mode Tekken Force.
The primary wildcard about The King of Fighters ALLSTAR is gaining access to character cards spanning different eras of KOF. You’ll want all the different variations of favorites like Terry Bogard. You can build up the stats of the characters and upgrade them with pretty advanced skill paths. So advanced they might be too much for a mobile gamer playing a quick playthrough on the bus but not for one at home. Just to make it clear, Card Fighters’ Clash this game is not but collecting the character cards does have a bit of that addictive ‘Collect ‘Em All’ feel to it.
While Live Game Deals only saw the Story Mode briefly, it looked like a lot was invested into it, full on re-imaginings of what happened in each KOF title. The potential for future DLC is endless, especially in the way of characters. Although, not being able to outright purchase the characters you want in-game or with real life currency but only gain them through a gem style box/pack lottery might be a turn off for many fans. From the explanation Live Game Deals received however, beating bosses like Rugal in Story Mode should unlock them. Orochi versions of Iori, Leona, Yashiro and Chris are available to play as which was a great time.
Visually the game looks solid, like a stripped down version of The King of Fighters XIV. The co-op works rather well, opening doors for a shared, relaxed KOF experience on-top of the PVP.
Overall, Neo Geo fans looking for a new SNK title to play will have a good time with The King of Fighters ALLSTAR. It does and doesn’t tap into the nostalgia well, down AES/MVS memory lane. On one side having the various iterations of characters like ’95 and ’97 Billy Kane really is something for the old school AES/MVS players. Yet on the other side this is definitely a fresh feeling take on KOF rather than some kind of asset mashup. Tekken 3’s Tekken Force mode is the best way to describe what it resembles most but with on-screen one touch attack buttons.
Download The King of Fighters ALLSTAR starting today (10/22) in the U.S. region on IOS and Android platforms. Be sure to check out Live Game Deals’ recent article examining what would happen to the collector’s market if SNK rereleased Neo Geo AES carts today.