King of Fighters 2012-A (and F) Review (Android)

King of Fighters is one of the oldest and most underrated franchises in video game history. KOF happens to be one of the oldest 2D fighting franchises around. The series bring together characters from most other SNK published games from way back  the early 90's to compete in the King of Fighters tournament, similar to Super Smash Brothers mixed with Capcom's street fighter.

This series is one of the best examples of a great franchise that virtually no one has heard of, because the KOF franchise has been a victim of virtually nonexistent marketing for over a decade since the SNK PLAYMORE merger. I have been one of the most hardcore fans of the KOF franchise for well over a decade, and even I didn't realize this game got released in 2011. The fact that there was even a mobile version of this game from 2012 was just as much a surprise to me.

Gameplay:

The one thing that got my attention right away is that this game's updated sprites had a tremendously positive effect on the game play, moving the franchise closer to the award-winning SNK titles like Garou: Mark of the Wolves. With the updated sprites, the moves and combos pretty much flow better than pretty much every previous KOF game because of it.The game engine overhaul has been long overdue by about fifteen years.

Controls:

The touch controls are customization as you would expect, allowing you to move any control to any area of the screen, which is a standard of most mobile games. They become an issue, however, when the game goes full screen, but leaves the back and home buttons in full view if you have a phone without hardware buttons. This is because the game was developed around the time android 4.0 was released, and only Android 4.4 (kitKat) and above allowed developers to use true full screen. SNK Playmore could easily patch this, but they elected not to for some reason, causing me to accidentally press the back or home screen several times when trying to pull off a combo or Desperation Move.

There is no fucking excuse for a fighting game not to
support some variety of controller.
Let's be honest here: Touch screen controls are not for everyone, and not for every game. There are some motion-sensitive controls that lend themselves well to games designed around it, but most of the time, games ported from a console or PC converted to use a touch sensor are mostly complete shit, and this game is an excellent example of why. The same applies to this game. What is surprising is that there is literally no option to us any kind of hardware controller at all.

Now I know some of you are probably thinking to yourselves: "Yeah, well what's the big deal? most games on the Android market don't support game pads anyway!" You'd be right, but keep in mind that certain games --like I said before-- CAN get away with not having game pad support. Racing games can supplement steering with an accelerometer, and there are plenty of examples where first-person shooters are BETTER on a touchscreen. Fighting games are definitely not one of them. SNK has been supporting this type of hardware for fucking YEARS, and have ported games to seven platforms already in the past 20+ years. what possible excuse could there be for SNK Playmore's flagship gaming title not to have this feature some five years after the game was released?

The biggest issue I have with touch-screen controls in general is the fact that whether or not they are precise or responsive depends entirely on the mobile device you buy. there are devices out there with touch screens about as precise as a storm trooper in a tennis match. there is no consistent method of knowing what constitutes an accurate or responsive touch screen, making controls on the platform hit or miss most of the time.

Graphics: 

When I picked up this game on the play store, I was expecting a direct port from the PS3 release, or at least close enough to it. What I got, however, was a very half-baked, heavily pixelated pile of shit when playing on my 720P phone and tablet. The graphics were obviously up-scaled from a much lower resolution, making this look less like a 2012 release and more of a title from the arcade cabinet of the early NeoGEO.

The one very noticeable downside of the graphics is that there is literally no stage animation. The background is just a static image with the low resolution sprites in front of it, meaning the android port of the game somehow has less sprites than the Original NeoGEO KOF games did.

Side Note:

The one thing that bothered me even more than the lack of game pad support did was the very weird and money-grubbing way the KOF 2012 A (F) version of the game allows players to acquire coins to unlock playable characters. I wanted to play as N.E.S.T.S Kyo, (Favorite version of Kyo Kusanagi move-set from early 2000,) and the only way I could earn any coins at all in order to get that version, (which costs 100 of them) would be to beat the game (1 coin,) Watch an ad over 100 times, (1 coin each,) or sign up for the numerous shady ponzi schemes the game provides you that have nothing to do with gaming. There isn't even an option to just Buy the coins like with most android games.

VERDICT:

I was excited as hell to find that my favorite fighting game franchise was on the Android platform, but a poor port with no bug fixes or updates, lack of Gamepad support, and lackluster graphics on the average smart device makes this a perfect example of how to get everything wrong when developing for this platform.



Publisher: SNK Playmore

Genre: Fighter

Rating: T (Teen)
Platform: Android
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