King of Fighters Ex: Neo Blood Review

kof-neo-box
The King of Fighters series has never been quite as popular as Street Fighter. It got pushed over to the obscure arcade brawling side along with Virtua Fighter. There are definitely many fans of this series, but it just doesn’t get a lot of publicity anymore. At least the PS3 game is typically in stores. (And I will get to that era someday) I’ve owned the sequel to this game for a long time to I always knew that I’d buy the sequel someday. What I couldn’t have expected…was that I’d be playing over 400 rounds in this game!

Yes, I played over 400 rounds in this title. Shocking isn’t it? Well, there are over 20 characters and you have the typical Arcade Mode for each of them. The matches consist of a best of 5 rounds set so you’re guaranteed to be playing at least 3 rounds for every match. There are 8 battles per character so then you just do the math. 8*3*22= Over 400 Matches. The only problem with the Arcade Mode is the fact that it’s not very well done. There usually isn’t a whole lot of effort plugged into it, but you still expect some kind of opening and ending. There are no openings, but each character does get an ending. The problem is that most of the cutscenes are identical for each character. The dialogue is slightly reworded and it doesn’t even make sense half of the time. The writing can be so bad that it’s funny.

Of course, you begin to tire of the gameplay after the first 200 matches or so. I would actually say that it’s a decently good feat that I was able to complete the 400 rounds without feeling too exhausted. So, I have to give the game some props for that. Unfortunately, Arcade Mode is really the only thing to do in the game. This was in the era before Wi-Fi so I can’t say that I expected a real multiplayer option. Connecting two Game Boys together as a last resort was fun back in the day, but I need Wi-Fi!

The actual gameplay barely needs to be explained, but I’ll quickly reference it anyway. You essentially press your buttons as fast as you can to try and attack the opponent. There are likely combos and other tricks that you can try, but button mashing is enough to win. It’s like Street Fighter, but the gameplay isn’t quite as deep yet. This is a GBA game so it definitely had its limits at the time. The actual gameplay can still be fun for a while, but it’s not a real page turner like Smash Bros.

The soundtrack is pretty good for the game. The themes are pretty catchy although you may find yourself putting the game on silent to tune out the sound effects. The characters yell for every action and that can definitely get old pretty quickly. The graphics are decent. The game uses sprites and the actions flow together pretty smoothly. The sprites could definitely look a lot cleaner, but they do have to be compressed into a pretty small screen. The graphics definitely aren’t bad considering that this is a GBA game. The Battle Network titles definitely show this one up though.

I bought this game for a penny and then I gladly paid the 4 dollar shipping. For this price, it’d be a shame not to play one of the big fighting titles! This won’t make the series begin to compete with the others like Street Fighter and Tekken, but it’s a start. I remember Terry from the olden days of Capcom vs SNK. Terry is my official gamer name across all of my titles so it’s definitely good to see a fighter with the name. I can assure you that he is one of my go to fighters in the game. Assuming that I ever play it again of course.

The problem is that there is no replay value. Beating Arcade Mode 2-3 times will likely be enough for most people. After that, there is only so much that you can do with the game. The rest of the modes are more of the same. There is a team option, but it will just mean that each battle will be a whole lot longer. You can always increase the difficulty to test your limits and to see what the game has in store for you, but that will only buy you a little time at best.

Overall, This was a decent fighting game. It’s basically what I expected, although the score is slightly lower than I had envisioned. The one thing that didn’t come through for me was the Arcade Mode. I expected better endings to be honest and a more diverse experience. Having the same thing happen over and over again can get pretty tedious. The roster of characters is pretty large, which is always great and their attack methods are diverse. I recommend this game to the truly hardcore fighting fans who want to see how the mechanics will work on the Game Boy. The game is going for a pretty cheap price right now so it’s really a steal. I recommend going for it, but if you want more of a lasting experience..get Ultra Street Fighter IV!

Overall 6/10

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