7 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

King of Fighters Maximum Impact Review

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King of Fighters has always lagged way behind Tekken and Street Fighter for me. None of the characters are particularly interesting and it has always felt like a Street Fighter game, but with all of the iconic characters replaced with randoms. I’m sure that later games have helped to give all of them some personality and backstory, but this game definitely doesn’t help their case. I still have a lot of catching up to do with this series though so hopefully the price goes down on some of the originals soon. I went on my big fighting game kick for Christmas, but there will probably be a different theme this year so it could be a while. Well, let’s dive into this title.

First off, one disappointing thing here is the fact that the Arcade Mode is even more bare bones than usual. Characters don’t even get an opening or an ending anymore. That’s essentially the definition of lazy if you ask me. You are only incentivized to play through the game once since every character has the same opening and ending. There is as slight plot at least, but it is still lazy to now give each character something unique. They are all invited to a tournament that is being held by some gangsters. Once you defeat everyone who stands in your way, you defeat the main villain in front of a large crowd and he says that you’ll both meet again…in hell! It’s a pretty hardcore line even if we completely wrecked this guy.

In a way it is good that the characters don’t get a real story though. That’s because your game option settings don’t apply to Arcade Mode so you have to do a best of 3 the entire time. The final level is also very difficult to the point where button mashing simply won’t be effective anymore. You’ll have to end up actually learning the game a bit and even then it should take several tries to finally beat the final boss unless you’re already a pro. I’d rather not imagine myself doing it with every character and I only ended up completing the game with the first two.

The gameplay is your average 2D fighter like with Street Fighter and the other similar games. It does seem like it is very hard to get up in this game though because attacks seem to have very high priority. In the final level of Arcade Mode, forget about even trying to rise. Your opponent will simply slam you back into the turf every single time and his combos can take out half of your life bar or more with a single combo. Something seems off with this and I could see the competitive scene dying instantly for this game. It reminds me of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game for Gamecube. Of course, that game was a blast and had excellent graphics and a solid soundtrack to back it up. It clobbers this game, but that’s another story.

This is still a solid fighting game. It’s why fighters are so much fun. Even if the characters are not all that likable and there is no real story mode to speak of, the vs mode is what really counts here. A good multiplayer mode means instant replay value and this is the kind of game that is perfect for playing at any random time. You can just turn on the PS2 and prepare yourself for some fun games. Of course, it has less replay value if you’re on your own of course. Still, I guess you could have fun fighting the computers for a while.

I’ll give the game some more props for the fact that it actually has a big opening. Back in the day a lot of games skipped this step or barely did anything with it so that was pretty neat. It unfortunately could not get past the trap of including a little fanservice though so that was pretty regrettable. The dialogue and writing is still as clunky as ever, but at this point King of Fighters is known for that so maybe it was partially intentional at the time. Beyond that, the graphics are pretty good. I’d say that they’re certainly above average for this time period and actually look better than the Street Fighter Alpha games. Granted, that may not be saying a whole lot since those games were quite a bit older.

The soundtrack is very solid as well. There is a solid opera esque theme for one of the stages and there are quite a few tunes. The game did a good job of adding in a lot of variety and this really puts Capcom Fighting Evolution to shame surprisingly. This is definitely one of the highlights for King of Fighters so hopefully the future installments will follow suit in this regard. Just give me some more hype music and we’re good.

Overall, Maximum Impact is a worthy spinoff to the main series. I still think that the games could do a better job of making the character likable and motivated. There’s no real reason to pick someone over another character aside from the all important tiers because none of them have any real personality yet. They all seem like tough guys and gals. Everyone seems to share that trait, but they don’t really have anything else to show for it. Terry’s my favorite character, but that’s really because of the name so I’m not totally sure if that counts. There’s not a whole lot to do here besides multiplayer mode, but that should be enough to tide you over. After all, if you’re buying the game, I assume that multiplayer is the reason for your purchase. Hopefully the series will have more of a real arcade mode in the main titles.

Overall 7/10

8 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Street Fighter Ex 3 Review

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With Street Fighter V out, I decided that it was time to actually get into the Street Fighter franchise. It has always looked like an epic franchise, but SF IV is the only game that I had played. Well, that’s all changed with Ex 3 and I also bought the Alpha collection as a nice backdrop for after this title at some point. Ex 3 feels like the good ole Arcade Style of the olden days and it works really well here with one of the best Arcade Modes of all time.

Unfortunately, there is no real story here. Usually Arcade Mode has a nice opening and an ending, but that isn’t the case this time. There is a small block of text for each character upon beating the game, but that’s all. No rival cutscene and no opening makes this a standard fight the CPU mode. Luckily, that’s where the cool design comes into play. The first battle is always a 3 vs 1 fight. Let that sink in a bit since it’s rare to see this in a Street Fighter title. It’s a blast! You then grab one of your defeated foes as an ally and rinse and repeat as you go through the mode in other formats like 2 vs 2 and 2 vs 1. Finally, you go up against Bison in the ultimate battle as it’s 4 vs 1. I have to say that it would feel pretty bad to lose to him with the odds so heavily stacked in your favor. It does make the fight that much more epic though.

There are 27 fighters in the game, which is definitely an impressive amount. Oddly enough, it seems like over half of the characters (Or roughly half) are made up for the Ex series. You can tell because while their designs may have some slight personality, they feel a little generic. One character is literally called Area and some of the others have names that may sound eccentric, but probably didn’t have a lot of thought behind them. The characters were quickly just created and thrown into the game. Most of them at least seem to have fairly good controls and combos so there’s always that. I like the two Superhero/Supervillain character combo. Those guys are definitely a blast.

The actual gameplay is what you would expect to find in a Street Fighter game. It’s 2D and you have to punch and kick your opponent until his/her health bar goes all the way down. There are a lot of combos that you can work towards completing and you can learn them in the trials/training mode. More on that in a moment. Street Fighter basically invented the term “Button Masher” so you can still do pretty well against the computer is you just keep on pressing buttons. Due to the retro feel of the game, it feels like you can move very fast and fluidly. I also can’t forget to mention how the team function is so fun. You can switch out and pull off a devastating team combo before your partner leaves. It’s also risky if your partner gets hit in the crossfire though because you’re then taking roughly double damage for each hit. So, watch out, but it adds another layer to the game. The Arcade Feeling is cemented in the game and that’s definitely a good thing.

Back to the Trials Mode. This mode has you pull off combos and challenges so that you can gather EXP to unlock new attacks with. They can then be used on your original fighter so you can give him your personal 4 best special abilities. Imagine having Zangief’s Cyclone and Ryu’s Shoryuken. The possibilities are endless so your fighter will be very tough by the end. I did a lot of the challenges for fun, but they do get really difficult later on and without any actual prize besides buying abilities for a character that I’ll never use…there’s not much else to do there. Before going to multiplayer mode, you’ll just want to make sure that you have all of the characters. Beating the game 10 times will get you the 10 normal unlockable characters, but you have to beat it 8 times as Ryu and 8 times as Bison to get their true forms. They’re really like glorified alt costumes, but you’ll still want to have them unlocked for parties.

The true replay value as always is simply playing the multiplayer mode with friends. There are enough characters so that you won’t ever have to get bored. Whenever you want a break from Ryu, try out Bison for a bit and then go back to Ryu. Evil Ryu and Bison 2 are secret characters, which also shake things up although they are not quite as intense as they will be in future installments.

The graphics are a little more pixelated than you may have assumed, but it does help that retro vibe. It’s also interesting to see the characters use their moves from SF V. It shows how true to its history Street Fighter has stayed over the years. Just about every combo in SF V is still around here even if it’s no longer a true combo or the attack may have become less effective. The final stage in particular looks great and I’m sure that a lot of effort was put into that one.

As for the soundtrack, it works fairly well. Once again, I’ll give a shoutout to the final stage for that. Beyond that level, the themes are a little more forgettable than your average Street Fighter game. It’s a good soundtrack while you’re playing, but you probably won’t remember it quite as vividly as you would for a title like Street Fighter V. I haven’t played that game in a while and I can still recall all of the big themes. Still, Street Fighter can’t knock it out of the park every time.

In case you’re curious, this game still loses to Street Fighter IV and V. It’s a blast of course, but those games are simply too good. I also have my doubts on whether or not it’ll be able to beat the Alpha games. It probably beats the original though (I played the mobile version) so there’s always that. Getting another Ex game someday would be a blast. Bringing back that team angle would make for some fun tournies!

Overall, Street Fighter Ex 3 is a complete success in my book. I know that reviews for the game weren’t quite as positive as the others, but it shows what a high standard Street Fighter games have set for the franchise. I’d still say that Ex 3 isn’t just a good game, but a great one. It really forces you to put on your nostalgia goggles and the gameplay has aged very well over the years. You can just pop it in the console and play it at any time and you’ll have as much fun as someone who played it when it first came out on March 4th in the year 2000. If you don’t own this forgotten Street Fighter game yet, then I highly recommend goinng out there and getting it ASAP!

Overall 8/10