SNK translates to NeoGeo which translates into a longtime effort in the 2-D based fighting game genre. With great success in the KOF series, and lackluster fame with titles like World Heroes, SNK brings the best and worst collection of characters and wraps them into NeoGeo Battle Coliseum.
NGBC follows in the footsteps of Capcom’s Capcom vs SNK series in the sense that it’s a 2-man team brawler. The look and presentation is where the similarity stops and the gameplay is where it gets tremendously separated. First off this game requires a high degree of patience, timing, and skill. This may possibly be the biggest turn off for many players, especially coming from game engines like CVS or even the KOF series. But we’ll get into that in just a moment, let’s start off with the positive aspects.
One of the more pleasant things about this game is the fact that there are a lot of characters to choose from ranging from classics such as Kim Kaphwan, Mai Shiranui, and Tung Fu Ru, but there are new entries such as Yuki aka “the NeoGeo kid” and A.I. the “whatever the hell she is girl”. What makes the selection unique is that it features characters ranging from a lot of the notable 2-d games on the NeoGeo system such as: KOF, Fatal Fury, World Heroes, Metal Slug, Kizuna Encounter (only a few even know about this game), Last Blade, Samurai Showdown and even little tidbits from games like Last Resort, King of Monsters, and even Baseball Stars. The roster is quite impressive considering that bosses from some of these titles have made it into the game.
After deciding on your ass-kickery pair, you select a leader and commence your button mashing glory….except the fact that mashing buttons won’t exactly get you through a match. Even if you’ve played any of the titles mentioned above, gone through the practice mode and studied the move list, the commands are absolutely the most non-friendly penalizing commands that I have encountered in a game.
The first might be Way of the Warrior (super old title on 3DO system w/ a killer White Zombie soundtrack … yes I know it was a horrible game…sighs). The moves are ridiculously hard to pull off when you need them the most. Neogeo fighters are quite known for the difficulty of special and supermove commands, but they have never been as precise on the motions as they are in this game.
For example simple “dragon punch” commands do not register upon wake-up game tactics like in most 2-d fighters. Special and super-moves can’t be repetively abused, which makes sense on the aspect that they want to challenge the player, but it will damper the spirits of newcomers along with some of you vets out there. The motions just tend to be difficult to execute.
What NGBC really needed was a challenge mode similar to KOF XI which actually taught the player the in-game engine tactics. But even with such a feature, it’s a bummer that the controls are not refined enough to reward novice players. With the higher degree of difficulty in the controls it will definitely separate the men from the boys indicated from the crazy-sick youtube combo videos. So you could say that pulling off moves isn’t impossible, just not consistent enough unless you do nothing for the rest of your natural life but play this game.
Graphically NGBC is excellent but suffer the fate of KOF XI in regards to the sprites. But overall the sprites are a bit more detailed than KOF XI. Animation on the other hand is top notch. They seem to centralize the look and feel so that the characters in NGBC visually appear consistent. Characters don’t seem to feel out of place considering that a few selections are from very old NeoGeo franchises.
That was an issue I had with a few Capcom titles like MVC2 and such. The character art is great, I just wish the art department carried that over into the endings which NGBC doesn’t seem to have. And no a picture and some text doesn’t count. Quite frankly they attempted to write a story to all this but fell flat. Then again when did any of the crazy tag games ever have a storyline that made sense? You pretty much are all about the ass kicking.
The gameplay is what you’d expect from an SNK 2-d fighter with a varied move list and in-depth game mechanics. You get to select 2 team members, select which one is the leader and go at it. You have an offense/defense meter that fills up gradually in a total of 3 levels, a guard break meter, and a double assault gauge that also fills up over time. Also mixed in are the safe rolls, guard cancels, super cancels, tactical steps, and so on and so forth. A lot of the techniques are for advanced players so noobs will probably lose many matches until they spend time with the game unless they love getting tea-bagged by Mudman all day long.
Anyhow, the tag sytem is a bit unique in the sense that you have to wait till the double assault gauge gets filled which keeps the balance in check, but I feel KOF XI’s quick shift feature should have carried over, then again this game was actually out before KOF XI so go figure. One thing that I wish was added was more special team double assaults. There are only a handful of character pairs that have a special tag team move together. Why that is I couldn’t tell but the ones in there are pretty cool, minus the fact that you have to meet criteria just to pull them off.
For example you are not allowed to do Iori’s special team tag motion until you execute his projectile desperation move, then wait ten counts (10 sec.) then you input the move. The tag moves are varied and exciting, some of which do crazy damage. But if you have a pair of characters who do not have the “special” tag move then you just get the mediocre animation of your two characters pummeling the opponent only to do less than block damage. Yeah NOT SATISFYING. Although, you do get all the supers that a character should have available, unlike KOF XI where only the leader has the Super Desperation move.
Your standard soundtrack comes to life in NGBC. Catchy fighting tunes, that distinct sound when a super double assault is about the own you, the Japanese rants as a move is being announced, it all comes together nicely. Yet none of this translates into Dolby Pro logic just plain ol’ stereo. Sound effects are what you’d expect from an SNK title. You can also select from the original to the arranged versions of the music soundtrack.
Not much to unlock other than the extra characters which are a few surprise characters like Athena (from the original Athena game), to boss characters like Neo Dio, Mizuchi which is basically a clone of Orochi from KOF 97. You can unlock the endings, but I wouldn’t say that this game has endings. I feel that so much more could have been added to the game like the absent “online play” found in the Japanese version of the game. But the way that the timing is to the controls for this game would make it nearly impossible to play.
Neogeo Battle Coliseum is a great leap forward in the SNK series, but it does have a few shortcomings mainly in the gameplay controls. They seem to be nail-bittingly unforgiving when inputting these commands which will turn off newcomers and frustrate even the advanced players. Albeit the graphics and sound, many things in this game will only cater to the most diehard fans, but leave them wanting more. I find it hard to recommend it to non-fighting game gamers simply because through the history of SNK/Neogeo titles, the characters in the game are not recognizable or appealing enough to get them into a game like this. It’s quite a shame because this is the closest rival to the excellent Capcom vs SNK 2, but overall NGBC is a much better improvement over Neogeo’s failure SNK vs Capcom.