If you are here, reading this on DualShockers, there is a lot to like about SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy. The entire game seems at odds with other trends in the market to cut down on fun portrayal of fictional characters–thankfully, that doesn’t deter too many people who are likely reading this review. However, while I’m toiling away at deciding and designing my Best Girl, it may be harder to swallow obvious issues that follow from SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy when it comes to actually being a fighting game.
For everyone out of the loop, SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy is a female-exclusive fighting title, drawing from developer SNK’s history of characters. Sure, this includes fan favorites from the more notable fighting The King of Fighters series, but it also includes women from lesser-known titles like SNK’s Athena. Hell, we even have a full-on genderswap, with series favorite Terry Bogard getting shape-shifted into a woman (for more on that, check the full story below):
But what brings all of these heroines together? And what’s up with all of the cute get-ups? The King of Fighters villain (?) Kukri–or some shadow being taken the form of him–has opened a pocket dimension, bringing all the heroines together to feed off their fear. Once he manages to do that, he can unlock the true power behind fear: Fetishism Explosion. Seriously.
As you may have surmised, SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy is light on story and never takes itself too seriously. If you are looking to see all of the campaigns, you will likely buck through it in about 20 minutes depending on skill level; those more experienced in fighting games will be closer to 8 minutes. Thankfully, each girl has their own cutscenes and interactions with each other, so there are limited reasons to replay the main story again and again. However, I feel like there is definitely a case that the campaign could and should have more depth.
But story has never been a huge sticking point for me and fighting games, and it is nice to see that SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy is a fairly accessible one. The accessibility itself stems from the actual gameplay mechanics and button layouts, and also the meta-mechanics of the game that generally prevent quick knockouts.
Unlike more technical fighting titles like Tekken or Street Fighter, SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy instead uses a very short combo list that mostly include a light attack, strong attack, special attack, blocks, and throws. In other words, your general Super Smash Bros. configuration, if not more basic than that. On the bright side, this meant that my non-fighting game playing fiancee could jump in at a moment’s notice and pick up the title instantly. On the other end, I find it hard to believe that this game has too much depth outside of what you will see in the first few hours–though I will likely be stopping by to check out each new heroine, I don’t think the gameplay is going to be the hook.
On top of that, two new gameplay elements set SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy apart from other fighting games. The first is a Double Dash like system where players must choose a supporting fighter at the get-go. At any point in the match, you can swap out with your support fighter (with whom you share health) to give your main fighter some time to recover special power. And recovering that is important, given you can only win a match with using a Dream Finish–a special move that is as easy as pressing a shoulder button, but requires significant special power.
There are some other small systems that enhance this system. Special power and HP work at odds with each other–the higher your HP, the lower reserve of special power you can draw from and vice versa. On top of that, restricting victory to landing one move makes for a defensive end-game scenario. There is a lot of blocking that is happening, and everything is a perilous dance for the last few moments. It’s a surprisingly interesting take on the genre, but nothing feels necessarily game-changing. It’s a tad disappointing that there is no difference between the Attack and Support fighter when swapped out, and that items–again, think Double Dash–are so forgettable.
It’s obvious the SNK put a lot of thought into the actual gameplay of SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy, but the modes feel somewhat barebones. You will get all the obvious stalwarts of the fighting genre: PvP, Training, Online, and an Arcade Campaign. The big exception seem to be a Survival mode that will pit you against stronger and stronger enemies to see how far in the round you can go. The other mode is the customization mode, where you can design cute looking outfits and poses for your characters of choice. The functionality here is well thought-out, giving you a few slots to save your favorite get-ups.
Speaking of the get-ups, it is hard not to like the design of the game. While the models aren’t purely 2D, everything in the visual realm is cute and polished. Physics play off the body well, and will undoubtedly please fans who already know they are buying this game. And the costumes are all varied enough that no two fighters feel the same.
My one last complaint would be the PvP, however I don’t want to lean too hard into it. Within the review period, I’ve been playing as many games online as I can and they’ve all been generally sluggish despite good connectivity. Hopefully it is more a case of review server jitters and a severely lacking playerbase, but be prepared to enjoy this more as a couch co-op experience.
SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy is a light fare for fighting games, but there is more than enough smart systems to keep fighting game aficionados interested. Even better, the game is a cute entry point for people new to the genre. So long as you aren’t expecting a deep combat system or extensive PvP functions, you won’t be let down. Either way, the fabulous SNK heroine cast will likely impress–one way or another.