Street Fighting Clans
King of Fighters All Star on Android is SNK’s most recent attempt to revive a series that has always lived in the shadow of more successful Japanese fighting titles. Where Street Fighter, Tekken and others have continued to hold their audiences since the 90’s, KOF still sits at a second table, playing the part of the slightly boring cousin in the family of fighting games.
In a twist that no one could have predicted, KOF All Star isn’t actually a 2D fighter, it’s a Streets of Rage Clone. Yes, you read that right. SNK opts to copy from a developer other than Capcom, and instead revive design elements from the golden age of Sega. If all of this sounds like a strange choice, it’s because it is.
A Low Center Of Gravity
KOF All Star plays like a great game that the developers decided to ruin. To call the game uneven implies a possibility of balance, instead, the developers leaned into making something that falls over with the slightest breeze.
Upon first starting the game, the player is shown gorgeous 3D animations that play out like the schlockiest of B-tier anime intro sequences. Few times in the history of video games, has the first ten seconds of a game done more to prepare players for the overall experience they are about to get themselves into. KOF stacks so many tropes and cliches within itself, it barely missed being a satire.
Filling Up The Emergency Room
The core gameplay of KOF consists of controlling one character in your party, guiding them down hallways or abandoned streets and beating up wave after wave of mostly generic enemies. Controls consist of one button for normal combos, two for special combos that have a cooldown and one for an even bigger special combo that has a longer cooldown. The block and dash button simply take up space on the screen, as enemies still seem surprised by the same combo you used to get past the last thousand that stood in your way.
All Star’s graphics would look completely serviceable on current-gen PCs or game consoles. Character models and environments surge to a high-water mark for what’s currently possible on Android. Music evokes the KOF series of yesteryear and combat pops off the screen with the sounds of punches, kicks and yells.
A Battle Without Reason
Despite its looks and reasonably tight controls, KOF All Star fails to provide a captivating story. In a turn of events copied and pasted from bargain-bin fiction, the main character of the story awakens with amnesia, gets into a series of fights, makes friends with a quirky young woman and then needs to protect her by putting entire neighborhoods in the hospital. There’s also a plotline about three mysterious characters who surveil the main character, trying to alternately determine if he’s the chosen one or he’s going to ruin their fighting tournament. Players should expect to be spoon fed the redundant, paint-by-numbers exposition between each and every story mission, of which there are hundreds.
Microtransactions, as in many big publisher mobile titles, display in triplicate over the home screen and then crowd the user interface. Of course, KOF’s gameplay loop doesn’t do much to necessitate real-world spending. Players can only use up to seven characters in a party and the game hands them out fairly liberally.
Ultimately King of Fighters All Star has the parts to be a joy to play, but fails to assemble them in a way that makes it worthwhile.
Is it Haredcore?
King of Fighters All Star marks a departure for the series, trading its traditional 2D fighting gameplay for a more standard beat-em-up. Despite great graphics and solid gameplay, the game fails to live up to expectations.