| paleface [sys=DC; cat=Fighting; loc=JPN]
|And yet another good port, as far as I can tell--it's not like I've ever seen this in the arcade or anything. Eolith has improved their background art to the point where it isn't ugly as sin but they're still either too busy or plain and bland, for the most part, lacking both subtlety and compelling design, failing to capture a real sense of place. Overall they still haven't come close to the artistry and sense of design SNK had at their peak.
This year they try making up for it with a huge 40+ roster, and there's something to be said for that. Bao is out, Vice is in, these are good things--and besides they work tons of other SNK characters into the populous backgrounds, so you'll still spot Bao in there if you look hard enough (not to mention the poor neglected USA Sports Team). Oh yeah Billy is a playable character this year, ugh!
They also show a flair for evolving the fighting system, getting rid of strikers completely and returning to straight 3 on 3 after last year's variable ratio system. Darn, I liked the ratio system. You can now get really in-depth mastery of special details of various counter and cancel moves--lots of stuff for the pros to do with tricky double-button presses. It sounds like cool stuff and I'd really like to see someone good play it, because I'm nowhere close to being able to take advantage of it myself (I'm more of the "Ralph + Galactica Phantom * infinity" type myself :P).
The boss like last year is just ridiculous, not even fun at all--I don't even bother trying to fight these things anymore, just take the 1/3rd life continue and turtle for a time win. I sux0r! No minigame this year, however there's a massive Challenge Mode with three variants (you have to unlock these by beating regular Team and Single arcade modes) on basic Survival--you can unlock other characters after facing a stupendous challenge such as beating 40 characters in a row, ending with Rugal. Yikes! Well, that'd keep me busy for a while. I haven't seen where it tracks individual character scores for these modes, that's unfortunate. And of course the inevitable gallery of so-so art, each unlocked by beating the character in Single arcade mode or something.
It's all well and good and the fighting system is nice but the presentation, while not blinding, is just rather mediocre--going with the "Dream Match" this year was their excuse not to do any team endings, and this year brought no new players to the mix. KOF is just feeding on itself a bit at this point. While this year's edition should make for quite compelling Vs play among old fans (something I've yet to be able to try, drat), it feels more inbred than any KOF to date. Is this as far as Eolith can go with it, just tweaking what's already been invented? Now that SNK is largely back in action as Playmore hopefully they can combine the old SNK creativity with Eolith's abiilty to tweak the gameplay, and release a really amazing KOF in a year or two.