I’m sorry for those people that went into SNK Heroines expecting The King of Fighters, because their expectations completely ruined their experience with what is very obviously quite a different type of game. People who saw the trailer and thought “Oh! Look! A more casual fighting game oriented toward a mature audience!” had, despite some minor issues, quite a blast with the game. So let’s see what’s what.
SNK Heronies: Tag Team Frenzy is a game that pulls female protagonists from SNK franchises into a tag team fighting game. You get to choose a main fighter and a support fighter from a roster (that’s all unlocked from the start) and then you go at each other like there’s no tomorrow. Instead of dying when you’ve exhausted your opponent’s health bar, though, you must use a finish move (kind of like a Fatality, but cute) called Dream Finisher, that’s triggered after filling up a gauge and pressing the correct button at the same time.
While this is a novel idea and a much-needed twist in a tired genre, the execution of the Dream Finisher is somewhat flawed: despite getting the “Finish” message, you might not be able to trigger Dream Finishers when you think you can. A lot of reviewers even thought there was something wrong with the game. To be honest, so did I: I played and played, and sometimes I could trigger the Dream Finisher, and sometimes I couldn’t. It was frustrating and I couldn’t get into the game because of it.
I reached out to NIS America, though, the publishers of the game, asking about this. And they explained to me that this was happening because your supporting fighter’s gauge fills up faster than your main fighter’s gauge. When I put that knowledge to work, everything went smoothly. However, at no point in the game was this explained to me by the game. At least not that I can remember. Unnecessary frustration from a counter-intuitive system really can put people off your game, and I think this is an easy problem to solve, either with more straight forward directions, or by changing the system altogether, so that your main fighter’s gauge and your supporting fighter’s gauge are one and the same. Why have two? I don’t know.
With that out of the way, though, I have to say that I loved the game for what it was: some fun fan service with a very competent fighting system, great visuals (a real showcase of what the Switch can do) and a funny single-player mode.
The story is really bare-bones: evil guy transports the girls to another dimension, they must fight their way back, etc. Nothing special, but the voice acting and the fact that each character plays a different storyline and role are very nice additions.
The roster, though, leaves a lot to be desired. There are only a handful of fighters to choose from, and your main fighter roster and your support fighter roster are the same. There’s no unlockable content, and the stages are limited, too.
There’s some variety to be had with different costumes, but the moveset remains the same. Thankfully, there’s a Smash-styled item system that keeps the gameplay fresh long after you’ve tired of using the same fighters in the same arenas.
And best of all, the game supports single joy-con gameplay, so you can couch multiplayer with a single system. Hooray!
Overall, though, this is a fan service game first, and a brawler second. Simple as. If you go into it expecting anything else, you’re bound to be disappointed: the roster is limited, the stages are few, and the physicality of the girls is… emphasized. But if you read the label on the tin and adjust your expectations accordingly, SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy is a fun party brawler with a mature tone that’s bound to please fans of SNK franchises.
Now I wish I had a Neptunia fighting game.