SNK Gals Fighters – Review
Follow Genre: Fighting Game
Developer: Aicom
Publisher: SNK
Platform: Switch, Neo Geo Pocket
Tested on: Switch

SNK Gals Fighters – Review

Site Score
5.5
Good: Catchy music
Bad: Graphics look muddy, especially on the big screen
User Score
7.5
(2 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 7.5/10 (2 votes cast)

SNK’s Neo Geo turns 30 years old this year. In order to celebrate, the classic Neo Geo Pocket game SNK Gals Fighters, originally released 20 years ago, has found its way onto the Switch. The game has definitely earned its place in SNK history, being the predecessor to SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy, but how has this pocket-sized fighter aged over the last two decades?

Story

The mysterious Miss X has organized the Queen of Fighters tournament. The event attracts the attention of various female characters from the SNK franchises. They must fight one another to have a shot of taking on Miss X herself. Whoever can defeat Miss X will be crowned the Queen of Fighters, and be awarded the mysterious K’ Talisman, which has the power to grant any wish. Fighting games -especially pocket sized ones- don’t always feature a story, so it’s nice to see that SNK went through the effort of providing a little introductory blurb to add some depth. 

Graphics

Time hasn’t been kind to this game’s visuals. The superdeformed character sprites probably looked great on the analogue screens of yesteryear, but on modern screens everything looks muddy. It’s not a matter of aesthetics either: character sprites may be a bit crude compared to their current incarnations but there is a charm to these designs. The limited use of color on the characters themselves makes the fighters stand out from the backgrounds, which are a bit more colorful. Unfortunately, the game isn’t optimized for digital screens making the visuals appear blurry when things are moving on screen and prolonged sessions can really put a strain on your eyes. 

One thing we should point out here is that the screen of the original Neo Geo Pocket was really tiny compared to today’s standards. The screen of the Switch is roughly 9 times that of the Neo Geo Pocket. Logically, blowing up the original 160×152 resolution doesn’t look good. In order to mitigate this, SNK Gals Fighters allows you to play the game on a virtual Neo Geo Pocket, meaning the game can display in its original resolution while in handheld mode. It’s a cute addition, and you’re still able to go full-screen if you wish. In docked mode, the game really suffers from the larger screen size, even while playing on the virtual handheld, so we heartily recommend you stick with playing it in handheld mode. It was designed to be played as a portable game after all. 

Sound

The Neo Geo Pocket wasn’t really known as a device that was able to produce fantastic audio quality, so it should come as no surprise that the system’s limitations restrict the music and sound. The rhythm of the music itself is catchy enough and the high tempo beats really add a layer of excitement to the on-screen fighting action. Of course, it still sounds like you’d expect from a 20-year-old handheld game, so you won’t find any high-fidelity music here. Within the parameters of the Neo Geo Pocket, however, the soundtrack is quite good. 

Gameplay

SNK Gals Fighters is a pocket-sized 1v1 fighting game. Given the limitations of the Neo Geo Pocket, SNK Gals Fighters offers a pretty decent experience, albeit one that would have been considered mediocre even back when it launched originally. With only two attack buttons and a directional D-Pad (although the standard Switch doesn’t feature a “real” D-pad), you are able to deliver a variety of combos as you beat the snot out of your opponent. There’s no real tactics or finesse involved and frantic button mashing will win you most matches. The game feels very basic by today’s standards. It would’ve been considered a barebones experience were it not for the nostalgia factor of being able to play a 20-year-old game on your TV. 

For the most part, SNK Gals Fighters is a straight-up port of the original game and as such, it suffers from the same flaws. Opponents often react sluggishly and won’t actively attack you, for example. Additionally, while in-game items can be earned, many of these simply don’t actually do anything. These problems were present in the original game, but the rerelease would’ve been the perfect opportunity to make a few tweaks. One new feature that did make it into the game is the possibility to rewind the game a few seconds. This is a neat little trick, allowing another chance in case things do go awry, but overall the usefulness is limited, given that the fights are rather short and not very difficult in the first place. 

Conclusion

While it certainly has a place in SNK history, SNK Gals Fighters hasn’t stood the test of time very well. The gameplay is barebones, the story is basic and unengaging and the graphics don’t benefit from being on a modern screen. Hardcore SNK fans might want to add this to their collection as a curiosity, but the game has very limited appeal for anyone else. Please note that at the time of writing, the game has been pulled from several storefronts so it might not currently be available in your country. We’re unclear as to what the reason is or when it will return. 

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Rating: 7.5/10 (2 votes cast)
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SNK Gals Fighters - Review, 7.5 out of 10 based on 2 ratings
Sebastiaan Raats
Sebastiaan Raats


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