SNK has made many a fighting game in it's existence, but never have they ever tried to make one with a cast completely made up of all the women from their various series. That changes with SNK HEROINES ~Tag Team Frenzy~. Unfortunately, there are a number of things that compromise the fighting game experience that work against the game, and ultimately make it a weaker product than it should be.
The game's very silly plot involves a sand demon who wants to gather all of the SNK ladies in a pocket dimension, making them fight. The losers of these battles get put into a wall of sand, and the demon feeds off of their despair. The despair of young women specifically, which is why Terry Bogard is a woman, supposedly. It would have better if the marketing didn't even mention that, and let Terry be a woman with no explanation.
Everyone's doing the multiverse stuff nowadays, but for some reason many of the fighters in SNK HEROINES are wearing goofy outfits. Mai is in a cow bikini, complete with cow horns and bell. Others are cat girls or school girls. Even hits in the game are given a 'cute' flair. Instead of blood or generic comic strikes, you get things like snowmen or sweets.
Combat is done in a two person tag-team style, which is down from King of Fighters' three-person teams. The roster is made up of mostly characters from Fatal Fury or King of Fighters, but there are a few more from other series entirely. One fighter is from Samurai Spirits/Showdown, and the two DLC characters are Thief Arthur from Square's Million Arthur mobile game, and the other is Skullomania from Fighting EX Layer/Street Fighter EX. Both, like Terry, are now women as well.
The actual gameplay of the game is further stripped down by having just a light, weak, and throw attack button. There is also a special attack button, which your moves will change depending on which direction you are pressing when you press the Circle or A button. Finally, there's your super attack, which has two variations, and has to be used when playing in any mode to complete a fight. That's another thing stripped down. Fights are only one round, and whoever gets there super to connect wins.
SNK HEROINES has some other modes like survival and online with quick and ranked matches, but the online presence in my experience was pretty dead. Its net code is decent but it's no fighter that uses GGPO. You can also put accessories purchased with the game's own version of Fight Money. The accessories do nothing but give a bit of extra flair to your fighter's appearances. As a game, the game is a bit weak. Stripping down the combat makes it less appealing, and the fan service is shallow. I'm sitting here scratching my head, wondering why they designed the game like this.
If the goal was to introduce women in to the fighting game scene, it truly feels like an insult, despite the best intentions of the development team. Likewise, relying on the idea that 'it's just a silly fighting game' isn't gonna cut it. While I do like the idea of easy special and super moves, that should have been optional, and this should have been a more serious fighter. The only place such a system would work is a Smash Bros.-style setup. Unfortunately, that isn't what happened here. There are other better fighting games out there, and they don't have to dumb down their gameplay to appeal to women or newbies.
The Good: The game features a great deal of the ladies from King of Fighters, which is a concept that should have happened a long time ago.
The Bad: It's too bad the fighting was stripped down and is basically the worst kind of fan-service.
The Ugly: This concept of easy to pull off special moves would have been more welcome in a Smash Bros.-styled game.
SUMMARY: As a fighting game, SNK HEROINES is pretty weak, making the all women cast concept wasted potential because of a few shoehorned or half baked ideas.
Promotional consideration provided by Travis Shrodes of NIS America. Reviewed on the PS4.
Eric is a freelance writer and has a podcast called RPGrinders, and you can support their Patreon page here.