A product, not the goal.
We all know why SNK Heroines: Tag Team Battle exists. The fine folks at SNK decided they needed a game aimed at the anime titty demographic, and whipped up a game where you can fight as only girls in skimpy outfits. Perfectly fine games have been birthed from the desire to milk the desires of young men, but unfortunately, Tag Team Battle is not one of those titles. In fact, it feels like nobody involved with it, from the creators to the players, can eek out an ounce of joy from it.
The basic combat flow of SNK Heroines is frustrating. The core structure of a fighting game involves spacing, movement, combo potential, and so many other things. Even if you’re not taking a fighting game seriously, there are things you pick up on quickly just by moving your character and pressing buttons. SNK Heroines ignores basically all of that. Yes, you move around the screen and have to worry about your attacks hitting, but compare how this game plays to almost any other fighting game and you’ll feel a lack of feedback and confusion over nearly every input.
Instead of light, medium, and heavy attacks with inputs for specials, your face buttons are set to light, heavy, grab, and special. A simplified control scheme isn’t inherently awful, but this almost feels more obtrusive when you consider that there’s also a block button, as opposed to the standard “hold back to block” method most games use. Mortal Kombat and its related games use a block button, but those games were built with that in mind, SNK Heroines has seemingly grafted this method onto a game that doesn’t mesh well with that at all. In order to get around the constant blocking, you can pick up items that have the chance to go around the guard. These include a slippery banana, a bouncing pinball, a statue that drops and causes your opponent to become dizzy, and standard HP and super meter fillers. These can sometimes be fun, but instead of adding to the combat and making it more hectic, often the player is almost reliant on these items to have any kind of chance of making progress. Combine all this with the lack of any crouch (meaning you can’t mix up, only attacking from the air or at eye level) and you get one of the least fun control setups I’ve ever experienced.
Perhaps the most unfathomably dumb decision made about this game is the victory condition. Instead of just reducing your enemy’s health to zero, you have to lower their health until it turns red, then hit them with a super. SNK has not learned from Playstation All-Stars’ follies, and has seemingly done one worse by making special moves drain your super meter. And no, I don’t mean EX versions of special moves, I mean using any and all special moves drains from the bar.
Basic combos become a chore as you must now pay closer and closer attention to your super meter, constantly worried that your characters are below the limit to toss a super out and end the match, or if you need to wait for your backup to recharge while waiting in the wings. This is seemingly the only reason why there are any tag team elements in the game, as swapping out mid-combo is the only way to do any kind of meaningful damage. In other tag fighters, using your entire row of characters is an advanced tactic used to get big blowout combos, but in SNK Heroines, if you want to do more than 10% of your opponent’s health bar, you need to swap out, which gets vastly aggravating as time goes on playing casually.
The root of SNK Heroines’ problems is this; It is a cobbled together, slapdash mess, mostly made up of a handful of King of Fighters XIV assets and throwaway character models. The only character that isn’t a straight model-rip from the previous game is Girl-Terry, while everyone else just gets stereotypical costumes to stir the proverbial pot. The sexy costumes don’t even really fit many of the characters, such as Luong, who normally dresses in a pretty sexualized Vietnamese ao dai, getting a schoolgirl outfit for some reason. Admittedly, some match, such as Athena’s magical girl attire, but it just goes to show how swiftly this must’ve been thrown together that the horny attire wasn’t even well thought out.
Even the story is a strange, unnecessary mess. The girls are whisked away into a pocket dimension by Kukri, a character from XIV who controls sand and has no known ties to dimensional rift-walking or being a pervert from previous lore. In this dimension, he has a statue that, once fully fueled by the girls’ despair, will allow him to meld this world and the real world, so all the women in reality will be dressed in skimpy outfits for him. Your chosen tag team barely interact, instead cycling through short scenes of one of them standing around, mumbling about how bored they are while a camera ogles their privates. It’s boring, just absolutely boring. Even if you’re coming to this game to get your jollies, there’s not enough to supply that. You’ll see worse on pretty much any anime currently airing.
SNK Heroines is wasted potential incarnate. When the game was announced, I was initially excited at the concept of a spiritual sequel to Neo Geo Pocket Color game Gals’ Fighters. Instead, Tag Team Frenzy feels like a rushed game without any soul, a game for perverts that feels like the people making it weren’t even excited by what they were making. To get a better experience of equal merit, go buy the excellent King of Fighters XIV and browse Pixiv’s 18+ section. At least then you won’t get blue-balled by both gameplay and sex appeal.
Small edit: In the review I claimed Terry was the only new character model added to the game. That’s incorrect, as Shermie was a new model. Sorry!