SNK’s classic fighting series made an impression on us last year, and much like the console releases, another year means a new iteration. In this case, sequels are welcome, as this 2012 version sports some great enhancements. Some fighting games are still a little iffy on touchscreens, but SNK has proven its worth and The King of Fighters-i 2012 is thankfully not backstepping.
The fighting tournament to end all tournaments returns, with its wacky storyline intact. This is very much a translation of the Xbox 360/PS3 game, but fine-tuned for touchscreen controls. The King of FIghters-i 2012 includes an array of crazy special move fight rules ported from the console versions, and hardcore fighting fans will revel in the deep system of special moves, super moves, super cancels, and multi-layered combinations therein.
Should have worn shades.
Thankfully, casual gamers won’t feel left out. The game distills its controls down to punch/kick/special/evade buttons for the most part. Basic special moves are done with a combination of the special button and a directional press. This makes it far easier to pull off those fireballs and super punches, without making it completely mindless.
The higher-end special moves are performed when a character’s power gauges are filled up. These bars are just below the fighter’s health, and the maximum damage moves are pulled off by actually tapping the bar. Super cancel moves, which are even showier, are done by tapping their portrait. While this is easier than pulling off some of the legendary (and insane) stick and button combinations of old school SNK fighters, it’s not exactly ideal.
Forcing the player to quickly tap something in the opposite corner of the screen to pull off a super combination of moves is just inconvenient. Still, it’s not unworkable. The controls also have minor sensitivity problems with diagonal moves, especially when jumping.
The usual suspects.
Beyond that, however, there’s little to complain about. There are four new teams this year, bringing the character roster up from 20 to 32, which is a massive collection of diverse fighters. 2012 also includes six new fighting backdrops. The game still looks great, with detailed, colorful, and excellently-animated characters. More importantly, KoF i2012 supports online play over Wi-fi through Gamecenter.
Online play is fast, smooth, and easy to get into, adding an incredible amount of extra value to a game already overflowing with fighting action. The King of Fighters-i 2012 is especially appealing for those who didn’t already drop $6.99 on last year’s version, but there’s enough new content here to recommend it for die-hard fans regardless. We’d still really like to see a universal or iPad version instead of this iPhone-specific release, as the game is simply more playable on the larger screen.