Version Reviewed: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPad 2
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There's just something special about fighting games from the 90s that make them forever green. The imprint that era left on gamers and the medium alike helped set the stage for everything that would end up coming further down the road. A key part of this transformative period in can be attributed to SNK’s groundbreaking King of Fighters franchise. Does the recent remake of King of Fighters ’98 stand the test of time, or should this have been left in the decade it was birthed?
The series’ 1998 installment was meant to be the collation of characters that had appeared in the prior four years worth of iterations, as a veritable “Best of” edition. The result is a massively-ballooned character list that gets close to rivaling the likes of the Marvel vs. Capcom franchise. Somewhat amazingly, the title still manages to be fairly well-balanced despite the rather eclectic roster of brawling vagabonds. This also highlights the variety of different character designs, fighting styles, and move sets that the series had pioneered throughout the mid-90s.
Much like the aforementioned Marvel vs. Capcom brand, in King of Fighters players choose a trio of characters to take into battle. These groups would face-off against the computer’s characters one by one. However, all of the tagging in and out shenanigans found in later games of similar design is absent. This helps emphasize why it is critical to have a well-balanced collection of characters, as well as a solid plan of attack.
Everything that you would have expected to see in the arcade or console incarnations of King of Fighters ’98 is present in the iOS port. The music and art style has been meticulously emulated in a way that will continue to delight SNK fans game after game. Even moments when there would be an occasional framerate slowdown or graphical hitch have been recreated, in order to keep the action as authentic as possible.
Those that are not fans of DotEMU’s on-screen virtual controls thankfully also have the option to use a Bluetooth controller - and under most circumstances this is the most preferable manner to play. In fact, the on-screen buttons could use a little work due to the limited size of their hit zones. Additionally, the diagonal direction moves from the virtual d-pad tend to be hit-or-miss at best. As one might assume, tactile feedback of an actual controller provides a far more appealing (and visually unobstructed) way to consume each battle. Multiplayer can even be engaged in, if there is more than one controller at a player’s disposal.
Despite a few nagging control issues, King of Fighters ’98 still provides one of the most authentic fighting game experiences to date, through one of the most underrated fighting games of the 90s. As long as players have a wireless controller at their disposal, there's no reason to not indulge in this classic arcade experience.