Developer: SNK PLAYMORE
App Reviewed on: iPhone 4S/iPad Mini Retina
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The classic arcade beat-em-up King of Fighters has been given a musical twist in the newest offering from SNK games, The Rhythm of Fighters.
Players must follow the beat of the music with a selection of well-timed taps and swipes, enabling their fighter to pull off combos and special moves, until the song ends or is cut short by a KO. The game retains the same classic look of the KOF series and the animations are brilliant as always, some of which the game will put in slow-motion so players don't miss that flaming knockout punch. It's a visually effective system that expertly shifts player concentration from the buttons to the fight itself, a feat that other rhythm games often fail to incorporate, when the action in the background might as well not be there.
I actually played this game without sound the first time I picked it up. I'd forgotten my headphones (I know, what a nightmare) but thought I'd give it a go anyway. Obviously for a rhythm game that wasn't ideal, but it was still fun to watch the matches unfold. When I actually got round to playing with headphones, I wished I hadn't bothered. I know music taste is subjective, but the majority of the music that acts as not just the backdrop but the lifeline of each fight, is god-awful.
I was expecting some 8-bit drum 'n' bass, some cheesy rock, some 90's techno even, but not some terrible J-Pop nonsense which makes up over 60% of the soundtrack. It doesn't fit in with the tone of the game, nor does it add any intensity or excitement to the matches. It's just not a very universal soundtrack and that's a shame, because it detracts from the whole experience. Nostalgia might win over fans, but players unfamiliar with the 'classic' KOF tracks will probably be dissapointed. Furthermore, when I tapped in time with the beat, the game exclaimed that I had 'Just Hit' the button a little too early, whereas in fact a perfect hit was just off-beat! In the end, I was better off playing without headphones anyway.
It's true that The Rhythm of Fighters has some good points. The fight doesn't fade into the background and is always the main focus, the animations are great and I love the 80s style, but a cheesy pop soundtrack and some issues with the timing of the music and their corresponding button prompts stop it from reaching its true potential.