Developer: SNK PLAYMORE
Price: $0.99
Version: 1.0.1
App Reviewed on: iPhone 4S/iPad Mini Retina

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★½☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★½☆☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★½☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

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.

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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.

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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.

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