Like Gals’ Fighter before it, King of Fighters R-2 on the Switch eShop is well emulated and should easily please any KoF fan. This is also a special occasion as this is the first time these NeoGeo Pocket Color titles have been made available outside of their original cartridge form.
Even though the NeoGeo Pocket Color handheld system only had two buttons, it was a killer console for fighting games. Not only is every fighting game on the system built with quality, the original clicky analog stick made pulling off special moves and combos always satisfying. Thankfully, even without the awesome clicky thumbstick, KoF R-2 controls well when using a JoyCon or a Pro Controller.
It is easy to see the dedication Code Mystics has put into these NGPC re-releases as the emulation is superb and quality-of-life features are most welcomed. Want to swap button inputs? No problem. Is that screen boarder bothering you? Just change it to whatever skin you want and adjust the zoom on the fly. Having trouble with that opponent? Go ahead and use the rewind feature, we won’t judge. Even the sound has been emulated well and plays just like the mono speaker of the original hardware. One feature that isn’t advertised is the instant restart. Whether fighting a match or at the main menu screen, if you exit to the Switch home screen then boot again, the game starts exactly where you left off.
There are over 20 characters and a create-a-fighter mode; some console releases do not have this much content let alone a handheld fighting game from the late 90s with two buttons. The Making Mode has the player selecting one of the playable fighters but can customize that character with special abilities. These assignable abilities are also unlocked by performing certain conditions in the single player tournament mode and there are tons of them. Once a character has been modified, they can be used to combat usually with the odds usually stacked against the player.
Like Gals’ Fighter, fighting feels good as it strikes that balance of not being too technical so newbies can easily button mash a combo or two, but veterans have the ability to play more methodically. Once the meter at the bottom of the screen fills, the player can execute a super attack by simply pressing down + A + B. Again, this system is easy to remember and anyone can jump in and enjoy the large roster of fighters that all play differently. Two-player head-to-head has also been incorporated by using one Switch. Originally, players would needed to link two systems and two copies of the game to enjoy versus mode. This Switch version makes it easy to compete against a buddy as two players can enjoy tabletop mode or connected through the TV. This is easily a standout feature as linking with another player was extremely rare when the system was available, let alone in 2020.
King of Fighters R-2 was originally compatible with the Dreamcast as data could have been swapped between compatible games, but obviously this option isn’t activated with this Switch release if you were wondering what “DC” mode on the main menu was.
Admitting, I am not a KoF fan and only recognize a couple fighters. In fact, I do not even consider myself a fighting game fan. However, I enjoy King of Fighters R-2 and still own my original cartridge to this day. This Switch version not only makes it easy to play this forgotten and neglected game, it only costs a few bucks. Seeing these wondrous NeoGeo Pocket Color titles get a second life is also something very special and it is amazing how all these fighting games hold up and play spectacularly even with only two buttons.
Also Download: Gals’ Fighters (Switch eShop)
Better Than: some modern fighting games
Wait For It: The Last Blade (NGPC on Switch)