Fighting Games Tagged Articles RSS Feed | GameSkinny.com Fighting Games RSS Feed on GameSkinny.com https://www.gameskinny.com/ en Launch Media Network Street Fighter 6 CBT Preview: Capcom Goes for Broke https://www.gameskinny.com/xnctf/street-fighter-6-cbt-preview-capcom-goes-for-broke https://www.gameskinny.com/xnctf/street-fighter-6-cbt-preview-capcom-goes-for-broke Mon, 10 Oct 2022 15:19:59 -0400 Kenneth Seward Jr.

The excitement surrounding Capcom's Street Fighter 6 is palpable. The new characters, modes, interesting eSport features, and several returning, yet tweaked, game mechanics have all led to a single narrative – Street Fighter 6 has the potential to be one of the best games in the franchise. After spending time in the recent closed beta, I tend to agree.

Since it was announced in February 2022, SF6 has had fans clamoring to play, even more so after the gameplay that was showcased during PlayStation's June State of Play. The flashy moves and colorful characters looked amazing then and look amazing now. But none of those early looks hold a candle to what I experienced in the recent Closed Beta Test. What was advertised by Capcom more than lives up to the hype.

The closed beta test didn't provide access to the game's single-player World Tour mode. Instead, it was mostly focused on online bouts between players interacting with the Battle Hub and its associated attractions, such as a shop to buy new threads for avatars. 

It's a much-needed space given the limited pool of customizable options, especially for people of color. Despite being able to alter one's shape and size in cartoonish ways, most Black avatars sported the same dreads and afro hair options as I did. That aspect of play will probably come into its own as the game gets much closer to launch. 

The Battle Hub itself is more or less a giant 3D lobby with arcade machines, giant screens showcasing the top players based on win streaks, and places to pose while taking pictures. It's essentially a means of self-expression and a place to hang out between bouts. So, it only makes sense that players will be given more cosmetic options as things progress.

The area offers other points of interest, as well. There's a spot where you can play old-school Capcom games like Final Fight or engage in Extreme Battles, such as one where you play seesaw with one life bar while fighting over Mets (the construction workers from Mega Man) who descend onto the stage at random intervals. The most appealing thing about it, though, is how the Battle Hub enables player choice concerning traditional competitive play.

You can sit at one of the many arcade machines stationed around the room and wait for someone to join you, or go to settings and toggle causal or ranked matchmaking at will. The former option gives you time to look about, practice your moves in a training area, or join a queue and/or spectate other players while waiting your turn. The latter, of course, handles everything in the background, speeding up the process of finding an opponent.

Having multiple ways to engage in combat is ideal. One of the frustrations players have with certain modern fighters is how long it can take to get matched up. Cool-looking avatars and 3D lobbies are fine in theory, but in practice, these gimmicks tend to prolong the periods between fights. SF6 negates these problems by giving you a "quick play" option with background matchmaking. Essentially, you can check out the attractions or get right down to business. Picking a preferred character and stage before initiating this process also helps; nothing will keep you from a given bout for too long, the rare connection error notwithstanding.

The same goes for the post-fight options. Choose rematch, and seconds later, you'll be greeted with another set of rounds thanks to SF6's almost nonexistent load times. No one wants to wait around for matches to start, especially newer players looking to develop their skills; win or lose, it's all about the next fight. Of course, there are options for those who want to slow things down and screen their opponents. For instance, it's possible to check opponents' connections and other information before agreeing to the match, but it still doesn't take much time to get things started.

The absence of SF6's Fighting Ground was the only thing that marred the CBT experience. This section of the game's main menu, dedicated to solo and offline play, wasn't available during the beta, so players couldn't readily train before being thrown into matches. As mentioned, the Battle Hub does have a training option, but only to a degree. And even that can be hampered by people joining your station, their presence pulling you out of training and into a match before you're ready. With that said, there is a tips section, hidden in the menus, offering a tutorial that teaches SF6's basics, something that's needed considering all that's changed since Street Fighter 5.

Street Fighter 6 features a unique blend of old and new fighting mechanics, all of which are centered around the new Drive Gauge, a meter located below the health bar that governs the use of Focus abilities, Parries, EX-versions of special moves, and more.

The Focus attacks, now called Drive Impact, are performed by pressing the Heavy Punch and Kick buttons at the same time. The resulting powerful attack can eat through two incoming hits before connecting, causing your opponent to crumble if timed right. The Drive Parry is somewhat akin to moves in Street Fighter 3: Third Strike but simplified; holding down the Medium Punch and Kick buttons will cause you to enter a Parry state, negating attack damage from everything but grabs while slowly draining the Drive Gauge.

The EX-versions of moves function as expected. Pressing two punches or kicks when performing a special move will amplify it; projectiles might move faster across the screen, while a normal uppercut may take on flaming properties for more damage. The difference here is that these moves don't depend on your Super Art Gauge anymore. A character's most devastating attacks are no longer sacrificed for powered-up specials.

SF6's Drive Gauge successfully changes off the basic meta. Certain base aspects are still prominent thanks to a solid neutral meta full of faints, "footsies," and move priority. But this new gauge adds to the normal set of mind games typically played during matches.

Take the Drive Impact, for instance. It can now be blocked, sending opponents reeling upon contact but otherwise offering very little damage. That is unless they were backed into a corner first. Landing a Drive Impact on a blocking opponent in this case will induce a wall splat, making them vulnerable to follow-up attacks.

This move can be negated with a Drive Parry. Perform a perfect Parry by initiating the move when an attack is about to land, and you'll not only be able to counter the Impact but will also restore a portion of your own Drive Gauge. You can also use your own Drive Impact move, though the timing is tighter, upping the risk. That said, if you come out on top, you'll land a strong blow and be able to follow up shortly thereafter.

Adding to all of this is the danger of running out of steam. If you use Drive abilities too much (or get hit by Drive attacks), you'll lose meter. Lose too much and you'll Burnout, making it impossible to use your Drive for a short duration. Worse, if you get hit with a wall splat during this time, you'll become dizzy and again, be open for attack.

There's much more to the Drive system, the inner workings of which are pretty interesting and add to the competitive nature of Street Fighter. What players should ultimately know, however, is that SF6's combat feels great. Sitting somewhere between SF4 and SF5 in terms of player agency because of the lenient linking/combo mechanics and a welcoming approach to more complex maneuvers. As an avid Street Fighter fan, I found my footing quickly. Landing chained attacks, juggling opponents, canceling into supers – it was like riding a bike.

That said, newer players shouldn't have too much trouble getting a base understanding of what's going thanks to how the game telegraphs each swing before it's thrown.

The Drive Impacts, for instance, are flashy ink-filled strikes with startups that become more noticeable as you play. The same can be said of the supers. Each character has three ultimate moves, and they're all tied to a level on the Super Art Gauge. From what I've seen, most have a strong tell – the Level 2 and Level 3 moves are especially telling, given that they're more cinematic in nature. Players will more easily be able to read a situation based on how many bars an opponent has and how they'd go about setting up an attack.

The moment-to-moment fighting is further enhanced by different control schemes. A classic version presents the expected six-button step up. It allows for better control over your character's actions, potentially leading to longer combos. The Modern choice, on the other hand, ties certain specials to individual buttons making trickier maneuvers easier to pull off. So while the base level of play is open to everyone, the skill ceiling is still pretty high, making the system a win for seasoned vets and newcomers alike.

Street Fighter 6 is shaping up to be an amazing fighter. The new Drive system is wonderful in its simplicity but still allows for complex skill-based maneuvers. There seems to be more accessibility options this time around, too. SF6's rollback netcode kept matches lag-free, even when playing cross-platform. The early pool of characters not only looks great design-wise but also feels somewhat balanced.

Even the in-game commentary feature is cool. There were several repeated lines that eventually grew old, though there were moments it sounded like a real tournament-style match. You can even tweak what's said so that the commentators cheer you on while during a match. 

It's going to take some time with the full release before I can fully champion Street Fighter 6 , especially considering we haven't even experienced the World Tour mode yet. What I can say, though, is that SF6 has the potential to be the first entry in the series to best Third Strike. And that's no small feat.

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JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle R Review — So Bizarre https://www.gameskinny.com/5xkan/jojos-bizarre-adventure-all-star-battle-r-review-so-bizarre https://www.gameskinny.com/5xkan/jojos-bizarre-adventure-all-star-battle-r-review-so-bizarre Fri, 09 Sep 2022 11:49:11 -0400 Jason D'Aprile

We’re not sure if the R stands for “returns,” “retreads,” “rebounds,” or what, but JoJo is definitely back with this update of the PS3 fighter. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle R is exactly the sort of fan service we’ve come to expect when anime-based games fall into our virtual laps. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though it probably limits the audience for a fighting game that, on the whole, has a fair amount to offer.

All-Star Battle R is admittedly catering to two inter-related audiences: fans of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure and those of one-on-one fighting games. It starts off strong with a super-sized character roster of 50 distinct fighters from the show, so the odds are good if you had a favorite they’re in here. The three-button fighting system is easy enough to get right into (with light, medium, and strong attacks) and special moves feel familiar to pull off.

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle R Review — So Bizarre 

This is JoJo, however, which means a lot of eccentricities. If you’ve never seen the show, explaining the bonkers plot would take up too much space. Suffice it to say, each character has special powers (usually called Stands or Hamon) that are a bit like having a secondary entity fighting with and for you. You aren’t controlling two characters, and there’s no team-up action here, but the action lets you choose to use your Stand openly or just for special moves alternatively.

There’s a lot going on during any given match, both in terms of the actual fighting action and the landscape. Comic catchphrases pop up with illustrated panels, and characters interact in the background with short comic and cinematic sequences that can suddenly lead to hazards knocking both combatants flat. If you’re a fan already, all these extra bits will be immediately recognizable, but others are likely to be perplexed at best.

Anime and manga-stylings infuse JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure on every level. From the menu systems on, it's full of little touches and nods to the source material. Whether it’s the in-match dialogue or the characters who guide you through all the gallery extras and character customization options, there’s always some dash of style on screen.

That style is most apparent in the character design. Simply put, All-Star Battle R looks like an anime with its distinctive cell-shaded, highly animated characters and backdrops. For better or worse, it nails the at-times truly outlandish and questionable movement rhythms of its characters. So, the fighters move just like they do in the show.   

One could probably write a master’s thesis analyzing the subtexts and undertones of the character designs in JoJo, but we won’t. In short, this ain’t Tekken or Virtua Fighter. Its distinction of being a massive fighter where the men are vastly more over-sexualized than the women fighters (who seem positively tame in comparison) is appreciated, though.

With its focus on cinematic fighting, the super moves are especially noteworthy. After charging up, each character has a specific supernatural combo that deals massive damage. The effect is vividly illustrated in brief, exciting sequences that show off just how good All-Star Battle R looks. That said, more move variety per character and more special move variety in general between the fighters would have been appreciated. There’s a fair amount of overlap in similar specials among the 50 combatants.

Despite that huge roster (or maybe because of it), modes are pretty light in All-Star Battle R. The arcade mode, for instance, is a straight run-through of eight random opponents and doesn’t attempt to fashion a narrative thread. There’s no boss, no end scenes, no credits, or anything. Practice, versus, and online modes are also included, and online play works well overall.

The All-Star Battle Mode takes the place of a story or campaign mode, but it’s really just a collection of the “greatest” moments from the series adapted to one-on-one fighting. Taking plot bits from the source as an excuse to create a match (often with specific constraints or requirements), each battle is ranked at a set difficulty level. Progressing unlocks various character customization items to change up the look of your fighter or more content in the gallery. 

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle R Review — The Bottom Line 

Pros

  • Fifty different and weird fighters, including a small dog.
  • Bright, bold cinematically-styled graphics with tons of fan service.
  • Fun, easy-to-get-into fighting action.

Cons

  • A bit light modes; no real campaign or cohesive story mode.
  • Some repetition in the special moves.
  • Plenty of cringe-inducing character designs and animation ripped straight from the anime.

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle R offers plenty of characters and fun fighting action, but it's clearly aimed at fans of the anime. It’s a decent fighter all around, but there’s not quite enough depth and variety in the modes to give it the boost it needs to move beyond its "based on an anime" niche.

[Note: Bandai Namco provided the copy of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle R used for this review.]

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection Review — A Whole Shell’s Worth of Nostalgia https://www.gameskinny.com/d0tk4/teenage-mutant-ninja-turtles-the-cowabunga-collection-review-a-whole-shells-worth-of-nostalgia https://www.gameskinny.com/d0tk4/teenage-mutant-ninja-turtles-the-cowabunga-collection-review-a-whole-shells-worth-of-nostalgia Thu, 01 Sep 2022 09:56:21 -0400 Jason D'Aprile

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection is the latest compilation of games from another era and unlike Capcom’s recent arcade collections, it focuses on one obvious theme. Bringing together the 13 TMNT games from the height of the 8 and 16-bit era, this is an odd mix of titles of varying entertainment value.

The most noteworthy inclusions are the two coin-op arcade games. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the sequel, Turtles in Time, are still beat ‘em up bangers. They’re shallow and fun with constant action for up to four players. Admittedly, in direct comparison to the recent and lovingly made sequel, Shredder’s Revenge, they definitely feel their age. Still, these arcade classics are a ton of mindless bashing fun, and the inclusion of online play is a big plus.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection Review — A Whole Shell’s Worth of Nostalgia

Beyond that, the 11 console games are pretty uneven. The four NES and three Game Boy games really haven’t aged well. The NES port of the first arcade game and Tournament Fighters pale in comparison to the SNES versions, for instance, and the gameplay on all these early 8-bit titles feels incredibly clunky. It’s fun to see the Game Boy games blown up on the big screen, but it also glaringly shows off the graphic and memory limitations of the system. 

That said, if you grew up with these versions, the flood of nostalgia will still be immense. On the SNES and Genesis side, things are considerably brighter. The SNES port of Turtles in Time is especially impressive in its fidelity to the source material and even has some improvements, like boss health bars. The Genesis game, the Hyperstone Heist, feels a lot like a retooled remix of Turtles in Time, but also looks and plays very well. That said, between the four arcade-style games, there isn’t a lot in the way of gameplay variation. 

This collection also vividly displays the era when developers made completely different games for different systems. While both versions of Tournament Fighters are essentially Street Fighter-like 2D fighters, the SNES version is completely different from the Genesis one. Different characters, different plots, different levels and gameplay. The Genesis version has Casey Jones and April, for instance, while the SNES version (which has a larger roster) has Shredder. These fighters both hold up remarkably well.

The Hyperstone Heist and SNES version of Tournament Fighters also support online play for two players, though all the multiplayer-centric games here support local multiplayer for two to four. There’s the Turtle’s Lair included, which is essentially a kind of virtual museum for the collection. Here you’ll find a variety of things like tons of concept art, box art, manuals, strategy guides, music, and even still shots of the various shows and comics. 

The Lair is ultimately a bit disappointing, though. More depth beyond just animation still frames and comic book covers, for instance, would have be nice. While the legal rights would probably have been a nightmare, including some episodes and issues in full would have really made it feel more complete.

Finally, each title has a sort of cheats/mod menu that varies from game to game. Most of them offer the ability to turn on a god mode and select the starting level. Many of the NES and Game Boy games have an option to turn off flickering and slowdown (the ports are very accurate to the source material), along with some other fun ways to alter things. There’s even the ability to rewind during play, which is always a welcome option in classic games.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection Review — The Bottom Line

Pros

  • A very complete collection with 13 games across five platforms.
  • The TMNT arcade and fighting games are still remarkably fun.
  • Online play for several games and some nice cheat options.
  • Lots of concept and sketch art for fans of that sort of thing.

Cons

  • A lot of sameness in the gameplay.
  • NES and GB games are really rough to play in modern times.
  • Turtle’s Lair museum is a bit light on content.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection is likely only going to appeal to those who grew up with these titles or possibly those just really into the Turtles. It’s a very complete collection showing the evolution of the series through multiple platforms, and some of the games remain fun, but overall, this is more of an historical curiosity than a classic must-play.

[Note: Konami provided the copy of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection used for this review.]

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River City Saga: Three Kingdoms Review — Different Streets, Same Fight https://www.gameskinny.com/wlaps/river-city-saga-three-kingdoms-review-different-streets-same-fight https://www.gameskinny.com/wlaps/river-city-saga-three-kingdoms-review-different-streets-same-fight Mon, 25 Jul 2022 11:42:55 -0400 Thomas Wilde

I don't how you'd react to River City Saga: Three Kingdoms if you weren't a massive River City Ransom mark as a kid. Three Kingdoms essentially is River City Ransom. Both games are free-roaming beat-'em-ups with simple graphics and goofy humor, but in Saga, you're rampaging across 8-bit, 3rd-century China instead of an urban setting.

It's also janky as hell, and in 2022, that feels like a choice someone had to make. My nostalgia goggles are working overtime here, so I'm still prepared to recommend River City Saga (RCS). Still, I can see why someone without a long-time, unquestioning affection for the series might not want to bother.

River City Saga: Three Kingdoms Review — Different Streets, Same Fight

The first problem I encountered was the Steam version refusing to recognize my wired Xbox controller. Instead of being able to plug in an Xbox pad and get to work, I had to browbeat RCS into playing nicely with a DualShock 4. I haven't had problems like this with a Steam game in years.

I might've tried playing with the keyboard instead, but that was a non-starter. By default, you use WASD to move, with K/I/L as attack buttons. It's like using an old emulator to play some forgotten SNES beat-'em-up. While you can freely remap the key bindings, RCS also doesn't say what its default keys are. I spent my first minute with the game trying to figure out which button started the game, and neither Enter nor the space bar worked.

After that initial, bizarre roadblock, I found RCS comfortably familiar. It's set up as an entry in the long-running Kunio-kun franchise, which is best represented outside of Japan by River City Ransom and, more recently, River City Girls. Instead of the more vaguely Japanese urban environment typically associated with these games, RCS retells Romance of the Three Kingdoms, with all the big-name roles filled by recognizable Kunio-kun characters.

If you've played a Dynasty Warriors game or the last Total War, you know how RotTK goes. This is a chaotic, turbulent period in Chinese history, with numerous warlords feuding for power, which has been immortalized in an influential classic Chinese novel.

Kunio himself plays the part of Guan Yu, who allies with Liu Bei (Gouda) and Zhang Fei (Godai) to fight off the Yellow Bandit Rebellion. That draws the three of them into period conflicts as volunteers, mercenaries, captains, and finally, generals.

It's a weird look overall, like a Saturday morning cartoon adaptation of the Warring States period. This is a version of Three Kingdoms where three guys, one of whom is objectively a moron, routinely beat up entire military battalions, and where Guan Yu invented the dropkick, powerbomb, and elbow drop in 220 AD. The famous horse Red Hare is represented by a motorcycle. It's all pretty silly, even before you unlock the ability to kick so hard you create a tornado.

If you've played River City Ransom, or more likely River City Girls, Saga is a deliberately retro-styled game in the same vein.

There's an open map of China, where every path through the countryside is primarily bandits by volume. Enemies come at you in packs of half a dozen or more and turn into bouncing coins when you knock them out. You can spend those coins to buy meals, equipment, or skill books that rapidly increase your combat potential.

Much like Ransom or Girls, Saga is arguably its most challenging in the first 10 minutes, before you've unlocked any decent moves. Then it just hands you the dropkick, and suddenly, you're the pro-wrestling champion of ancient China.

The general idea behind RCS is that it's the Kunio-kun take on the frantic, you-vs-an-army gameplay in Koei Tecmo's various Warriors games. Once you have any skills at all, Kunio can plow through a handful of enemies at once, and if he's got backup, a fight can degenerate into a frantic mess of pixels and numbers.

You're encouraged to mix up your tactics to find the most degenerate nonsense you can to murder an entire crowd before it has the chance to kill you. When a lot of people compete to punch you, somebody's gonna' land one, and it's your job to cheat as hard as you can to avoid that. That's the theory, anyway, because RCS has a strange underbaked quality to it, where you can see what it's going for and even have some fun, but it can be a slog.

Playing on the medium difficulty, Moderate, you easily end up out-leveling any of the threats you run into, assuming you do any fighting you don't strictly have to. For most of the game, I rarely ran into an enemy that could do more than 1 point of damage per hit, because I was typically well ahead of the game's intended power curve.

If you hit a difficulty spike, you have a number of useful tools to even the odds until your stats are up to par.

You can heal on the fly with food from your inventory, and you have a variety of Ultimate moves that let you wipe out at least a few enemies in a hurry. There are also a couple of busted skills, like Aura Punch, that "level" the field, and the new Tactics moves, while difficult to recharge and fickle, can wipe out an entire pack of enemies in a single blast.

Once you learn Water Tactics in particular, the game might as well roll the credits. Some bosses won't readily survive a dose of Water Tactics, and if you play your cards right, you can use it twice in a row.

The power curve in River City games is traditionally a lot sharper than this. It can be fun to hunt down all the bizarre skills and find interesting combinations for them, particularly in the late game when the war heats up and the opposition gets correspondingly fierce. RCS is even fond of pulling out Street Fighter-style ki moves, which isn't typical for the series.

That does leave the game in a strange position. Enemies can only slow you down by constantly blocking or catching you in multi-part juggle attacks. It's easy to get caught off-balance and repeatedly pummeled by six or seven opponents at once, where you're only given brief windows to counterattack before you're knocked flat again.

They're rarely inflicting enough damage to matter, so all they can do is drag out every fight to the point of irritation. It's a systemic issue, and playing on a higher difficulty doesn't help.

You also run into a few platforming challenges that aren't quite up to what Saga's engine can accomplish. It's fine when navigating gauntlets of automated traps — Han Dynasty China also had those; read a book — but the toughest thing in River City Saga is arguably navigating a few narrow ledges or moving barges.

The system is just not set up for accurate jumping, which gets annoying when you have to do it for any sustained period. There's almost no punishment for failure, so you'll get it eventually, but it's obnoxious that you have to do it at all.

River City Saga: Three Kingdoms Review — The Bottom Line

Pros

  • A pure blast of 8-bit nostalgia.
  • Just some silly fun.
  • Co-op mode.
  • Some varied gameplay changes up the festival of beatdowns.
  • Good music.
  • It's trying something weird and new for the series, at least.

Cons

  • The Steam version plays poorly with controllers.
  • Strange default keybindings.
  • Unavoidably repetitive.
  • Really coasting on nostalgia.
  • Runs out of steam around the end of Chapter 4.

I don't have it in me to hate River City Saga, because it is a modern River City Ransom with a few coats of paint and a few useful tweaks. It's a sillier, more colorful version of one of my favorite childhood games.

Despite my complaints, I like a lot about it; it's got a freeform, dynamic fighting system made to be deliberately broken for chuckles. More importantly, it's genuinely charming a lot of the time. There's a feeling to much of it, especially towards the end, like a community theater production of Romance of the Three Kingdoms put on by a troupe of actors trying to make each other laugh.

At the end of the day, though, I have to admit it wore me down. Its platforming doesn't work; its fighting is repetitive; it has a bizarre power curve; and the further you get into it, the less interesting it is. My affection for River City/Kunio-kun games pulled me through to the end, but there's a lot about River City Saga that just does not work as well as it should.

[Note: Arc System Works provided the copy of River City Saga: Three Kingdoms used for this review.]

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Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium Review: Pixel Memories https://www.gameskinny.com/2fkhg/capcom-arcade-2nd-stadium-review-pixel-memories https://www.gameskinny.com/2fkhg/capcom-arcade-2nd-stadium-review-pixel-memories Fri, 15 Jul 2022 09:35:16 -0400 Jason D'Aprile

With their third pack of arcade classics, Capcom has potentially reached peak nostalgia. Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium adds 32 more games to their run of classic collections, across a whole field of genres. For those that really love this kind of thing (like, say, me), it’s a brilliant pile of old-school goodness.

Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium Review: Pixel Memories

Hot on the heels of their recent Capcom Fighting Collection2nd Stadium adds a slew of favorites. Side-scroller hack n’ bashers include Magic Sword, the King of Dragons, Knights of the Round, Black Tiger, and Tiger Road. Scrolling shooters include classics like 1943 Kai, Last Duel, ECO Fighters, Hyper Dyne Side Arms, Gan Sumoku, and Savage Bees, along with Gunsmoke and Hissatsu Buraiken. There are a few puzzlers, racers and sports games, like the Speed Rumbler, Rally 2011 LED Storm, Block Block, Pnickies, Capcom Sports Club, and Saturday Night Slam Masters, as well. 

Finally, 2nd Stadium includes a surprising number of fighters given Capcom just dropped that collection separately. More obscure releases like Megaman: The Power Battle and Megaman 2: The Power Fighters, alongside the original Street Fighter and all three Street Fighter Alpha games, are welcome, but there are some redundancies for those who bought the Fighting Collection.

2nd Stadium also includes several of the titles already in the Fighting Collection itself. Darkstalkers, Nightwarriors, Vampire Saviors, Super Gem Fighter Mini Mix, Hyper Street Fighter II Anniversary Edition are all superfluous inclusions if you own both collections. And, of course, you could buy the games in 2nd Stadium separately; the initial download for 2nd Stadium is free and comes with Sonson, a goofy side-scroller. 
 

Much like the original Capcom Arcade Stadium, there is a host of features that greatly increases the enjoyment of playing arcade games at home. The 3D-rendered arcade machine cabinet interface remains as well, though you can customize the visuals in key ways to suit your tastes, such as adjusting the visuals with retro filters. There is also a variety of screen border options, online leaderboards, and difficulty and speed settings. Best of all, the rewind button returns, which helps make up for all those reflexes some of us have lost in the intervening decades. Finally, most of the games include both the English and Japanese version of the ROMs. 

The appeal of a collection like this is admittedly dependent on your need for retro nostalgia. Game design has come a long way since the days when coin-op was king. The primary design focus for most of the games in this collection was to make players feed quarters into a machine. Some games are just long and hard enough to be brutal, but not necessarily rage-inducingly frustrating. 

So, the general tone is on short, frantic experiences, usually with multiple players. To that end, local (though not online) play is supported, so gems like Knights of the Round and King of Dragons can be the three-player brawling adventures that made them classics to begin with. 

Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium Review — The Bottom Line

Pros

  • Impressive array of classic Capcom arcade games covering a wide range of genres.
  • Excellent presentation and customizing options.
  • Rewind button is my new best friend.
  • Lots of great action for both single-player and local multiplayer sessions.

Cons

  • No online multiplayer.
  • Includes several games from the Fighting Collection.

Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium continues in the fine tradition of the original Stadium with a great collection of classic coin-op games. While these retro compilations are largely for the overly nostalgic older gamer, there’s a lot of great action to be had here, especially with friends playing in the same room. 

[Note: Capcom provided the copy of Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium used for this review.]

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Capcom Fighting Collection Review: Nostalgia Packs a Powerful Punch https://www.gameskinny.com/txvtp/capcom-fighting-collection-review-nostalgia-packs-a-powerful-punch https://www.gameskinny.com/txvtp/capcom-fighting-collection-review-nostalgia-packs-a-powerful-punch Sat, 25 Jun 2022 17:18:38 -0400 Jason D'Aprile

Street Fighter II, as the name implies, didn't start the fighting game genre, but it certainly propelled it into the mainstream collective of the 1990s. Since then, Capcom has been riding that wave with various franchises, sequels, reworks, and countless variations on the theme. For those who grew up in that generation, a lot of those games are forever etched with love in our memories.

It's this demographic that the Capcom Fighting Collection is uniquely geared to. The 10 fighting games from the 90s in this collection might not cover the entirety of Capcom's fighters, but they offer some great examples of why this genre still endures. More importantly, it means that modern systems can play the entire Darkstalkers series, which is a damn compelling reason to rush over and download this pack right now.

Capcom Fighting Collection Review: 35 Years of Kicking Ass

Darkstalkers: The Night Warriors was first released in 1994. It was a supernatural monster-themed take on SF2 with familiar controls and an array of wild, wonderful characters. From Frankenstein's monster, a succubus, a cat girl, vampire, and werewolf to a zombie, Japanese yokai spirits, and even Sasquatch, it made other fighting game rosters look pedestrian.

There are five Darkstalkers arcade games here, including Night Warriors: Darkstalker's Revenge, Vampire Savior, and, for the first time in the West, the Japanese-only Vampire Hunter 2 and Vampire Savior 2. Characters from that series have appeared in other Capcom fighters and 2013 saw Darkstalkers Resurrection on the PS3 and Xbox 360, but having the complete series in one place is very nearly enough to make this collection worth the price on its own.

Thankfully, there are several other additions just as noteworthy. While Hyper Street Fighter II isn't that exciting, the adorably creative Super Gem Fighter Mini Mix and weird off-shoot competitive puzzler, Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo, are still tons of fun to play.

Cyberbots is another obscure fighting gem, where characters in mech suits battle across a sci-fi universe. It never got the attention it deserved on consoles in the West, but the crisp, responsive fighting action still feels top-notch.

Finally, there's Red Earth, a beyond obscure game that was never released outside of arcades and was like finding a unicorn in one. A strange blend of standard fighting game mechanics and role-playing, Red Earth is a remarkably ambitious piece of work. Released in 1996, it was the first game to use Capcom's CP System III hardware (which would propel Street Fighter III to popularity). There are only four characters to choose from — a sorceress, half-man/half-lion warrior, a ninja, and a Chinese martial artist. In the quest mode, Red Earth proved itself nearly radical in design.

You can write down save codes when you lose a battle against the eight CPU-controlled boss-like opponents, which lets you continue where you left off. As your fighter progresses, they'll go up in level, earning new moves and stat-boosts. Random chests appear during the fight to provide special moves and food for a health boost. It even includes multiple endings based on a variety of factors (such as the number of continues used and even player actions) and, most surprisingly, fatalities.

The bosses have an extended health bar and your health carries over after a successful fight. If you lose to a boss and continue, their health will be roughly where it was when you lost. There's a ton of strange and innovative elements in Red Earth, most largely designed to keep players plugging quarters in. 

Playing the game now, it's still remarkable. The character design is particularly stunning. Your opponents are, much like in Darkstalkers, specifically-themed creatures largely from mythology. There's a massive oni (Japanese ogre), a hybrid sphinx/chimera, a wild kraken-like water creature, a Central-American-themed robotic statue, and even a T-rex dragon beast, among other surprises.

The biggest complaint is (as yet) there's no way to really open the game up to play as the bosses in versus mode, but as an historical artifact, Red Earth is superb.

Of course, the biggest blanket addition to all these games is the inclusion of online play, so you can battle with strangers. There's plenty of nostalgia to unlock in the museum, too, such as music tracks and concept art. A variety of video filters lets you make the games look perfectly retro.

Capcom Fighting Collection Review – The Bottom Line 

Pros

  • All of the Darkstalker arcade games, finally!
  • Red Earth, never released on consoles anywhere, is terrific and weird.
  • Familiar, great controls and online play make this a complete package.

Cons

  • A bit pricey for a retro collection.
  • Hyper Street Fighter II is the least interesting and original game here and takes a slot for something else. 
  • An enhanced version of Red Earth to unlock the CPU characters would have been excellent.

For fighting game lovers, the Capcom Fighting Collection is a treasure trove of '90s goodness. Aside from finally being able to play the Darkstalkers series again, the inclusion of Red Earth, Cyberbots, and others makes this a thoroughly entertaining package.

[Note: Capcom provided the copy of the Capcom Fighting Collection used for this review.]

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Persona 4 Arena Ultimax Review: Almost Fighting Fit https://www.gameskinny.com/uki7n/persona-4-arena-ultimax-review-almost-fighting-fit https://www.gameskinny.com/uki7n/persona-4-arena-ultimax-review-almost-fighting-fit Mon, 21 Mar 2022 14:26:05 -0400 Josh Broadwell

If it’s been ages since you’ve seen your friends, you naturally envision the reunion a certain way. Everyone’s happy, the setting is just right, and food is probably involved. But there’s definitely no psychotic bear throwing people into a television and humiliating them in fight club matches.

There’s a vast gulf between the ideal and the real in Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, though, and there is indeed a crazed bear broadcasting fistfights between your friends’ inner selves while giving them embarrassing titles.

If the narrative setup sounds a bit stretched, that’s because it is. Persona 4 Arena Ultimax’s story is an odd blend of “here’s where they are now” and an interesting, if underdeveloped, narrative around a new and complex villain. Story is normally not what you play a fighting game for, but it’s a central focus in P4UA outside of the arcade modes.

The fighting itself is top-notch, though, a thrilling blend of chaos and skill that never gets old. It's just a shame the story lets it down so much.

Persona 4 Arena Ultimax Review: Almost Fighting Fit

P4AU picks up with Yu, Persona 4’s protagonist, heading back to Inaba for Golden Week celebrations with his cousin and uncle. It’s just months after the original game’s events end, and this is already where P4A Ultimax’s conflicts begin. 

The Persona 4 nostalgia hits hard when Yu steps off the train and the Inaba backdrop comes into view – but there’s genuinely no reason to even be there. The Midnight Channel starts broadcasting again that night, as you knew it would thanks to the extended foreshadowing that takes up the previous 10 minutes of the game, and having the phenomenon you put an end to in the original P4 make a reappearance for the sequel just feels a bit cheap.

The broader story is more interesting, a surprisingly deep and, well, Persona-like narrative you wouldn’t expect from a fighting game. It’s as much a sequel to Persona 3 as it is to Persona 4 and follows one of the Kirijo lab’s experiment subjects, a violent young man named Sho.

Though a bit more involved, Sho’s quest is to find acceptance and meaning in a world where everyone discarded him. There's also a sub-plot with Adachi, with Sho's artificially implanted Persona, and with yet another all-powerful being who wants to use human weakness as a vessel for destroying the world. Oh, and there's a clone of Aigis who isn't Aigis and ends up working for both sides. It's complicated.

The problem is you never get a chance to identify with Sho like you do with most Persona characters, which means the message is a bit underdeveloped, and the delivery clumsier than in mainline Persona games.

On the other hand, the plotline and the characters it involves make for a satisfying follow-up to some of Persona 3’s loose ends, which leaves its characters and even some major plot points without any conclusion. Persona 4’s cast plays a role, though it’s weaker, and I can’t help but think they were only added because that game is more popular than Persona 3

The writing lets the narrative down as well. Characters often repeat themselves needlessly or labor far too long over simple concepts. The tone and style also feel looser and more stilted than usual. It wouldn’t be a noteworthy problem, but Persona 4 Arena Ultimax has dozens of lengthy cutscenes that take far more time than the actual battles.

When you do get to fight – or if you just ignore story mode – P4UA is a completely different and absolutely fantastic fighting game. Each character has a set of basic moves, including heavy and normal attacks, specials, grabs, and dodges, and because it’s Persona, you can also weave in special Persona attacks. It’s easy to master – in tutorial mode.

There’s a nearly limitless number of combos you can weave together, though if you’re new to the genre, you’ll probably be like me and learn them from being on the receiving end. Persona 4 Arena battles are tough, and there’s a definite learning curve if you’re unused to this style of fighting game.

Smacking people with a sword and using some lightning attacks still works, though few things compare to the satisfaction of pulling off a good combo – partly because it means you actually remembered how to do it. Each (living) main character from Persona 3 and Persona 4 has a unique skillset, and it’s simply a blast to play.

If you’re here for the fights and not the story, Golden Mode is a must. It’s essentially a series of ever-escalating challenges where you fight through dozens of battles against other characters and their Persona alts. It’s easily the game’s best mode and a good excuse to soak in the excellent pixel art and pre-rendered backgrounds. Whatever else Persona 4 Arena Ultimax may be, the artwork is absolutely gorgeous.

Persona 4 Arena Ultimax Review: The Verdict

Pros

  • Top-notch fighting systems.
  • Golden Mode is brilliant fun.
  • Gorgeous art style.
  • Interesting narrative premise.
  • The basic gremlin in me is just happy to see Persona 3 characters again.

Cons

  • Story gets a bit convoluted and never develops its themes.
  • The Persona 4 portion is welcome but feels tacked on.
  • Writing is of a lower quality than you expect from the series, and there's soo much of it.
  • No rollback Netcode for Steam and Switch is a huge bummer.

Nearly 10 years after its original release, Persona 4 Arena Ultimax's fighting is still superb. The satisfaction of finally understanding a character's move pool is matched only by actually pulling them off in battle, and Golden Mode and online battles mean you get plenty of chances for both whether you're playing solo or not.

It makes the decision to wrap all this around such a mixed and underdeveloped story even more baffling, but there's still more than enough to justify stepping into the ring.

[Note: Atlus provided the copy of Persona 4 Arena Ultimax used for this review]

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It's Showtime: Capcom Announces Street Fighter 6, Capcom Fighting Collection https://www.gameskinny.com/af7el/its-showtime-capcom-announces-street-fighter-6-capcom-fighting-collection https://www.gameskinny.com/af7el/its-showtime-capcom-announces-street-fighter-6-capcom-fighting-collection Mon, 21 Feb 2022 18:08:53 -0500 Jonathan Moore

Capcom has announced that the next installment in the storied Street Fighter franchise is in development. Street Fighter 6 was revealed following the culmination of the Capcom Pro Tour. 

Aside from the announcement itself, Cpacom shared a brief, 40-second teaser trailer that shows Ryu facing off against Luke, who Capcom said will "have a key role in the next Street Fighter project." Outside of that, there's not much more info to go on at this point.

There's currently no word on a launch window or what platforms the fighting game may appear on. Capcom did say there would be more news to share sometime this summer. 

Alongside the news of Street Fighter 6's existence, Capcom also revealed that the Capcom Fighting Collection would be arriving on June 24, 2022, for PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. The compilation title will be sold digitally and physically for $39.99 and bundled with the Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection for $59.99. include 10 games: 

  • Darkstalkers: The Night Warriors
  • Night Warriors: Darkstalkers' Revenge
  • Vampire Savior: The Lord of Vampire
  • Vampire Hunter 2: Darkstalkers' Revenge
  • Vampire Savior 2: The Lord of Vampire
  • Hyper Street Fighter II: The Anniversary Edition
  • Super Gem Fighter Minimix
  • Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo
  • Red Earth
  • Cyberbots: Fullmetal Madness

Aside from the hype surrounding the inclusion of Darkstalkers games, the release will also mark the first time that Vampire Hunter 2 and Vampire Savior 2 have been released in the West, as pointed out by Capcom U.S.A. Senior Community Manager Yuri Araujo over on the PlayStation Blog.

Stay tuned for more on Street Fighter 6 and the Capcom Fighting Collection. You can learn more about the latter title over here

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King of Fighters XV Review: Teamwork is What’s Gonna' Work https://www.gameskinny.com/0oma9/king-of-fighters-xv-review-teamwork-is-whats-gonna-work https://www.gameskinny.com/0oma9/king-of-fighters-xv-review-teamwork-is-whats-gonna-work Mon, 14 Feb 2022 10:35:52 -0500 Jason D'Aprile

Thanks to the recent re-release of King of Fighters XIV (on PlayStation 4, anyway), it might not seem like it’s been that long since the last entry in this long-running SNK series. Fans have eagerly awaited the evolution of the series since it was King of Fighters XV was announced during EVO 2019. KoF XV has finally arrived and the results are likely to please fighting game lovers everywhere.

KoF XV feels more like an upgrade of the last game. It’s more polished and shinier, offering mostly mild enhancements and changes to the familiar fighting mechanics. The updates to the combat “systems” will probably only be noticeable to long-time fans, but the important thing for anyone else is there are more special moves than ever. 

King of Fighters XV Review: Teamwork is What’s Gonna' Work

The new Shatter Strike lets players counterattack with the classic quarter-circle forward. KoF XIV’s Max Mode returns with upgrades. Max strengthens a fighter’s attack and Guard Crush strength by using a leveled-up power gauge, which builds during combat. A new Quick Max Mode has been added, which chains to Max mode activation by landing a hit immediately. This, in turn, opens up the chance to start a combo immediately. 

There are a lot of decidedly technical aspects to KoF XV like this, including a veritable avalanche of special move types: EX and Super Special moves, MAX Super Special Moves, Climax Super Special Moves… you get the idea. There’s also the Rush Mode, where mashing light punch causes a flurry combo attack. 

None of these additions make KoF XV feel particularly fresh. The core gameplay and bulk of the impressive 39 character roster (across 13 teams) are all very familiar for anyone who’s played the earlier games. That’s not a particular criticism. No one expects a sequel like this to completely revamp itself, especially not in arcade fighting. Suffice to say, KoF XV plays well. The action is intense, the controls are precise, and the range of characters, special moves, and fighting styles ensure there’s plenty of depth.

KoF XV takes excellent advantage of the Unreal engine. It uses an almost cell-shaded anime art style for its characters. The fighters are still fully 3D, but the sharp, vividly colorful visuals and smooth animation lend a distinctive feel on the whole. Character designs are largely the same as ever, with a variety of bombastic designs for the various hard fighting men and women.

There’s a bit of improvement in the outrageousness of some of the women fighters in particular. A few iffy designs really stand out; Angel seems to be a cowgirl-themed stripper and Shermie, well… I don’t know, except someone at SNK has certain distinctive tastes. We could bring up Mai, the top-heavy ninja, but at this point, we feel only pity for the sheer amount of back pain she must be in at this point.

The backdrops are still basically 2D to match the gameplay, but some of the new arenas are simply gorgeous. Long-time SNK fans will also appreciate the addition of a Metal Slug-themed area. The soundtrack is excellent, and the score is impressively varied, though the voice work is largely still all in Japanese. 

The story mode continues the tale of a strange otherworldly invader from KoF XIV and ends in a surprisingly interesting (if potentially frustrating) end boss sequence. There are training and practice modes and a versus mode for coach players or just against the AI, but the real meat is in the online play.

Playing in either ranked or casual matches is simple enough, but KoF XV requires you to select your team ahead of time, and it’s an oddly complicated affair. The team management and selection options are a little too buried in the profile options, making it bizarrely inconvenient to perform the basic function of picking your characters.

Likely still gun shy over problems with the online performance of KoF XIV at initial launch, SNK is adamant the net code has been improved further. We were frustratingly unable to test this, but given how smoothly XIV’s Ultimate Edition played online, hopefully, such problems are in the past.

King of Fighters XV Review — The Bottom Line

Pros

  • Great looking and playing 3-on-3 fighting action.
  • Very cool end boss.
  • Surprising depth of play mechanics with a huge character roster and list of specials.
  • Wide range of gameplay modes both on and offline.

Cons

  • Feels like more of an upgrade than a full sequel, with little new to offer.
  • Online lobby setup is oddly confusing and reliant on the preset fighter teams.
  • If you’re above the age of 14, some of the character designs are real damn iffy.

King of Fighters XV completes the storyline from the previous game but doesn’t mark any significant changes otherwise. It’s an excellent overall fighter and likely to find some pull on the tournament circuit. Yet, at this point, we can’t help but feel like this is all something we’ve played many times before.

[Note: SNK and Koch Media provided the copy of King of Fighters XV used for this review.]

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Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl Review: Great Fundamentals https://www.gameskinny.com/ids69/nickelodeon-all-star-brawl-review-great-fundamentals https://www.gameskinny.com/ids69/nickelodeon-all-star-brawl-review-great-fundamentals Wed, 13 Oct 2021 13:53:36 -0400 Kenneth Seward Jr.

Platform fighters will always face unfair comparisons and be labeled as clones. It's an entire subgenre perpetually held to the standard of Nintendo’s monster IP, Super Smash Bros. Thankfully, this notion hasn’t stifled development.

On the contrary, it’s actually helped inspire games like Ludosity and Fair Play Labs’ Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl. The desire to make All-Star Brawl into something that could potentially rival Smash in terms of quality is evident within the first match or two. The fighting is solid.

There are a few issues, however, that keep All-Star Brawl from shining as brightly as it could.

Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl Review: Great Fundamentals

As a platform fighter, Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl’s foundation is comprised of all the usual elements. Bouts take place in 2D arenas with floating platforms, a moving camera, and the occasional environmental hazard. Life bars are absent, replaced by percentages that count up as players take damage.

A high percentage doesn’t necessarily equate to instant death but rather the distance a character will fly when hit; the accumulation of damage makes players more prone to being knocked off a given stage.

The goal here is to send rivals flying in a manner that makes it impossible for them to return to the arena. This can be done with well-placed attacks in mid-air that prevent opponents from grabbing onto a ledge or a powerful strike that sends them to the corner of the screen, resulting in an instant KO.

The amount of damage needed for these maneuvers to work varies. Because of this, players will want to keep their percentages low while increasing the percentages of their opponents.

All-Star Brawl also offers a familiar control scheme: a jump, grab, block, special, and a few attack buttons. Quick light attacks are great for chipping away at freshly spawned foes. The slower strong attacks are better used after building up a bit of damage, as they’ll send enemies careening.

Both sets of attacks are directional-based; holding up and pressing the strong attack button hits airborne players, launching them upwards, for instance. The same goes for the special button. Pressing it while neutral can send out a projectile while holding up, and hitting it offers a lifesaving third jump.

Again, these are the things we’d expect from a platform fighter. There are some interesting bits that flavor All-Star Brawl’s combat, though.

Take the block button. Usually, players can only block every so often before becoming vulnerable; constant hits weaken their defense. In All-Star Brawl, it’s possible to block somewhat indefinitely, with the mechanic balanced by a player’s proximity to a ledge.

When blocking attacks, players are constantly pushed backward. If pushed while close to the edge of a platform, they start to teeter over, becoming vulnerable and unable to attack for a few seconds. It's a wrinkle that allows the aggressor to attack or grab them freely.

Speaking of grabbing, All-Star Brawl lets every character grab a rival’s projectile and throw it back at them. It’s also possible to hit projectiles back and forth using basic attacks, with each hit increasing a projectile’s speed and power. Of course, this doesn’t work for AoE moves, though. It isn’t possible to knock back Reptar’s ground-based fire breath, for instance. But overall, these mechanics allow for some interesting moments that are often tied to specific characters in other games.

Another unique feature here is the ability to strafe. By holding down L/L1/LB or the right Ctrl button, it’s possible to move a character in one direction while facing another. This can be used to evade enemies while throwing projectiles their way or as a strategy to fool them by suddenly changing directions mid jump, causing them to walk into an attack.

These types of maneuverers are amplified by wave-dashing and an intriguing rock-paper-scissors attack system. Pressing block while jumping causes players to airdash. Press both buttons while on the ground, and they’ll wave-dash, speeding up their movements to avoid attacks and/or close the distance between them and opponents.

The rock-paper-scissors system is centered on clashing strong attacks – where two players simultaneously land hits during a fight – giving one player an advantage over the other. For instance, a neutral (or Mid) strong attack will beat out an Up attack, forcing the other player to face the opposite direction.

On the other hand, an Up attack beats Down, making the downward attacking opponent spin about, effectively stunning them. A similar thing happens when a Down attack beats a Mid.

All-Star Brawl has the fundamentals needed to make it a compelling fighter. And for the most part, it succeeds. Trading blows is always entertaining. There aren’t any contestable items like in Smash or Brawlhalla. Still, bouts are often chaotic, with players sending each other flying to and fro.

The roster of characters is generational in scope, welcoming to fans who grew up on shows like Ren & Stimpy, Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, The Loud House, and SpongeBob SquarePants. Most of the maps are well designed, the best of which are those that really utilize a given Nickelodeon IP. Essentially, on a basic level, Ludosity and Fair Play Labs did a solid job in this department.

Nostalgia Abridged

While All-Star Brawl is mostly a good time waiting to happen, it is a little rough around the edges. For one, there isn't any voice work or much in the way of a classic soundtrack. The original music is nice, and some of it pulls from certain shows (the Aaahh!! Real Monsters’ scream is used to great effect), but many classics are missing. It seems odd; if Nick allowed these characters in a fighter, wouldn’t it allow their music to be used as well?

The game’s finer details make up for most of this. Seeing Ren & Stimpy do the Happy Happy Joy Joy dance when they win a match or noticing Grandpa sleep on a bench in the Rugrats-playground-themed map never gets old. There is a lot to like here. Unfortunately, All-Star Brawl can be a pain to play sometimes.

All-Star Brawl’s rollback netcode – a connection framework that helps prevent latency by correcting/rolling back data – usually works well. However, there are times when the game desyncs during a fight. Players can completely disconnect from one another, continuing the match separately until it crashes them back to the lobby. You can tell it’s happening because your opponent will either stand in one place or constantly run in one direction.  

This desync issue occurs often enough to frustrate. This is especially true in larger lobbies. Having four players battle while a few spectate is asking for trouble. The problems don’t stop there, though. There are times when players in a lobby can’t join a match, and framerate dips can make the game unplayable for 10-15 seconds, resulting in a missed attack or death via a poor jump.

These types of problems negate your desire to keep playing. Local play is fine, sure. But most will want to play online, given the world’s current state. There aren’t many options beyond the game’s bare-bones Arcade mode. Meaning that when the online issues show up, it’s easy to forgo playing All-Star Brawl for something else.   

The good news is that the developers are keeping an eye on things. Sporting a fan-led vibe – supported by comments from Fair Play Labs’ Markus Villalobos about how they’ll properly listen to/incorporate feedback – the game was designed to grow into a competitively complete product eventually. Hopefully, All-Star Brawl's online play will improve with time.

Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl Review – The Bottom Line

Pros

  • Solid platform fighter mechanics
  • Unique gameplay elements that shake things up
  • Good cast of characters
  • Potentially fun nostalgia trip

Cons

  • Online issues
  • No voice overs/classic music
  • Lacks compelling solo modes

Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl is an entertaining platform fighter. It bleeds nostalgia, has a good roster of characters, and plays uniquely enough to stand on its own for casual and competitive players alike.

The online portions are great when things are working. There isn’t much to do when they aren't, beyond playing local matches and the lackluster Arcade mode. Thankfully, All-Star Brawl was made with updates in mind.

[Note: GameMill Entertainment provided the copy of Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl used for this review.]

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Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl: Best Characters Tier List https://www.gameskinny.com/ga2ys/nickelodeon-all-star-brawl-best-characters-tier-list https://www.gameskinny.com/ga2ys/nickelodeon-all-star-brawl-best-characters-tier-list Mon, 11 Oct 2021 10:31:35 -0400 Serhii Patskan

Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl has ignited the powerful flames of nostalgia to draw the fighting game community and gamers at large to draw people in like moths to a flame. Not all of the game's 20 characters are created equal, though, and some are definitely better than others as you're about to see in this Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl tier list.

This guide will list all the best characters in Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl through several tiers. It's can be hard to pinpoint which character is the best in the game due to the variety of moves, but this list should help you make the choice quicker.

Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl: S-Tier Characters

Nigel Thornberry

This friendly-looking zoologist is actually the most dangerous character in the game due to his unique moves and mobility features.

His best move is The Worm that dodges practically anything thrown at you by the enemies, including projectiles. It can also serve as a reliable combo breaker.

You can also just outright block out your enemies with the Falcon Dive move, or his Woodpecker jump. While his infamous combo of What's Over There and Flick moves is known for landing powerful KOs every time.

At the same time, it is almost impossible to KO Nigel himself due to his heavyweight build and overall survivability.

CatDog

Unpredictable and flexible would be the best two words describing this unique dual-character in Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl. They also has a few distinctive advantages that make them one of the best current brawlers in the game.

Cat covers a wide area with their moves, such as Feline Fist and Double Dance.

Dog has a fun projectile called Bone Boomerang that goes back and forth, hitting opponents more than once. The two sides make for some interesting versatility.

Lastly, you can quickly switch between Cat and Dog, leaving your opponents in a vulnerable position of guessing which side to fight. While they're distracted, you can deal unexpected damage.

A-Tier Characters

April O'Neil

April has a special gauge called Ratings Meter that allows her to deal extra damage to her opponents.

There are many techniques how she can fill this meter up, but the best one can be achieved with the On The Air move. Once her meter is full, the amount of damage she can produce is outright bonkers.

She also has one of the better early moves called Sliding Kick, which can help set her up in the beginning of the fights.

Although her Ratings Meter offers a potentially very satisfying strategy, it may also limit many of her other abilities.

Helga Pataki

Helga can be slow and clumsy at times, but when her moves connect, they deal so much damage that you forget about those few drawbacks in an instant.

Her best move is Approaching Uppercut that is both hard-hitting and completely unexpected due to the shifting nature of the move itself. Her best counterattack move is Homerun.

With all that said, Helga does have one significant drawback: her low survivability. You really need to pay a lot of attention to her defensive moves.

Oblina

This is one of the most unusual characters in the game, and that actually gives her an advantage above many others.

Her Garbage Breath ability will keep your opponents at bay. If they decide to get close to Oblina, this thing will zone them out and send a few projectiles to finish the job.

Although Oblina is a relatively small in size, she can benefit from this, as her hitboxes are quite hard to target. If you'll be moving a lot using such moves like Eye Lift and Spin Out, it would be almost impossible to deal her even a single hit.

B-Tier Characters

Aang

Speed is a tricky thing to master in Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl, but if you do, then it's going to be a lot of fun for you, although not for your opponents.

Aang can be a great character to learn how to control the speed of movement and take advantage of it both in the air, using his Air Glide ability, and on the ground, using his Air Ball move.

Even if you master only these two moves, the opponents will have a heck of a time time trying to reach you.

Korra

Korra from The Last Airbender has one of the most unique set of moves in the game.

You'd be hard pressed two find two similar moves in the Korra's arsenal, as all her abilities create variations that can be easily used for different combos.

For example, you can double tap her Uppercut attack to produce extra damage; or you could use her Axe Kick while holding the attack button, creating an autocombo.

You can try all kinds of things with Korra, which makes her a really fun character to play with.

Those are the best characters in Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl. If this article helped you choose the best fighter in the game, then be sure to share with your friends online!

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Nintendo Announces Tekken Smash Bros. Ultimate Crossover https://www.gameskinny.com/kduzj/nintendo-announces-tekken-smash-bros-ultimate-crossover https://www.gameskinny.com/kduzj/nintendo-announces-tekken-smash-bros-ultimate-crossover Tue, 15 Jun 2021 14:39:52 -0400 Josh Broadwell

Kazuya from Tekken is the new Smash Bros Ultimate DLC character, Nintendo announced during its E3 2021 presentation. Kazuya joins the 60+ strong roster of characters sometime this summer, with more information to come on June.

Kazuya is the protagonist in nearly every Tekken game and joins the likes of Ryu from Street Fighter and Terry Bogard from classic SNK games as a hand-to-hand melee fighter.

Series creator Masahiro Sakurai will show Kazuya in Smash on June 28 in another installment of his Smash Direct-style video series. As ever, expect to see breakdowns of Kazuya's moveset and some strategies for how to use the new Smash DLC character to his full extent.

As for when Kazuya will release in Smash, there's still no firm date as yet. These characters usually release soon after Sakurai shows them off, so we could see Kazuya in Smash on June 28 or not long after.

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Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown Review: The Original 3D Fighter Comes Back Kicking https://www.gameskinny.com/rpgph/virtua-fighter-5-ultimate-showdown-review-the-original-3d-fighter-comes-back-kicking https://www.gameskinny.com/rpgph/virtua-fighter-5-ultimate-showdown-review-the-original-3d-fighter-comes-back-kicking Fri, 11 Jun 2021 15:14:40 -0400 Jason D'Aprile

It’s been over five years since Virtua Fighter 5, the last true sequel to the original 3D arcade fighter. So, Sega rather suddenly dropping Virtual Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown on PlayStation was both a surprising and welcome move. Unlike the original VF5, which was very cross-platform, this one is only on the Sony side and a free PS Plus pick to boot.

With that in mind, there’s little reason for most PS4 and PS5 owners to not check out the glory of what is still one of the best 3D fighters out there.

Virtua Fighter originally released in 1993, amidst a sea of Street Fighter games and endless clones. Those chunky polygonal graphics and simplified Punch/Kick/Guard controls belied a sophistication and realistic feel 2D fighters lacked. Over the years, plenty of other fighting games have emerged into the 3D realm, but none of them have felt quite as smooth and natural.

Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown Review: The Original 3D Fighter Comes Back Kicking

The pacing, animations, and more grounded fighting system feel impeccable after all these years. The nearly remastered VF5 continues Sega’s legacy and, while the game is definitely a little worn around the edges, it’s remarkably fun and intuitive to play. The 20 characters, many of whom have been on the roster since the original, are well-designed to accommodate nearly any playstyle (except maybe, fireball throwers. They don’t do that here).

They look excellent, even if the graphics aren’t as cutting edge as they used to be, but the smooth, fluid animations are what makes everything work so well.

These fighters move like masterful dancers, responding instantly to your inputs. While there’s a distinct lack of supernatural moves found in other fighting games, each character’s specific fighting style gives them a wide range of different attacks, throws, and counters. Virtua Fighter has always had an innovative counter and throw system, and reversing an opponent’s attack and tossing them can be a vital strategy.

The usual bevy of game modes is available in Ultimate Showdown. Arcade and training mode let single players hone their skills against AI fighters and just learn to play in a private setting. Of course, there’s two-player couch play, but the meat of the game is definitely in the online ranked and versus modes. Aside from one-on-one single matches (or numerous matches against the same opponent), there are tournaments and league modes where up to 16 players battle to be the top fighter.

The online interface is fairly straightforward and even lets you practice or watch matches while waiting for your match to start. The game pits you against those at their skill level and the more matches you win, the more chances to increase your personal rank.

There are certainly no deep story modes or any other trimmings of more story-based fighters. Virtua Fighter 5 is laser-focused on letting players just fight each other one-on-one.

Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown Review — The Bottom Line

Pros
  • Superb and responsive combat mechanics
  • Great array of diverse characters and fighting styles
  • Excellent online play
  • Free to PS+ members
Cons
  • HD remaster looks good, but still shows its age
  • Not much in the way of extras or story
  • Only on PlayStation
  • Still not Virtua Fighter 6

Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown is a welcome addition to the PS4 and PS5, especially since there hasn’t been a VF game in years. Mostly, this remastered release serves to whet our appetites for the prospect of an actual full-on sequel in Virtua Fighter 6, but it’s well worth playing for its pure, responsive fighting.

[Note: The PlayStation Plus version of Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown was used for this review.]

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Guilty Gear Strive Review: Striving for Unadulterated Fighting Bliss https://www.gameskinny.com/wykzd/guilty-gear-strive-review-striving-for-unadulterated-fighting-bliss https://www.gameskinny.com/wykzd/guilty-gear-strive-review-striving-for-unadulterated-fighting-bliss Fri, 11 Jun 2021 14:35:23 -0400 Jason D'Aprile

Arc System Works first introduced the world to Guilty Gear in 1998. For those of us who loved the genre of fighting games but were sick of endless Capcom and SNK clones and sequels, it was nothing short of magical. The series never received the amount of attention and love it deserved over the years, but it has thankfully kept on going anyway. 

The latest is Guilty Gear Strive, exclusively punching and kicking on the PS4 and PS5. Guilty Gear Xrd Revelator (and its updated version REV 2) were remarkable not just for the fighting action, but for their truly impressive cinematic 3D graphics. REV2 was stunning, but Strive is damn near jaw-dropping. 

Guilty Gear Strive Review: Striving for Unadulterated Fighting Bliss

Guilty Gear, as a whole, works so brilliantly largely because of the series' superb, over-the-top, and outright bizarre character design. The whole game world is rich, layered, and overflowing with lore, but the cast is so distinct that no other fighter really quite compares. You could argue that Capcom’s Darkstalkers comes close in terms of out-there character design, but that series sadly isn’t seen much nowadays.

The 15 character roster seems a little light in the face of the massive fighter list of so many others, but then most other fighting games only actually offer a few basic archetypes with different looks. Here, every character is its own boggling, unique thing. The blind warrior who fights with their shadow, a girl who throws sea creatures at you, the hella cool rock-n-roll witch, hulking automaton, all-out bruiser, samurai vampire, a deranged doctor who literally throws random objects… 

Guilty Gear’s line-up remains one of the most outrageously creative and gorgeously designed in all of gaming. The series is historically known for its overtly layered and complex fighting mechanics, with insane levels of special systems that nearly force the use of its in-depth tutorials. Strive has streamlined a lot of that to some extent. The game is more accessible, allowing more damage from smaller combos for instance.

The in-depth tutorials are still here (complete with mini “missions” to nail even more specific game mechanics), but Strive is a little easier for anyone to get into. That’s not to say those weird systems and subsystems are gone. There are still strangely-titled techniques and mechanics like dust, slash, “roman” cancels, burst, the tension gauge, multiple kinds of blocks… the list goes on.

But the focus is on quick, high-powered fighting that always feels satisfying. 

Essentially, the more you play, the deeper the gameplay gets. The presentation marries perfectly with the mechanics. Every hit has a visual and aural impact, every counter is accompanied with fanfare. It’s not an exaggeration to say Guilty Gear Strive is simply the most gorgeous anime-style fighting game ever made. Over the years, plenty of games have rivaled their anime-inspired roots, but Strive looks and feels like a controllable animated film. 

The expert use of camera angles, incredible animation, and amazingly detailed and refined characters and backgrounds are impeccable. While Strive is technically both a new and last-gen title, it’s entirely impressive to behold in a way that no other new-gen exclusive has yet been.

There are a few blemishes here, though. For the last few games, Guilty Gear has been relying on its non-interactive story mode as a kind of filler for single-player content. Where previously, it was more like a visual novel, in Strive, it’s closer to a several-hour-long anime. Honestly, the story for this series has always been so convoluted and overdone as to be nearly incomprehensible. The plot is mostly extraneous to the rest of the game, and the story mode isn’t helping matters.

Beyond that, there’s the basic arcade mode where you pick a fighter and fight through the other AI-controlled fighters, along with a bevy of Dojo training options. If Guilty Gear really wants to up the ante as a single-player fighter, it needs to learn how to incorporate the story mode into something actually meaningful and interactive (like Mortal Kombat has done). The arcade mode is still great, but a modern fighter needs a little more for us solo-minded players.

The multiplayer itself is rock solid. Online matches are fast, smooth, and responsive with nary a hint of lag in our testing. Unfortunately, the online play is buried in this admittedly charming, yet utterly unnecessary 8-bit side-scrolling lobby. You make a custom character before entering, fight a test match to determine your initial skill level, then wander around the multi-leveled pixel world looking for other players waiting to fight. 

You can spend earned coins to “fish,” which yields new customizable bits for your outfit and other things. There’s the cinema mode where you can watch recorded fights, alongside some other features. It all just feels like a barrier to quickly getting into a match though. 

Guilty Gear Strive Review — The Bottom Line

Pros

  • Stunning presentation makes it easily one of the most gorgeous games out there
  • Incredibly deep and thrilling fighting action
  • Rock-solid online multiplayer
  • Amazing character designs make each fighter feel unique and special

Cons

  • Online lobby is cute, but actually makes getting into a multiplayer match more complicated and slower
  • Single-player modes are incredibly light
  • Story mode is non-interactive and fairly nonsensical

Guilty Gear Strive is the perfect time to get into this amazing series. It’s more accessible than ever and absolutely stunning to watch.

There’s still room for improvement in terms of the single-player modes, and the whole retro online matching setup is quaint but just adds unnecessary complication to the multiplayer. Otherwise, this is a solid fighting game worth playing. 

[Note: Arc System Works provided the copy of Guilty Gear Strive used for this review.]

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Capcom Arcade Stadium Continues on PC, PS4, Xbox One https://www.gameskinny.com/bpa6w/capcom-arcade-stadium-continues-on-pc-ps4-xbox-one https://www.gameskinny.com/bpa6w/capcom-arcade-stadium-continues-on-pc-ps4-xbox-one Mon, 26 Apr 2021 15:51:33 -0400 Jonathan Moore

Nintendo Switch owners have been reliving Capcom's arcade glory days since Capcom Arcade Stadium released for the platform in February. Now, the collection of classic titles is making its way to PC (Steam), PS4, and Xbox One on May 25. 

The retro collection includes 32 games available as one package for $39.99, or as three different mini compilations for $14.99 each. The entirety of Capcom Arcade Stadium is a highlight reel of the developer's best coin-op games of all time, with a lineup of virtual cabinets that includes Strider, Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting, Gigawing, Bionic Commando, and more. 

To coincide with the collection's release on PC, PS4, and Xbox One, Capcom said that they will be releasing several new additions, such as a new mode, display frames, and a soundtrack as separate, add-on purchases.

Invincibility mode will be available for all platforms, including Switch retroactively, and is exactly what it says on the tin: it allows players to "survive devastating hits and seemingly deadly obstacles to avoid the dreaded “Game Over” screen." It will cost $0.99. Display Frames Set 1 includes 32 different arcade skins for increased customization for another $0.99.

And a 10-track "mini-album" will release on Steam only and be available for $9.99. Individual tracks can be purchased for $1.49 each. 

On top of that, Capcom said that fans can pre order Stadium on PC and Xbox One and gain access to the "Display Frames Set 1 for free up until June 8." Ghosts 'n Goblins: Resurrection, which was also announced to be releasing on PC, PS4, and Xbox One on June 1, "will be on sale for 50% off between April 26 and May 15."

We enjoyed Capcom Arcade Stadium earlier this year, and though "its fighting game collection could have been far beefier ..." we found it to be "a pretty great slice of gaming history." 

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NeoGeo Pocket Color Selection Vol.1 Review: A Pocket (Mostly) Full of Gold https://www.gameskinny.com/vu8q6/neogeo-pocket-color-selection-vol1-review-a-pocket-mostly-full-of-gold https://www.gameskinny.com/vu8q6/neogeo-pocket-color-selection-vol1-review-a-pocket-mostly-full-of-gold Wed, 24 Mar 2021 18:08:05 -0400 Jason D'Aprile

The Neo Geo Pocket, a lot like the Neo Geo itself, holds a special place in many older and nostalgic gamer's hearts. It was definitely a niche platform with distinctly unique games. The Neo Geo Pocket, initially released in 1998 and followed the next year by the Neo Geo Pocket Color, never grabbed a lot of attention in the West and had a limited library of games in its brief lifespan. Many of those games, however, were remarkably good.

The NG Pocket, like its arcade hardware-equipped big brother, was heavily centered on the one genre that the Nintendo Gameboy never really got a firm grasp on: fighting games. That focus on one-on-one brawlers is clearly evident in the first volume of the NeoGeo Pocket Color Selection. There are 10 games included in the pack, and six of them are small-screen iterations of some of SNK's best arcade fighters. 

NeoGeo Pocket Color Selection Vol.1 Review: A Pocket (Mostly) Full of Gold

The NGP was a 16-bit portable meant to compete with the Game Boy Color. Its screen resolution was 160x152, and the Color version was capable of popping 146 colors on the screen from its palette of 4,096. To put that into perspective, the GB Color had a resolution of 160x144 with a 32,000 color palette, of which it could display 56 simultaneously. However, the bigger sell of the Pocket was its terrific analog thumbstick, which was responsive, comfortable, and generally far better than a mere D-pad.

Given those specs, the emulation here essentially recreates the entire device on your Switch’s screen. There are options to zoom the screen image and change the background as you like, however, and the Switch’s built-in analog sticks prove to be an excellent match for the games. 

Admittedly, the graphics are definitely niche at this point. The Pocket versions of these games recreated the original Neo Geo with a cutesy, big-head/little body graphic style consistent through all the fighters in this collection. The audio is simplistic but charming, background animation is minimal at best, and the whole affair is incredibly retro.

All the fighters in this collection have actually already been released by themselves in the Switch store. Samurai Shodown 2, Gal Fighters, Fatal Fury: First Contact, The Last Blade: Beyond the Destiny, SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millenium, and King of Fighters R-2 can be bought individually for $8 a pop. So, this collection (at $40) is definitely a cheaper way to get them.

What’s most noticeable about the Pocket’s fighters is how smoothly they play. Despite the downsized controls of only two-buttons and the definite visual limits, anyone familiar with, say, the main Fatal Fury will instantly feel at home with First Contact. All the brawlers here feature smooth, intuitive, and responsive controls.

The other four games are Metal Slug First Mission and Second Mission, Big Tournament Golf, and Dark Arms: Beast Buster. The Metal Slug games are great side-scrolling shooters. These games still manage to hold up well for any fan of the series and are a ton of fun. The other two games are a bit odd though. Big Tournament Golf is shallow fun, but sports games seldom age well, and that’s the case here.

Dark Arms is a sort of action-RPG with a lot of interesting elements, especially in the way you constantly evolve weapons, but the gameplay feels awkward and outdated. Monsters respawn constantly, combat mechanics are simplistic, and the visuals are noticeably weaker than the other games. It’s a somewhat entertaining curiosity, but it would have been nice to see some of the more interesting offbeat games like Biomotor Unitron, Puzzle Link, and Dive Alert (among others).

The NG Pocket also has some noteworthy Sega and Capcom games, like Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure, Puyo Pop, and SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighter’s Clash that would be nice to revisit in a future collection. 

NeoGeo Pocket Color Selection Vol.1 Review — The Bottom Line

Pros

  • A lovely emulation of one of the most underappreciated and obscure portable systems of the late 90s
  • The fighting games still have great controls and gameplay
  • Two Metal Slug games, both of which are excellent

Cons

  • Very retro graphics and sound that look especially old on a TV screen
  • All the fighters have been previously released as standalones on the Switch Store
  • Dark Arms and Big Tournament Golf are frankly odd choices to include over other NGP games

A very retro collection of games from an obscure portable system of the past is probably a hard sell for most gamers. For those with an affection for the Neo Geo Pocket, this is a fine bit of nostalgia. The fighting and Metal Slug games included are still remarkably fun and show off the precise controls of the system.

Beyond nostalgic charm, though, the original Neo Geo arcade versions are also available in the Switch store and probably a lot more appealing.

[Note: SNK provided the copy of the NeoGeo Pocket Color Selection Vol. 1 used for this review.]

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Override 2: Super Mech League’s Latest DLC Character, The Black King, Now Available https://www.gameskinny.com/c0j48/override-2-super-mech-leagues-latest-dlc-character-the-black-king-now-available https://www.gameskinny.com/c0j48/override-2-super-mech-leagues-latest-dlc-character-the-black-king-now-available Mon, 22 Mar 2021 15:44:41 -0400 Dylan Webb

We enjoyed Override 2: Super Mech League when it arrived last December. Giving it 7/10 stars, we said that "the action can be frustrating to track, but the feel of combat is excellent and the diversity of characters rivals the best of classic versus fighting games." It brought us a 3D arena brawler reminiscent of classics like War of the Monsters, making for an entertaining sequel to the original Mech City Brawl

Notably, it included characters from Netflix’s Ultraman anime series, some arriving post-launch.

Following on from Bemular and Ultraman himself, Modus Games has announced that the kaiju Black King has just arrived.

Black King is the third character to now appear as DLC, though we’re still awaiting Dan Moroboshi, who's set to follow later this year. These DLC characters are available as separate add-ons for $3.99 each, or as part of the game's Ultraman Season Pass, which retails for $14.99.

Adding to this announcement, Modus Games also confirmed that cross-platform matchmaking is now live between Xbox, PC, and PlayStation editions. Sadly, the Switch version seems to have been left out, with no indication as to why.

Whether there are any plans to include it later are unclear, but stay tuned to GameSkinny for further Override 2: Super Mech League updates.

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RetroMania Wrestling Review: Boys Club Nostalgia https://www.gameskinny.com/eg608/retromania-wrestling-review-boys-club-nostalgia https://www.gameskinny.com/eg608/retromania-wrestling-review-boys-club-nostalgia Tue, 02 Mar 2021 15:59:17 -0500 Anthony McGlynn

Few wrestling games are thought of as fondly as WWF Wrestlefest, a 1991 arcade game from Technos Japan. Between improving on the visual fidelity and sound quality of WWF Superstars and getting worldwide distribution, Wrestlefest was a hit that helped shape wrestling in video games for generations to come.

Some 30 years later, RetroMania Wrestling from Retrosoft Wrestling is a sequel to WWF Wrestlefest, trading the necessity of a bulky cabinet for a gamepad and Steam account. The WWF license has been replaced by the National Wrestling Association and House of Hardcore, and a cavalcade of today's wrestlers are the new would-be arcade heroes. 

A follow-up three decades overdue, RetroMania Wrestling celebrates modern pro wrestling through the pixel art and sound of yesteryear. As a throwback to when the best way to settle a grudge was using an arcade cabinet, it lays a strong foundation, but as a showcase of contemporary professional wrestling, it leaves something to be desired.

RetroMania Wrestling Review: Boys Club Nostalgia

Two single-player modes are available in RetroMania Wrestling, each offering its own distinct narrative.

In Story Mode, you guide Johnny Retro (based on WWE superstar John Morrison) through a dramatic comeback following a career-threatening injury at the hands of Zack Sabre Jr. Once he's completed rehabilitation, Retro hits the road, traveling to territories in the United States and around the world for his chance at revenge. Stylized versions of Matt Cardona (previously Zack Ryder in WWE), Jeff Cobb, hardcore legend Tommy Dreamer, and many others make appearances along the way, either teaming up with or challenging Johnny across the various shows.

Matches use three movesets; weak, medium, and strong. Landing hits requires good timing and no small amount of button-bashing to win grappling contests for bigger moves. There is a tutorial, but like its forebears, RetroMania is best understood through trial by fire, trying out combinations against wrestlers in actual matches.

It can be frustrating having the standard AI pull off suplexes and other combos that seem impossible, but once you start to understand the overall rhythm, elaborate techniques become a gratifying cinch. Eventually, dwindling your opponent's stamina for the 1-2-3 is but a forgone conclusion, at which point you can dial up the difficulty.

Short animated cut-scenes break up story encounters, where Retro talks to other wrestling figures in a kayfabe-like environment where everyone is their in-ring personas. Names and faces, such as Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer, pop up to help further the plot, and you occasionally have choices about alliances or your next adversary that affect your proceeding matches and create some replayability.
 

If you aren’t much for melodrama, the second mode, 10 Pounds of Gold, lets you choose your wrestler in a bid to defeat Nick Aldis for the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship, one of the oldest belts still in active competition.

You face a series of random opponents, in matches varying from one-on-one to a fatal-four-way, before getting to Aldis on an NWA pay-per-view, complete with an animated pre-match Aldis promo. Should you win, you defend a number of times, leading to Aldis getting his rematch.

These are rounded out by Royal Rumble and Exhibition, where you can play against friends using any of the 16-strong roster, with Exhibition giving you full control over the venue, rules, and so on. Going above four participants does put a wrinkle in the game's general smoothness by making it hard to keep track of where you are without a cursor. I was pinned after losing track of my character on more than one occasion.

It's a fairly robust package for anyone pining for another alternative to WWE’s dominance in wrestling games, but it's held back by not having any talent on the roster that isn't a cis-gendered man.

RetroMania positions itself as the recapturing of a bygone era of wrestling video games, one that hoists up the modern generation and highlights legacy beyond that of WWE.

I'm a man who grew up watching WWE and WCW in the 90s, with an older brother who started in the 80s. I'm the obvious target audience for a game like this. But as much as I love seeing the banner for NWA's 70th Anniversary as if it was somehow added to a cabinet from the early 90s, and hearing a heavy metal chiptune following my chosen athlete to the ring, without a single woman or non-binary performer, my rose-tinted glasses aren’t so rosy.

Absent a more inclusive roster, RetroMania dwells in retrograde boys club nostalgia, a vision of wrestling as purely male-dominated and male-defined, without any kind of internal critique or self-awareness.

Journalists and T-shirt companies are name-checked and given dialogue over Serena Deeb, Candy Lee, Thunder Rosa, or any of their peers (despite the NWA World Women's Championship predating the Worlds Heavyweight Championship).

This is especially conspicuous given that WWE unceremoniously cut a women's title match on a recent PPV, and AEW's controversial choice not to air its women's tag tournament on TV, proving these issues persist on a systemic and cultural level.

Thankfully, this is something the devs are aware of, and there's potential here to retroactively acknowledge wrestling outside of the masculine paradigm through-out history, piggybacking on Netflix's GLOW in shedding light on the workers that led the way and their struggle for mainstream recognition.

Right now, though, it's a game that avoids acknowledging these problems at all, and though I had some fun with it, it's not something I'm keen to return to.

RetroMania Wrestling Review — The Bottom Line

Pros

  • Looks good and soundtrack is catchy
  • Wide variety of moves
  • Cool to see smaller companies in video game form

Cons

  • Roster lacks diversity
  • Too many people in the ring is chaotic
  • Learning controls can be frustrating

Retrosoft clearly understands the kind of game it wanted to make in RetroMania, and aesthetically, it succeeds. Gaining the momentum in a match that's in full swing, and keeping it until victory, is exhilarating.

But as of now, RetroMania perpetuates aspects of pro wrestling that are better left in the past.

[Note: Retrosoft Studios provided the copy of RetroMania Wrestling used for this review.]

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King of Fighters 14 Ultimate Edition: A Modern Fighting Classic Returns to the Ring https://www.gameskinny.com/zuxc1/king-of-fighters-14-ultimate-edition-a-modern-fighting-classic-returns-to-the-ring https://www.gameskinny.com/zuxc1/king-of-fighters-14-ultimate-edition-a-modern-fighting-classic-returns-to-the-ring Thu, 21 Jan 2021 10:09:20 -0500 Jason D'Aprile

SNK’s King of Fighters series has a long and illustrious history, taking up residence in the hearts of many fighting game lovers. Originally released on the Neo Geo back in 1994, it’s been faithfully chugging along ever since. 2016’s KoF XIV, however, was the first time the series went 3D and the results were impressive.

As it turns out, the game is still pretty impressive almost four and a half years later. Presumably to whet appetites for KoF 15 coming later this year, 14’s entire package, with all the DLC, is being re-released as an Ultimate Edition. 

From a purely statistical point of view, this is a massive fighter. Fifty-eight characters, including the eight add-on DLC fighters, makes for a grand range of fighting styles, and the horde of arenas to match are just as remarkable. In addition, 10 DLC costumes are included along with 10 KoF PS4 themes.

King of Fighters 14 Ultimate Edition: A Modern Fighting Classic Returns to the Ring

There’s also a lot to do here. The arcade story mode tells the latest saga of the King of Fighters tournament, wherein everyone is fighting to be the very best and beat the Champion. It’s not a huge spoiler to say that beating this big, generic fighting dude opens up the true boss who appears to be a demonic-looking alien just traveling around the universe looking for kicks (and punches). 

There are some cinematics and dialogue scenes between fighters at various points, and while nothing here is in danger of being high (or well-written) drama, it’s fun. Tutorials, practice, and survival modes help players refine their skills, but, of course, the meat of KoF 14 is online play.

Two players can fight locally, but up to 12 can compete in actual tournaments, which is a distinctive sell for the more hardcore fighters out there. King of Fighters has always been distinctive because of its three-member team-based take on fighting. You don’t have to use the pre-set teams, though, and can pick any three you want.

Like most SNK fighting games, KoF uses a basic four-button fighting style of light and heavy punches and kicks. Although, some fighters focus entirely (or nearly so) on either punches or kicks based on their fighting art. On initial play, the game seems to work much like Street Fighter or other popular fighters might, but there are enough distinct differences to make KoF feel more unique.

 

Elements like the rush, dash, guard crush, and super meter, alongside the different types of jumps, all combine with a specific character’s abilities in different ways. The result is a system that takes practice to get adept with but still feels relatively familiar and intuitive to newcomers. The extensive training mode is a great help for getting up to speed and a necessity if you’re planning on spending much time fighting online.

The previously 2D art style makes a smooth transition to 3D. The characters have a fun cartoonish look and are sharply defined, brightly colored, and exceedingly well animated. Beyond that, the score is bouncy fighting rock, the narrators boisterous, and the character voice work entirely Japanese.

If you’ve grown up with fighters, from the original Final Fight and Street Fighter 2 on, King of Fighters has some other notable, if sadly expected, elements worth noting.

Mai, Final Fight’s classic ninja so over-endowed she apparently can barely stand upright has always been an expected bit of lurid, perverse design, but so many of the women fighters here are just as obnoxiously over-sexualized. Granted, SNK is far from the other fighting game maker stuck in the era of ridiculous character designs that seem purely aimed at sad teenage boys. The problem is that for more mature players who love the gameplay, this actually distracts from an otherwise excellent fighter.

King of Fighters 14 Ultimate Edition — The Bottom Line

Pros

  • Incredible roster of 58 characters
  • Deep fighting system that rewards skill without being unfriendly to newcomers
  • Great online tournament modes and generally robust multiplayer

Cons

  • Admittedly, the game is still five years old and KF 15 is coming
  • Too many of the women characters are just inanely over-sexualized and creepy looking

King of Fighters 14 Ultimate Edition really is just the original game with all the DLC automatically added. There’s no other change to the base game. If you missed it the first time around, this is still a fine way to get into the series.

The online tournament play is robust and the fighting system has plenty of subtlety and nuance. The massive character roster offers incredible amounts of experimentation, even if we personally wish the developers would grow up when it comes to their depiction of women characters.

[Note: SNK provided the copy of King of Fighters 14 Ultimate Edition used for this review.]

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Samurai Shodown Goes Next-Gen, Launches For Xbox Series X|S in March https://www.gameskinny.com/rrm4x/samurai-shodown-goes-next-gen-launches-for-xbox-series-xs-in-march https://www.gameskinny.com/rrm4x/samurai-shodown-goes-next-gen-launches-for-xbox-series-xs-in-march Mon, 18 Jan 2021 13:54:28 -0500 Dylan Webb

Samurai Shodown made a welcome return in 2019. One of SNK's major fighting series, it was dormant for nearly a decade and even now, this new entry continues receiving regular support. As part of this, SNK have now confirmed a next-generation port for Xbox Series X|S, due to release on March 16.

Originally running at 60fps, the Series X edition of Samurai Shodown will go as high as 120fps, offering a smooth gameplay experience, according to SNK. Furthermore, existing Xbox One owners can upgrade to this enhanced edition for free, thanks to Microsoft's Smart Delivery service. At this time though, there's no sign of an equivalent PS5 version on the way.

There's an age-restricted trailer you can see over on YouTube

A physical edition of Samurai Shodown is planned for Europe and North America on Xbox Series X|S, which features all of the game's Season 1 content at no extra charge.

Adding to this announcement, SNK also confirmed that Season Pass 3 will launch sometime in February ahead of these next-gen editions, offering four new DLC characters. Last week, SNK revealed that two of those will be ChamCham and Hibiki Takane. 

We gave the Switch version of the reboot a strong recommendation back in early 2020, though we criticized some technical aspects such as long loading times. Considering the much higher hardware specifications for both Xbox variants, we're hopeful that these have been addressed, especially considering we had similar issues with the Xbox One version in 2019. 

Stay tuned to GameSkinny as we hear anything further about Samurai Shodown.

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