NeoGeo Battle Coliseum
Score: 8.0 / 10
NeoGeo Battle Coliseum is the latest in SNK fighters that have been recently released at a budget price. It shares a lot with The King of Fighters XI, which also just came out in America. They both feature tag systems and huge character rosters but NeoGeo Battle Coliseum is actually more of a sequel to SNK Vs Capcom: Chaos (which came out in America on the Xbox). It features most of the characters from that game, minus all of the Capcom folk, plus a huge number of other SNK fighters, many of whom time has forgotten.
In addition to KoF mainstays Terry, Mai, Kim, Kyo and Iori, there are other favorites like K, Shermie and Robert, who is once again dressed in a completely new outfit. Rock and Hotaba from Garou: Mark of the Wolves make appearances, as well as Jin Chonshuu, Jin Chonrei and Tung Fu Rue from some of the older Fatal Fury titles. Washizuka, Akari, Kaede and Moriya represent the Last Blade characters, while Haohmaru, Genjuro and Nakoruru appear from Samurai
Shodown. Two characters from the 3D Samurai Shodown games are here, and while Shiki was in SvC Chaos, this is the first time outside of the Neo Geo Pocket Color games that we see a 2D rendition of Asura. Hanzo, Fuuma, and Mudman show up from the forgotten ADK semi-classic World Heroes (which is also being released in a compilation in the near
and Mr. Big, Mr. Karate (a variation of Ryo) and Lee Pai Long fill out
the Art of Fighting roster.
are also a handful of obscure characters, or at least faces we haven=t
seen in any recent 2D fighting games -- these include Cyber Woo, from
King of Monsters, who is a gigantic mecha ape controlled by a little
kid; Marco, from Metal Slug, who commands tanks and can turn into a
zombie at will; and Kisarah from Aggressors of Dark Kombat. There are
also two completely new characters - Yuki, who wields a powerful blue
flame that would put KoF XI;s Ash to shame, and Ai, a cutesy gamer chick
who attacks with Tetris blocks. With over thirty five characters, it's
an extremely well rounded roster. While most of new faces aren't really
"new" per say, it's cool to be able to mix things up
from the standard KoF roster, and gives long time fans some new
characters to master. Some of the characters do feel a bit redundant -
do we really need BOTH Hanzo and Fuuma? - but otherwise there really
aren't many complaints. I mean, this is the first time Geese Howard and
Rock Howard can finally fight on the same team. How awesome is that?
Granted, if you've never played a SNK game before, a lot of the history
behind this may be lost on you, but this is as good a place to start as
Taking a note from King of Fighters 2003 (which in turn was inspired by the Capcom Versus games), NeoGeo Battle Coliseum lets you pick two characters, which you can switch between anytime during battle. Characters in backup rejuvenate their health and don't lose any when brought back into combat, which encourages constant tag teaming. There are also combo attacks called Double Assaults, which calls out your partner for a super attack. These are separate from your standard super meter, as they can be activated every eight seconds, as long as you don't tag in your partner. These will reduce the red (regenerating) section of your opponents life bar, as well as giving your partner a temporary attack boost when you call them out. Strangely, NGBC's equivalent of the defensive roll - a mainstay in the KoF games - now work a bit differently, and reduce your power meter by half a bar.
the arcade version originally ran on the Atomiswave board, most of the
2D backgrounds are high res and look far better than your standard Neo
Geo game. Like KoF 2002, there are plenty of cameos for fans to pick up
- one background taunts you with the awesome Rosa from Kizuna Encounter,
another has Alfred, the hidden boss from Real Bout Fatal Fury 2, and
there's a whole stage based off the Japanese-only Dreamcast rhythm game
Cool Cool Toon. The sprites are mostly still the same ones SNK has been
using for years, although the characters that haven't appeared in any
recent fighting games have been redrawn. They've still held up up fairly
well, and there are a few focus options that let you adjust their
sharpness. A few 3D
backgrounds have also been added to the PS2 port, although arguably the
2D arenas are a bit nicer. You can choose between Arrange and Original
soundtracks, although neither are particularly outstanding. The style is
very similar to KoF 2003, featuring techno beats and some heavily synthesized
guitar, which doesn't
stand up to the music from SNK's heyday.
arcade and Japanese versions of Neo Geo Battle Coliseum suffered from
horrendous load times, although these have mostly been fixed for the
American release. The European version had also cut out all of the win
quotes and endings, which have again been restored for this version.
Unfortunately, much like the recent US KoF XI release, progressive scan
has been cut for this version, which is annoying for HDTV owners.
are the other usual complaints that one could level at 2D fighting games
- the single player game modes are pretty standard, and only a few
unlockable characters. The final boss, Mizuchi, is ridiculously cheap,
who regains health after being hit and assaults the screen with lighting
really only beatable via the continue service, which reduces his life
meter to a quarter. And even then, you'll
need to really cheese it up to beat him. There's a nice gallery which
shows off the artwork (including some overly cutesy renditions of the
bunch), but otherwise the bonus options are fairly scant.
While the presentation, gameplay and character selection is a bit better in KoF XI, NeoGeo Battle Coliseum is still a fantastic game, especially for the low budget price (usually between $15 - $20 US.)
- Kurt Kalata
(February 25, 2008)
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