King of Fighters 97 OL

What the hell happened? It was looking like SNK Playmore went mobile starting last year or earlier after a serious struggle with Pachinko slot machine games in which not many of the gamers are interested in and I’m severely against gambling stuffs as they ruin your life that easily. Rhythm of Fighters was kind of strange although Metal Slug Defense was like popular to the developers that they kept it going until today with additional units, crossover characters and even crossover stages that lasted a while. Yes, that game surely looked like Battle Cats which was released three years earlier than it so the word, defense, is a misleading word to the gameplay when comparing it to Battle Cats. Unfortunately, the developers of Battle Cats didn’t even mention the complete origins of Metal Slug units and instead, they mentioned by in-game text that those units came from Metal Slug Defense. There may be units exclusive to Metal Slug Defense of course but too much crossover can pretty much ruin the image of Metal Slug series. Then, there was Beast Busters featuring KOF which I already finished most of the areas like I eventually stopped playing it. Even worse is that this year, SNK Playmore is acquired by the Chinese company, Ledo Millenium, in which Ledo Interactive developed KOF 97 OL for IOS and Android.

At first, we thought that this was an HD remake but it’s not. It’s a beat-em-up spinoff game of King of Fighters 97 and fans of the franchise were really annoyed about this as if the franchise or perhaps SNK Playmore itself is on life support. Everything is redone in HD and the gameplay controls are way too simple for the genre. You just mash the specific buttons that represent the respective moves like normal move which does the comboing in normal way plus the special move, the special moves that once used, you have to wait until they’re available again, the desperation move and so on. If you have played tons of beat-em-up games or fighting games, you will notice that some of the stuffs are missing in the gameplay. You can’t jump, air-dash, ground-dash or even throw something. There may be ground-dash attacks but they originate from the original KOF games so that doesn’t count as a normal ground-dash attack in terms of the beat-em-up genre. Unlike Phantom Breaker Battle Grounds, you can’t even guard yourself against enemy attacks. Yes, even Phantom Breaker Battle Grounds is the spinoff of the fighting game using the same genre as KOF 97 OL. A KOF beat-em-up spinoff game will be a decent idea since you’re fighting tons of baddies like a fighter alongside other KOF characters in your team with other teams awaiting you as your rival teams. Perhaps, a real 3-vs-3 may make sense in this one where all team members are fighting the rival ones at the same time unlike the KOF series where it’s still a 1-on-1 match with the other team members watching it and one fighter down may mean other team member taking over.

There’s also a warning message telling you that the enemies in that stage you’ve chosen are too strong that you may need to strengthen yourself if you want to get in but you do have the options on whether you have to strengthen first or enter the stage anyway. There are tons of items that can be used as well as the outfit parts that can be strengthened. Plus, strengthening yourself may cost in-game currency and unlocking other fighters may require collecting cards representing them. There are also assist fighters that will help you out for extra overall strength. Like Beast Busters featuring KOF, each stage is short and features a boss at the end where you have to tackle him/her within the time limit.

Lastly, the FMV intro and loading screens are way out of place as if the fans are like, “What the hell is this?”, “What’s up with the look of the characters? How could SNK Playmore ruin their image like that?”, “Why is this going all 3D CGI like in KOF Maximum Impact?”. In fact, there might be cosplayers involved in the promotion of this game. The cosplay itself is fine but having to promote this game with it poses the fans a couple of challenging questions.

The worse thing is that King of Fighters XIV is going all 3D graphics via Maximum Impact series and there is some assumption that it is using Unreal Engine 4 with realistic effects or some sort but from what I saw in the trailers, the overall graphics looked like they were done in Unreal Engine 3.x or something. I mean the flame effects are not quite realistic enough and the smoke effect is half-assed as well. And what’s up with the look and outfits of the characters? WHY DID SNK PLAYMORE ASSIGN THIS TO SOME EXTERNAL COMPANY LIKE THAT? Going next-gen is supposedly a requirement but going 3D like in Street Fighter IV or Maximum Impact series is a major disapproval to the fans. Hell, even the FMV intro of KOF 97 OL is like graphically better but keep in mind that KOF XIV is still under development and I don’t know if KOF 97 OL will be superseded or not by the time it comes out next year for Playstation 4.

In summary of unacceptable flaws of KOF 97 OL:

  • Lack of standard abilities as required for a beat-em-up spinoff such as the lack of jumping, dashing and even throwing.
  • The way the sound effects are executed is flawed.
  • What’s up with the loading screens and FMV intro?
  • For the music, the way it loops is that it cuts off certain parts of each song or something. (Example: Psycho Solder’s theme song has chrous and post-chorus cut completely)
  • The stage uses the same background for every phase or something

Sure, there can be fighting game elements in today’s beat-em-up games like special and super moves, guarding, surrounding shockwave that repels every surrounding enemy off as well as to summon your assistant to help you along to make things more epic in the next level so why not?

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