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SNK Gals Fighters Review – Pocket Fighting is Back!

Jordan over at SwitchWatchTV got ahold of a copy of SNK Gals Fighters on the Switch and has provided us a lovely review of the game. This looks to be a fun addition to anyone’s library, but let’s be honest. That’s not why you are here. You are wondering if SNK Gals Fighters is worth your hard-earned cash, and that is where we come in. Check out Jordan’s video review below or continue downward to read it here on SwitchWatch.co.uk.

Well this came out of nowhere! SNK Gals Fighters is on the Nintendo Switch. An old Neo Geo Pocket Color game, does it hold up to this day? Let’s take a look.

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Gals Fighters, or to be more correct it’s Gals’ Fighters which is far too plural and possessive for my brain to comprehend what on Earth they mean. But it’s a fighting game starring the ladies of SNK waaaay before SNK Heroines was even a twinkle in the company’s eye. This is the OG SNK Heroines. And you know what, it’s a bloody lovely little fighter.

STORY

As a fighter, one developed for a portable system back in the year 2000, you won’t be surprised to hear that the story of Gals’ Fighters isn’t exactly at the forefront of the experience. Delving into the digital manual you can get a brief premise. All the ladies in the King of Fighters universe are invited to take part in the Queen of Fighters competition in order to win a talisman which will grant them 1 wish of anything they please. Yes. That’s it. Each lady has their own goal in mind and you don’t really get anything in terms of character aside from a handful of between-match battle cries and then a very brief ending, usually comical in nature. I wish the endings had a bit more meat to them aside from talking over black screens and then one final still image, but it is what it is.

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GAMEPLAY

This is a one v one fighter built for a 16-bit handheld system. And while that system was a bit of a beast for the time, even to this day when the two words: “fighters” and “handheld” are combined in the same description for a game. Pretty much everyone’s reaction would be to immediately suck the air through their teeth with flashbacks of horrific Mortal Kombat ports on Game Boy and the like.

The Neo Geo Pocket Color combined with SNK’s fighting pedigree, however, performed miracles and the system was home to half a dozen or so very commendable and very playable fighters. And SNK Gals’ Fighters was one them.

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There are 8 characters available from the beginning with 3 unlockable characters depending on if you achieve certain goals or just by playing long enough. None of the characters are secret since you’ll be battling them anyways in the main mode of the game: Queen of Fighters Mode. This is your standard arcade mode as you battle your way through half a dozen fights before getting to the end boss and claiming the talisman for yourself.

When you look at the Neo Geo Pocket Color and you see that it only has two buttons, you can’t help but wonder how they could possibly get some variety in your attacks. Well, you need not worry since Gals’ Fighters has very competently squeezed a bewildering amount of depth to your characters capabilities With just two buttons and your control stick you can easily access loads of moves and combos and pull them off with ease.

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Many of the moves involve your standard quarter circle, or half circle movement followed by an input, but that doesn’t make it predictable since not all the gals follow the same suit despite having similarities here and there. Yes, you can pick up each of them and fiddle around easily able to get a grip on a couple of moves, but they’re not cookie cutter.

I mean, you can pull off some good looking stuff here. I’m crap at fighters but even I was seeing result come together due to the simplicity of the controls and the intuitiveness of the battle flow. I was dodge rolling, pulling off a combo, following up with a special move and kicking some arse.

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I mean, it’s not revolutionary, of course. But for a handheld console in the year 2000, this would have been eye opening for fighter fans. Despite the chibi looks, this is very much an SNK fighter albeit in diminutive form. It has that same feeling.

The default difficulty is pretty bang on. I mean, I managed to scathe my way through it first time with most of the characters, aside from when I came across Yuki who kept kicking my arse. But, where ever your skill level lies, there are 5 levels of difficulty to choose from as well as 4 levels of speed, how many rounds and time you want.

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One potentially interesting aspect is the use of items. You can win items from some girls once in a while and equip them before going into fights. However, some items don’t do anything while others don’t do much and I felt it was a wasted opportunity. Saying that, I really disliked how they implemented items in the game’s spiritual sequel a couple of years ago, so perhaps I should be grateful they’re almost an after thought here.

I like how they’ve address 2 Player versus mode in this port. Given to most other developers, I’d have guessed most would have just stuck this mode off for the port since it’s was a link cable-only affair, too bothersome to implement in a console port. Well, not in Gals Fighters. Hand a Joy-Con to your bud and enjoy a competitive battle with them. In the times when two screens are needed, well the game just pops them side by side. All the fighting is done on one screen of course.

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In terms of additions, like you often find in many emulated games these days, this release is pretty barren in terms of gameplay options. The only modifications you can do is to remap the controls, which I can’t see being wholly necessary here, and you can rewind the game if you want to defy destiny. That’s really about it.

For what you get in this diminutive little package is a nice succinct bit of fun. Of course when you look at other Switch fighters, you have to ask, what’s the point? What is the point of this release? This can’t compete with the likes of Dragon Ball FighterZ, Mortal Kombat, or even the arcade port of Garou: Mark of the Wolves. But as a curiosity and perhaps as nice educational showcase for that brief period of time that SNK entered the portable console market, it’s a bit of fun. I can’t promise it’s a game you’re going to stick with or go back to time and time again, but you’ll definitely play it for a few hours and appreciate what it had to offer back during its initial release and you’ll be surprised and how well and playable it is even to this day.

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VISUALS & PERFORMANCE

Visually the game is obviously pretty basic. The original system, the Neo Geo Pocket Color was basically a Game Boy Color in terms of what it had to offer, so the color palette is rather low which is a pity since I would have loved to have seen these character sprites fully colored, I’m sure they would have looked amazing. But it is what it is, and the designs themselves are well done as are the background despite their lack of color too.

The presentation for this port is an interesting one. The default settings have the game zoomed out, almost comically small. Which, is how the game truly looked, sure. But you’ll definitely want to access the meta menu and zoom in all the way to fit the full height of the screen.

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The border art work consists of the worrying amount of console color variants the system had, or you can switch it off completely which is what I did for most of my time playing. There’s a dot matrix filter that can be applied, but I felt it was a bit too strong for its own good, although it is more authentic for the nostalgia fiends.

See Also
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AUDIO

The audio is pretty cool, well at least the music aspect. The chip tunes are excellent and catchy and as I am writing this review, my game is open in the options menu listening to the BGMs to sample them without the hectic stress of a battle ensuing. I really like what the music has to offer here. Perhaps they’re not going to be remembered after I’ve stopped playing, but I can appreciate the work gone into some of the tracks here. I particularly enjoyed BGM number 12, 17 and 23. God, I sound like I’m ordering a take away here. I’ll have an extra portion of BGM number 21, please.

I was less impressed with the sound effects however. I’m pretty sure it’s down to hardware limitations, but I think a bit more oomph to the hits would have been nice. Characters being silent is also oddly disturbing in a fighting game. Usually I’m praying any God that will listen just to shut characters up from yelling every millisecond, but I did miss it here. An odd grunt here and there would have been more soothing as these ladies beat the crap out of each other.

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VALUE

On the eShop SNK Gals’ Fighters is priced at £7.19 in the UK and 7.99 in Euros and US Dollars. When it comes to the category that I like to call “totally random retro ports” found on the Switch, this is in the upper echelons of price. I think that’s the right kind of price though, especially if you want to support these obscure titles seeing the light of day again. I’d love the entire Neo Geo Pocket Color library on my Switch, it’s a system that has some absolute belters in it’s tiny library. But that’s a tangent. Monetarily, it’s probably not exactly the best bang for your buck. I can’t see most people putting more than a couple of hours into this as a curiosity purchase than anything else despite it being very capable for its time and even to this day. But if you want tell SNK you want more of this, then handing over the cash is the best way to do so.

On a side note. You may remember that pre-ordering the Samurai Shodown Reboot for the Switch netted you Samurai Shodown 2 (the Neo Geo Pocket version), well, I do know that that obscure release is getting a standalone physical version at some time in the future. So perhaps this will too? Pix N Love Publishing are handling Samurai Shodown 2 physical, and they said they have an announcement at the end of May. I’m wondering if this could be it? Don’t hold me to that though. My guesses are almost universally wrong. That’s why I’m not a betting man.

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Okay guys, thanks very much to our executive producers Dane Wilkinson and God of Resin as well as all our other YouTube members, we really appreciate your support. If you want to join them, then there’s a link below in the description. Now perhaps head over to watch our review of Pocket Rumble which is a modern game that was inspired by Neo Geo Pocket fighters just like this one, honestly, it wears its heart on its sleeve so much that you’d be hard pressed to find how it’s different from this. Plus we have lots of other content for you to lap up such as our Streets of Rage 4 review if you want to beat the crap out of people in a slightly different way. It’s an excellent game so be sure to give it a watch, we’ll see you other there.

  • Story - 7/10
    7/10
  • Gameplay - 7/10
    7/10
  • Audio - 7/10
    7/10
  • Visuals & Performance - 7/10
    7/10
  • Value - 7/10
    7/10

Summary

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SNK Gals Fighters is not a game you’re going to spend a massive amount of time with even if you enjoy it like myself. You’ll pick this up, battle away for a couple of hours and never play again. And if you can make your peace with that before you buy, it is worth it. You might as well get Garou if you want a serious fighter, but this is a nice curiosity.

Overall
7/10
7/10

Pros

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  • Nice port
  • Nostalgic

Cons

  • Little replay value
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