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Mini Review: The King Of Fighters-A 2012

SNK Playmore is apparently having some trouble about “doing it right” when it comes to KoF series on the Android platform. After releasing The King of Fighters 2012 on the Play Store about 6 months ago, it was pulled off because of compatibility and other technical problems. It now reappears by the name “The King Of Fighters-A 2012″. Did they fix all the bugs and made the game better? Well, let’s see.

If you happen to be an iOS user too and try to find this game on the “App Store”, you won’t be able to because it isn’t there. The iOS version is conveniently named “The King Of Fighters-I 2012″ and apparently suffers far less technical problems, provides more features and better support. But more on that later, let’s talk about the Android version first.

KoF-A-2012 Opening

If you search the Google Play Store for “The King Of Fighters” you will surprisingly find couple of spin-offs, 2 or 3 older KoF games that are apparently running on some kind of emulator, the KoF-A 2012 and “The King of Fighters Android” by the publisher G-Gee.  Oh, there is another one that goes by the same name “The King of Fighters Android” published by “Jennifer Taylor” (!?) which is probably fake as they copy/pasted the description and the screenshots from the G-Gee’s version. Ok, we now have 2 legitimate versions, the G-Gee’s and SNK Playmore’s. Both versions are basically the same game with “some” differences. The SNK version introduces 14 new character, bumping the roster to 34 fighters and 1 new game mode. The G-Gee’s version doesn’t work on rooted devices for some reason (SNK’s works fine), but it also costs less. Neither version supports global leaderboards or achievements for now.

About the Game

The moment you start the game the opening movie starts to play and introduces the 4 new teams “Art of Fighting”, “Psycho Soldier”, “Kim” and “Ikari”, followed by the tutorial that you should probably play through as it explains some crucial elements specific to this edition of the game.  Once you complete the tutorial, you can chose one of the 6 game modes to begin playing with. The most popular “Team Battle” provides the standard 3vs3 elimination team battle mode where 3 characters of your choice will fight against AI controlled teams in order to win the tournament, “Single Battle” 1-on-1 round system, the “Endless” mode where you will fight against the AI  until you die, the “Challenge” mode where you can complete various tasks (combos), and the “Training” mode. Time Attack is the latest addition to the game that wasn’t there before. You will have to face 10 random opponents (1 round each) and try to beat your previous best “clear times”. While playing any of the single player modes, you will earn “Rose” coins that you can spend unlocking stages, soundtracks, artwork, illustrations and other extra content accessible by visiting the “Rose store”. Furthermore you will occasionally gather the so called “Trading Cards” that you can collect or sell in the store, but you won’t be able to actually trade with other players. Well, on the Android version at least.

The game provides lists of all special and regular moves for all the fighters that can be easily accessed by tapping on the “menu” button under the timer at any time. The “Simple controls”  previously mentioned simplify some of the more complicated combos and special moves so that they can be performed quite comfortably on the virtual joystick.

Speaking of joysticks, the game provides on-screen virtual controls that you can re-arrange to your liking. The first impression I had about the virtual joystick was that it tends to lag behind, but I quickly realized that it’s probably a feature allowing you to see how it responds to your actions and moves. So yes, generally speaking they work just fine, however 2D fast paced fighting games were never intended to be played like this. No amount of precision and responsiveness will beat the fact that you press against flat surface without any tactical feedback. Unfortunately, “The King Of Fighters-A 2012″ does not provide any support for external gamepads, neither USB nor bluetooth and any successful pairing of those devices with the game will be purely coincidental.

The fighting part of the game is excellent. Animations and moves of the fighters are masterfully done with distinctive KoF style that despite the touch controls still feels awfully similar to the arcade/console version. The backgrounds however are far from perfect.  Not only are they blurry, but also static. This is unfortunate as the console version of KoF XIII featured some really cool animated backgrounds interesting to watch. The game also lacks HD support making the characters and backgrounds pixelated on bigger screens where the low resolution shows its ugly head alongside the black borders on both sides suggesting that the game was originally developed for different screen aspect ratio (hint A).

KoF-A 2012 is relatively new(ish) game and comes straight from SNK Playmore for both Android and iOS users, therefore it has to be premium finished product right? Wrong. The reason why I mentioned “The King Of Fighters-I 2012″ for iOS in the beginning, is the online multiplayer support that Apple users enjoy for the same price. The reason why the Android version is completely missing this game mode and where are the achievements and global leaderboards remains unknown for now. The least the developer can do is put-up a note clarifying why are we missing those features, will they become available in future updates and explain why Android users are getting the inferior version for the same price.

Should you buy?

Despite all the cons, The King Of Fighter-A 2012 remains one of the best 2D fighting games that runs natively on the Android platform at the moment, premium game that offers zero IAPs or ads. If the developers update the game and bring it on par with the iOS version, add support for external controllers and improve the graphics, you can consider this to be a “must have” title. In the meantime get it only if you don’t mind the touchscreen controls and consider yourself to be a fan of the genre. If you decide to wait, you can buy the G-Gee’s version of the same game (minus 14 characters and the Time Attack mode) for half the price.

by Dejan B .

One of the best 2D fighters on Android No multiplayer support
Good on-screen controls No external controllers support
Low-res graphics