For some reason I was really optimistic about SNK Heroines. You might look at a game like this and wonder why. But I was. Part of it was just that hey - there's a new SNK fighting game coming out on the Switch! That's pretty rad, right? But the more important thing was that a new SNK fighting game made up entirely of a roster of the women of SNK was basically a long awaited sequel to the Gals Fighter on the Neo Geo Pocket Color. That sounded fantastic. I kind of had to support the release of this game. Oh sure it looked campy and fan-service, but... Gals Fighter 2!
Here's the thing, though. Gals Fighter was a far more robust fighting game than SNK Heroines. At least that's how I feel right now after my initial time spent with the new game. Gals Fighter was on a tiny screen that you had to hold in just the right light to even be able to see. It was on a handheld with only two buttons. And it felt way deeper than this.
There are a lot of things I don't like about SNK Heroines. The small roster I can deal with. I mean I'd love to see more fighters, but I can deal. The simplified fighting system is good... and bad. Okay so basically the entirety of the fighting is two buttons here (a throwback to Gals Fighter?) and the direction that you push while hitting those two buttons determines special moves. I guess that's sort of like Smash Bros, right? Some might call this overly casual, but I think it's kind of cool and inviting. My problem is that pushing Back does not block, and while you can crouch there are no low (versus high) attacks. It's either a hit or not. So you lose all the strategy of mixing up high and low attacks. Shallow!
Then there's the issue of the tag team system. Again, it feels like a wasted opportunity. See, both fighters share a lifebar. This might be part of why matches end in seconds. Seriously, the loading screens between matches tend to be longer than the matches themselves. Anyway, the second fighter is like a support that can toss you items, ugh. My real issue is that you don't win by getting your opponent's lifebar down to zero - you win by getting it low and then landing a finishing blow. It seems like an unnecessary - and stupid - requirement. Do you know how many times I got the last boss' health down to zero in story mode only to see him dodge the finishing blow several times and whittle me down? I hate it.
People are going to dislike the cheesecake here, and I get that. Though I do think that the sleeze here is done in a tongue-in-cheek way. I mean, they go out of their way in the story to make the dude who put them in these costumes look like a creep. And watching him watch them on little TV's makes the point that maybe the player is the creep afterall. It's sort of fourth-wall breaking voyeurism that's a little campy and a little pointed at the same time. And luckily you can unlock some less revealing outfits.
Having said all this, I'll hang on to my copy of SNK Heroines for a couple of reasons. First off, I have the feeling that future patches will bring new characters and possibly we'll see some changes for the better. I'll give SNK a chance to make this game better. But also because I feel like the simplified fighting system could at least be fun to my wife whose past fighter experience has been Dead Or Alive or nothing - she never did care to learn those button combos in things like Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat. So there's some promise here. Then again, maybe Blade Strangers would have been the better purchase.