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The King of Fighters Collection: The Orochi Saga
Score: 80%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: SNK Playmore
Developer: SNK Playmore
Media: DVD/1
Players: 2
Genre: Fighting

Graphics & Sound:
It gets difficult to keep talking about the look of SNK fighters every time someone decides to round a bunch of them up in a collection like this. Basically, on the oldest games in The King of Fighters Collection: The Orochi Saga, you can count the pixels. They did the best they could on the NEO GEO hardware, and this was ahead of the game for quite a while. But toward the latter end, you can see that they were pushing the limits. It may be painful to look at for the first few minutes, but after playing a few rounds, you'll probably notice the attention to detail, the little extra bits of animation added to certain moves, the funny things in the background.

Likewise, the sound shows its age, but has its charm. Though it never falls into the realm of sounding like a tin can, some of the voices are a little difficult to make out. For the stuff that counts, however, the sound is pretty immersive. Heavy hits, fire, yells: they all sound as strong as they should. As far as the music, though there are stages with some hard rock themes, there are also quite a few with more relaxed and jazzy tunes.

The King of Fighters Collection: The Orochi Saga represents a lot of what people think of when they think SNK fighters. One of the things that sets the game apart from other arcade fighters is its team-fighting system. It's one of the first (if not the first) fighting games to feature teams of fighters instead of just one-on-one battles, and I remember thinking that this game gave you more for your quarter way back in the day.

Other than that, this is your classic fighter, favoring special moves over straight and simple fighting. No game in the series really feels rusty or unplayable, but things do start becoming less ungainly toward the last few games.

In addition to having 5 different King of Fighters games to play in this collection, there are also a number of challenges you can complete. The rewards are fairly generous, (completing one particular challenge got me several music tracks and pieces of artwork added to the gallery), so you do get something even if you can't complete them all. The challenges themselves are fairly interesting. One will have you fighting with no health bar, timer, or power bar to go by. It makes you shift your focus purely to the fighting, and it just feels different. Another challenge is called "Hot Potato." Here, your attacks themselves do no damage, but they do poison the enemy. So it becomes a match of tagging your opponent and then evading until they fall.

Although there is a option for training, one sore oversight is the lack of a versus mode. That's right, you're stuck with the same team of characters if you win. Expect requests from your friends to "just kill me" so they can pick a new set of fighters. Sure it's the arcade experience, but with a lack of places to drop quarters for "I've got next game" on most modern TV sets, the point is moot anyway. And now I've proven how old I am.

The King of Fighters Collection: The Orochi Saga really hurts in the difficulty department. It's hard to summon up the super-human cheapness needed to beat the game, even on lower difficulties. If you're not a savvy fighting game fan, you may not get very far here.

Still, there's plenty of enjoyment to be had going head-to-head with another human being, and that difficulty can't be measured too easily. I've always found KOF to be more enjoyable to play against another human anyway. There's the surprise element about not quite knowing which one of your team members is going to be fighting the other that keeps things interesting.

Game Mechanics:
The King of Fighters Collection: The Orochi Saga keeps things fairly simple as far as controls go. You've got a four button system with two kicks and two punches. The move sets aren't too difficult to learn, and it is the kind of game you can just start trying "half circle" this and "quarter circle" that until you find something.

What really hurts this game the most, however, is the long loading time. Thankfully, loading doesn't interrupt a match, but it's still pretty terrible. And you get nothing but a black "loading" screen for your wait (some Neo Geo carts at least gave you a bit of animation to entertain you while you waited).

Even with the lack of a versus option, this is still a decent collection. If you want to get a bit nostalgic before the upcoming (beautiful, beautiful) The King of Fighters XII, this may be a good title to pick up.

-Fights with Fire, GameVortex Communications
AKA Christin Deville

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