There are two schools of thought when it comes to 2D beat-em-ups, and opinion is fairly evenly divided between Capcom and SNK. Both companies have happily borrowed good ideas from each other and are content to release yearly revisions of their top titles. King of Fighters EX – Neo Blood is the first and maybe last SNK game to appear on the Game Boy Advance and we’re happy to report it’s amazing.
Neo Blood is set in the time frame between King of Fighters 97 to 99 and as such includes a medley of characters from various releases of the series, plus one previously unseen character, Moe Habana. A four-player team system is in operation, three controllable characters and one striker. Basically, each team member is the equivalent of a round, the team left standing wins. The striker can be changed for each fight and adds interesting possibilities to the gameplay. Your striker can be called in to help at any point in the fight for a little two-on-one action. Here’s a good example of how to use your striker: jump in attack, ground combo, buffer in your striker, juggle your opponent with a super before they land. Sweet.
The animation is fluid, and has been lifted straight from the arcade version. The only downside is the static background, but that’s not really a problem. Any fighting fan is going to feel at home with this conversion. Learning the intricacies of the characters, the game system and the combination possibilities will ensure that there are months of playability in this title. Especially, when you consider the two-player link up option. Drool.
Neo Blood is an excellent beat-em-up. If you’re into fighting games don’t miss out on this beauty.