King of Fighters R-2 Nintendo Switch Review

Nowadays, the line becomes a little muddy, but there was a time when you simply said a company’s name, and there was instant association with its own keystone franchises. Nintendo and Sega are still both pretty well known for Mario/Zelda and Sonic respectively. Microsoft is starting to blur, but I still most people think Halo. Sony is blurred as they have had many franchises over the years, from Crash Bandicoot to Uncharted, results were mixed any time I asked someone about it. SNK was popular for several games, and the answers that came up most often were Metal Slug and King of Fighters. And now King of Fighters R-2 (“R-2”), along with several other SNK classics, has made its way to the Nintendo Switch.

Nineteen-ninety-four was the year we saw our fir King of Fighters, which laid the foundation, in my opinion, for many “all-star” games we see today, including Super Smash Bros. The game featured characters from SNK’s past as well as few brand new characters developed specifically for the franchise. We’ve seen entries into the franchise almost yearly for arcade and home consoles/PC since the beginning, including games spanning multiple console generations from the Dreamcast to the Playstation 4, and now the Switch. While not the Franchise’s first foray into portable gaming (does anyone remember SNK’s portable Neo Geo system? No? Me neither), we have also being seeing more and more ports of SNK games to the Switch, including Gals’ Fighters and Samurai Showdown.

Ultimately, the R-2 entry feels like a dumbed down version of The King of Fighters ’98, which was meant to be experienced on a smaller screen, but it’s actually a pretty decent fighter for what it is. The animation is about what is to be expected from an SNK game, accompanied by almost tear-inducing nostalgic music and static backgrounds that are visually pleasing. From the moment you pick up the game, R-2 is bright and colorful. Gameplay is fun if not satisfying. Even though the Switch offers a vast array of buttons and joy-sticks, R-2 relies on the tried and true 2-button system, but this doesn’t mean the combat system is lacking. There isn’t a ton of content with the game, as this is essentially an emulation of an old fighter released on GBA, but it packs enough for those quick gameplay sessions where you cannot commit a ton of time.

At the end of the day, though, R-2 is more of a collector’s game than a must-have. Despite this, it doesn’t mean that SNK gave a half-way job. Not only do you get a digital version of the original manual for the game, but you have different skins for your virtual system framing the game, a scan-line filter, zoom, and (perhaps most important to rotten fighting game players such as myself) a rewind function. The game is still quite challenging, for me any way, and this feature came in handy. And their build-a-fighter mode can be produce quite interesting results.

My biggest gripe with R-2 is the price point. Haha, only kidding. At $7.99 this is the perfect “time-waster” game, or something to let the younger gamers out there play on a road trip or something to that effect. I do feel like this may have been a better value as part of a collection with some of the recently released SNK games, but the price point is fair and won’t break the bank, especially in these uncertain times.

4.5 stars out of 5