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King of Fighters R-2

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Released: 1999

Genre: Beat-’em-up

Format reviewed: Neo Geo Pocket Color

Publisher: SNK

Developer: SNK

Submitted by: Michael Coops

KOF R-2 is the second best fighter on the NGPC. That's saying a lot. Even the worst fighter on the machine was much better than any handheld fighter made before, and played better than any made since. There's not much new in terms of characters or game mechanics over the original, but this doesn't matter.

All the fighters on the system are fairly similar. They all use the Super Deformed style. They all reuse animation. They all recycle their music. They all share similar AI. It's a large part of why they're so good. Still, the fact this is in colour does make this better looking than its direct prequel.

This is based on KOF '98, the most popular KOF. It's a Dream Match, so there's no pointless story, and characters who are officially dead can appear alongside the characters who killed them. It also means the characters use their '98 moves, except that a couple of the characters in this were never in '98.

The game is guaranteed to play well- due to being the same as the rest,. The key feature that sets this apart is how much stuff there is. All of the other fighters have extras, or unlockables. The worst has two unlockable characters. This has nine, with fourteen to begin with (plus one more hidden). Most of them are palette swaps, but it still gives you a lot of fighting styles to choose from.

On top of that there are extra modes. Every NGPC fighter has a versus mode. This also has a training mode, and a much more interesting “making” mode. It's like a KOF take on the Soul Calibur series' quest mode; with each fight having different challenges, and unlocking new performance altering drugs special items. There's also some great Engrish. It's one of the best parts of the game, and goes a long way towards making up for the fact you'll never find anyone with an NGPC and a copy of the game to play against (not to mention one of the ridiculously rare link cables).

KOF R-2 is very much like the other fighters on the system. If you don't like them then the game (and to be honest the machine) won't appeal to you. Otherwise this is the game to get after you play MotM to death.