Platform: Switch, PlayStation 4
Review Date: 3/28/20
This pervy fan service fighting game is totally bonkers, but not necessarily in a good way. Shortly after the events in "King Of Fighters XIV," Kukri kidnaps most of the female contestants along with a gender-swapped Terry Bogard and seals them away in a special pocket dimension. His goal is to turn the women into sand sculptures and use their anguish and despair to revive some supernatural creature. I eventually lost track of his perverse ramblings after a while. He also dresses everyone up in ridiculous cosplay costumes, which adds to the absurdity and fans the flames of sexist criticism.
It's a fully featured fighting game with a Story mode, Versus mode, Survival mode, Training mode, and Tutorial mode. The Tutorial mode is definitely recommended because the controls are unorthodox and can be confusing. The fighting mechanics are surprisingly simplistic, and include the typical weak attacks, strong attacks, special attacks, and throws, but there are no combos, multi-button inputs, or dialing inputs. You can jump and dash, but you can't crouch. Guarding is done with a button instead of the standard directional input, which is really hard to get used to, and matches can only be won by executing a "dream finishing" move, which requires spirit energy. Performing a successful dream finisher is confusing and unintuitive, and it's not always clear when and where you can do it, or if it's actually going to have an effect.
It's a decent looking game, although the stages are visually uninteresting and the characters tend to look overly cartoony. The fighters are rendered as 3D models, which is nice because they maintain their physical integrity when they face different directions. One thing that really bothers me about 2D fighting games is that the character graphics are simply flipped when they turn around, so that any character with an asymmetric feature gets physically altered. For instance, a right eye-patch becomes a left eye-patch, or a scar moves from one side of the body to the other. Given that the fighting event is hosted by a perverted lunatic, there are numerous opportunities to ogle the characters in their comically sexy and revealing outfits. There's even a customize option where you can modify the characters' costumes and pose them for photo shoots. This is a mildly amusing distraction, but honestly, there aren't enough options and the controls are too restrictive to make it worth your time. Additionally, the interface is confusing and the save feature doesn't actually work. Each fighter has a default costume plus two others that can be unlocked with in-game currency. However, the game will always use the default costume for computer opponents, which is disappointing. On the plus side, there are no mirror matches in Story mode, and you always get to fight everyone in the roster.
The entire presentation is zany, which matches Kukri's twisted mind and fetishistic sensibilities. The dialog and interplay between the women is playfully entertaining, and the tone resembles an adolescent sex comedy from the 1980s. The gender-swapped Terry Bogard with his "Fatal Cutie" baseball cap is especially hilarious and hypersexualized, much to his chagrin and the amusement of everyone else. The default system voice is outrageously funny, although I'm not sure if that was intentional. Impact effects are bizarre and include food, fruit, desserts, plushies, rubber ducks, playing cards, and musical instruments that pop out of thin air. Silly items can also be collected and used, like banana peels, land mines, and giant wrecking balls. Fortunately, there's a wide variety of difficulty settings, and the easiest setting is actually quite easy. This is a very good thing, otherwise I wouldn't have had the stamina or interest to keep playing as long as I did. But the game's biggest drawback is the unbearably long load times. Each match takes up to sixty seconds to load, which is often longer than the match itself. This becomes increasingly aggravating the longer you play. While I always appreciate girl fighting games and this one draws on SNK's rich history and back catalog, its unorthodox mechanics and goofy presentation aren't going to make it my go-to game in the genre. It's good for a few hours of entertainment and laughs, but offers little beyond that.