Neo Geo Battle ColiseumESRB:
Platform: PlayStation 2
Developer – SNK Playmore
Publisher - SNK Playmore
225KB save Memory Card
Digital/ Analog Control
Unfortunately many gamers have long since assigned the 2D fighter to the annals of gaming history. 3D stylized graphics have been prevalent since the early days of the PSone and the whole polygon era seemed to usher 2D games to the point of extinction. It’s too bad too since these days had such great hand drawn art and a certain charm that a lot of modern games just can’t match. However, even in today’s world all may not be lost as there seems to be a bit of a retro revival quite recently as more and more older 2D games, including a lot of fighters, are appearing on the downloadable arenas of Xbox Live and the PS Network. SNK Playmore is a name synonymous with 2D games, and they have been brave enough to release brand new versions of some their older fighting titles in disc form on the PS2. Having just played through KOFXI my hopes were high for NeoGeo Battle Coliseum (NGBC).
Since the original version of this game was on Sammy's Dreamcast based Atomiswave arcade board, it features excellent high-resolution backgrounds that are very detailed and packed with some cool paralaxing backgrounds. The character sprites mostly remain low resolution but they have been smoothed over decently enough to match the hi-res backgrounds. There are some sprite filter options so you can choose exactly how you may want this effect to look. This won’t change the game too much in terms of graphical splendour and old school fans will really dig the retro look as I definitely did.
Being a port of an arcade title, the game is almost identical in every way with every hiccup and glitch still intact. There are some huge amounts of slow down throughout the game which can be quite annoying. Dropouts and clipping is also quite prevalent, but this was somewhat expected given the PS2’s well aged hardware. The game seemed to take forever to load up almost each and every screen. This became increasingly frustrating trying to get back to that cheap fighter or boss, only to have loading times diffuse your passion for the game’s moment. The game may not have the polish of some of the newer fighting games out there, but there is enough here to get the hardcore fan excited and perhaps the odd new one as well.
Neo Geo Battle Coliseum also has a cool mode in which the gamer can manipulate the video output modes. There is 50/60Hz option, as well as variety of video modes that slightly stretch the screen in various ways (since arcade monitors have a different resolution to TVs). I found it somewhat interesting and you should too as you can tailor the results to whatever kind of display you have.
Sound and music in the game is pretty standard fair for this genre. We’ve all heard the various grunts and cries of the fighters in other games, as well as the solid sound effects. The fighting mayhem is well orchestrated with the sound of breaking glass, splintering wood, wind effects, etc. The game is never dull in the effects regard, but it can get annoying. The sound quality is top notch and in many ways sounds just like the arcade. The music also is well represented here. You can choose between an arranged rocking soundtrack or the original. Either way you can’t go wrong with the offerings, mind you some of the tunes will become quite annoying with extended playtime. There is also a little voice acting spattered throughout the game, which is. This game is definitely a walk down memory lane, and many hardcore gamers will appreciate it, howeve, some modern gamers may balk at what they hear.
NeoGeo Battle Coliseum (NGPC) takes characters from pretty much all NeoGeo fighting games and puts them together in an all out tag-team battle. The game boosts over 30 fighters with more to unlock. It seems like publisher and developer SNK Playmore has put together an awesome package. Add to the great roster a price of only 20 bucks and you have a great bang for the buck. That being said, unfortunately the game doesn’t live up to what I had hoped for in a fighting title.
To start, NGBC only has only three solo modes - arcade, tag and survival, all of which are fairly self-explanatory. Once I began to play it soon became apparent that tag battle is essentially a slightly easier version of the arcade mode, so in this sense NGBC offers just two solo modes. The game also has really no storyline to tie the gamer in to the huge cast of characters, beyond your favorites of course. So in a single player environment the game felt a little like a ship without a rudder. Of course, there is a two-player option, and player two can even drop into the main game at any time to battle it out. This is by far the best way to enjoy NGBC, and it extends the life of the title. Sadly as with all of SNK’s releases there is no online play. Perhaps future incarnations for the PS3 this could be rectified.
Most character's damage in the game seems to be tailored to create a reasonably balanced game, although as with every compilation fighting game you'll soon find a character or move that seems to be a bit too powerful. The game is not hard to pick up and play, but to finish it is another story. In typical SNK style the bosses can be incredibly cheap, and can require just as cheap tactics from the player to beat them. You will find, as I did, that controller throwing issues are plentiful here. It also leads me to one very frustrating complaint about the game. As mentioned previously, the load times are quite bad. It takes around 20 seconds for the first round to start from the character select screen, and every time the background changes there's another ten second pause. This can become extremely frustrating when you're trying to beat a cheap boss for the 15th time.
The cast of characters in the game is a long one with a few cool ones and equally odd ones. They can be best described as an all star roster from pretty much every Neo Geo series ever. Characters from King of Fighters, Fatal Fury, Samurai Showdown (one of my faves), World Heroes, Metal Slug, Art of Fighting and Last Blade all make appearances. There are also characters from other strange games too. For example, Cyber Woo from King of Monsters and classical Athena from the Athena side-scroller on the NES (talk about a weird choice!). There are also some fighters you would expect to see, but are not included. For example, Ash, the star of the most-recent King of Fighters game, and Yuri Sakazaki, from Art of Fighting (a lead character), are notably absent. Regardless of who’s in NGBC though the game features a respectably large and diverse cast.
With SNK being old hands at the 2D fighter genre the fighting itself is pretty good. The characters feel like they have proper weight and inertia and the controls are well suited to the PS2. I’m still a fan of the old PS controller so finding a comfortable character to use really never was a problem. The buttons are easily accessible especially while on the attack. Blocking is performed by pulling back on the d-pad as it always should be, as having to press buttons to block gets far too complicated during the heat of battle. Battle Coliseum also allows the ability to perform counters, extremely long combos and the now customary super moves. It’s all fairly standard and fans of other SNK titles may miss some of the other countless options that most games of this genre provide. I for one like the somewhat simplified fighting system and it made NGBC quite enjoyable in the gameplay department.
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