The Art of the Mark of the Last Samurai Fury Metal Heroes
There is something undeniably appealing about a crossover. Most people are always wondering what would happen if this character met this character, or if the heroes from this particular universe were able to interact with the heroes in a completely different universe. That appeal extends to gaming, especially fighting games, as seen in fan favorites like Marvel vs. Capcom or SNK vs. Capcom. SNK, of the aforementioned Marvel vs. SNK, has a large catalog of fighters, with games like Samurai Showdown, World Heroes, and King of Fighters, and so apparently they decided to pit their own fighters against one another. NeoGeo Battle Coliseum is the result, a budget fighting game that will please fans of SNK fighters, although the title might not appeal much more than the hardcore fanatics.
NeoGeo Battle Coliseum is a 2-D fighting game in the vein of the aforementioned Marvel vs. Capcom. Battle Coliseum has an impressive roster of over 40 playable characters to choose from, pulling characters from SNK titles like Metal Slug, Samurai Shodown, King of the Monsters, and Art of Fighting. It’s always fun to pit some of your favorite fighters from one game against the fighters from another. You choose two characters to create a team and swap them out for 2-on-2 tag team battles, fighting your way through the Arcade Mode, Tag Mode, or Survival, all of which play out exactly how they sound. The major difference between Arcade and Tag is the ability to continue playing after losing one of your combatants, which seems shortsighted. It is very inefficient to create two modes of what should have basically been an option choice. Survival mode predictably charges you with surviving waves of foes for as long as possible and essentially becomes the other modes without an order or ending.
The visuals in Battle Coliseum are dated at best. The game is a throwback to the days of 2-D fighters, but most of the characters seem unimproved from the games that they were ported from. At the very least, the developers could have chosen to update the sprites a little, especially considering that the PlayStation is at the end of its cycle life and we’ve seen what it is capable of. The graphics are functional, but many gamers will wonder why the developers didn’t take the opportunity to upgrade the simple visuals a little bit. The sound effects are also merely functional, recreating the expected sounds from the respective games.
One standout gripe is the incredibly long load times between matches. Initially, matches can take quite a while to load up, which is a disappointment considering the “simple” nature of the game. Since it is older tech running on the PlayStation 2, most gamers would expect the loading times to be nearly nonexistent, but the seconds between matches draw out noticeably. This can become really frustrating, especially after losing a match and having to wait through the loading screen again and again. This will be a nearly unavoidable inconvenience for all but the best of gamers, considering the legendarily cheap nature of SNK boss characters.
Another disappointment is in the lack of options. The aforementioned three modes comprise most of the game. The player can modify the appearance of their characters, but there isn’t much else to the game. This is made more pronounced by the fact that Arcade and Tag are very nearly interchangeable. Most tag games don’t really have much in the way of a story mode, considering that it would be nearly impossible to craft a story for every possible combination of characters. Some games choose to focus the story on the winning character, or the first chosen character, or give stories to particular characters. Battle Coliseum attempts none of the above, giving the player fight after unbroken fight, which can become tedious for gamers that are used to story modes, as superfluous as they can be in fighters.
The variety of characters is one of the main draws of NeoGeo Battle Coliseum. As I stated before, there are over 40 different fighters for use in the game, all capable for forming a two-man team to kick butt with. The games that are represented run the gamut from more popular, well-known games like Art of Fighting, Samurai Shodown, Fatal Fury, World Heroes, and even Metal Slug, to lesser known titles like The Last Blade and Garou: Mark of the Wolves. To show how well SNK titles are represented, Athena, the goddess of war from the classic NES game is even playable. The variety of characters is well done, but the roster would have been more appreciated if the game had taken steps to increase the replayability further, perhaps by including some quest or story modes.
Your level of enjoyment for NeoGeo Battle Coliseum is going to really depend on two factors. First, you have to really enjoy 2-D fighters, especially those of the SNK variety. Secondly, you have to appreciate throwback titles. NeoGeo Battle Coliseum doesn’t bring anything new at all to the fighting formula, instead choosing to place all of its stock in the nostalgia factor. Anyone seeking the SNK glory days will find themselves enjoying Battle Coliseum, if only for the chance to play with classic fighters like Haohmaru, Mai Shiranui, or Terry Bogard in battle with one another again. NeoGeo Battle Coliseum doesn’t have the deeper, satisfying gameplay of games like Marvel vs. Capcom 2, but if you were in the SNK 2-D fighter camp, you’ll find much to enjoy here, even if it is just for the sake of nostalgia.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 2.9 Graphics
Simple, 2-D graphics hearken back to old school gaming. 2.9 Control
Classic controls that are easy to learn. 2.4 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Decent old school sound effects. 2.6 Play Value
Not much in terms of replay beyond the incredible roster. 2.5 Overall Rating – Average
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.