‘Savage Reign ACA NEOGEO’ Review – In Every Console’s Life, A Little ‘Reign’ Must Fall – TouchArcade

The chances are good that if you associate SNK or the NEOGEO hardware with any genre, it’s fighting games. Or maybe Metal Slug. But let’s assume it’s fighting games. Why wouldn’t you, after all? Fatal Fury. Art of Fighting. World Heroes. The King of Fighters. Samurai Shodown. The Last Blade. Garou. I think a person could make the argument that no one was as prolific at turning out high-quality fighters than SNK in its prime, not even the likes of Capcom or Midway. But not every swing connects. Even the best sometimes strikes out. So let’s talk about Savage Reign ($3.99), shall we?

It’s not as though SNK didn’t have its occasional miss, particularly early in the console’s life. What makes Savage Reign‘s shortcomings so interesting is that the game came out in 1995, well after SNK and its development partners had figured this whole fighting game thing out. It is improbable that a game of Savage Reign‘s quality should come out at the time that it did, but it most certainly did. The idea behind it was sound, at least. Add another weapon-based fighter to the SNK line-up, with a modern flavor to contrast with the medieval Japanese Samurai Shodown series. Add in a new gimmick in the form of a second tier fighters could battle from. Like Fatal Fury but with boomerangs and dodge balls.

Yes, I said dodge balls. The weapons most of the fighters in Savage Reign wield are… unconventional to say the least. And that’s appropriate, because the characters are pretty unusual themselves. There doesn’t seem to be much of a consistent theme here, and it hurts the game’s identity. A cyborg, a cheerleader, a clown, a martial artist, an old guy dressed like a beach bum, a cop whose top is way too tiny with some Zangief-like chest hair, and a few other oddities populate the game’s ten-character roster. Each of them has their own stage that fits their specific theme, but it’s really hard to figure out how any of this fits together. And sure, none of this affects how the game plays. But that lack of consistency makes this game sometimes feel like a plate of leftovers from other SNK fighters at times, and it has a hard time standing out among the many other options the NEOGEO had to offer.

I don’t want this to sound like a total disaster, though. Savage Reign isn’t a bad game, and if it were the only fighting game you had around, you could do a lot worse. It looks good, with plenty of details in the backgrounds and well-animated characters. It does that characteristic NEOGEO zooming, particularly when you start hopping around to the second tier of each stage. The gameplay is functional enough, playing a bit like the earlier Fatal Fury games thanks to all the lane-hopping shenanigans. The weapons are mainly projectiles but get incorporated into melee attacks in some fun ways, and some of the stage designs handle their second tier in a very unusual fashion.

The issue with Savage Reign is more that this is a very average fighter that lacks a proper focus. There are a lot of different pieces thrown in here from other games, but they don’t really mix well together and it ends up feeling like an odd hodge-podge as a result. So too does the roster of characters, and again it isn’t really in a good way. I think there’s certainly room in the genre for a bunch of wacky misfits, but this game feels like it’s trying a little too hard to check things off of some list of awesome ideas someone had. Does it matter? Well, yes. It’s trying so hard to be so many things, it never really drills deep on any of its ideas. It’s about as shallow a fighter as you could find at this stage of the NEOGEO’s life, more akin to the kinds of things that came before Fatal Fury found its footing.

With all of that said, I think we have to look at the current context in which we are viewing Savage Reign. This is a low-cost mobile port, one that you will probably be mostly playing in single-player. It’s likely you are using touch controls, though there is of course external controller support for those who want to take advantage of it. My assumption is also that anyone who has read this far into a review of the mobile version of Savage Reign is at least interested enough in NEOGEO to have played all of the more famous fighters from SNK. So let’s see how that measures up, then.

Unlike NEOGEO console owners back in the day, you won’t need to justify a $150 cartridge purchase or whatever here. The last boss isn’t nearly as nasty as the usual SNK boss, and the wacky spectacle of it all makes for some amusing single-player bouts. The lack of depth means you can get by without too many fancy combos, which makes it easier to play using the touch controls. And this is certainly one of the less-celebrated fighters from SNK, which means you might not have played the wheels off of it yet. With all of that taken into account, I suppose I can’t tell you to completely avoid this release. It’s only a few bucks, and I expect you can get that much fun out of it.

The usual Arcade Archives boilerplate. You get a robust list of extras and options, including additional modes and online leaderboards. The emulation is sound as a pound. Is a pound sound anymore? I don’t know. But the emulation is good, is what I’m trying to say. You can only play multiplayer if you have an extra controller, as there are no wifi or internet play options available. You probably know this already, because I say all of this every time. It hurts every single fighter in this line-up that multiplayer is such a difficult thing to get going, but it is what it is at this point.

Savage Reign is incredibly mediocre by the standards of SNK’s NEOGEO fighting game line-up, and as with other ACA NEOGEO fighting games the poor options for multiplayer make this one of the worse ways to experience it. But you might find something endearing in its quirky nature, and there aren’t many fighting games that let you beat someone into unconsciousness with a dodge ball. I sure wouldn’t make this a high-priority purchase, but there may just be a few bucks’ worth of button-bashing fun for some of you here.

By admin

Related Post