The King of Switch Fighters (for now).
I’ve always been a fan of the fighting genre ever since I was a kid, playing Street Fighter II for days on end. But I never really got into SNK’s fighting games, which have always been a strong force in the genre. They’ve never been bad or anything -- they’re just simply not my cup of tea. But as I continued to play King of Fighters 98, I couldn’t help but appreciate the old school simplicity of the game. Its solid gameplay mechanics, huge roster and added enhancements changed my mind completely on the series. This is one of the best fighters out on the Switch at this moment in time.
The King of Fighters series innovated the 3 vs 3 style of battle seen in later fighters, and King of Fighters 98 is no different. You’ll choose from a giant roster of over 30 fighters from SNK’s various fighting series like Art of Fighting or Fatal Fury. Each of these men or women all have their own movesets and play styles as you battle other groups of three until you face the main baddie of the series, Rugal, who has the strength of three men because...well, he’s mean. Speaking of, there’s really no real story to this version of the game other than the goal being to beat Rugal, but the gameplay itself is fun enough that it negates this detriment.
Since this is a fighting game, the controls have to be on point and this version of King of Fighters ‘98 delivers on this front. An arcade stick would be the perfect choice (though one isn’t coming out for a while) but playing both on the TV and in handheld mode worked perfectly well for me. Everything was on point and I never had a problem with controlling my fighters and getting them to perform their special attacks. Two player local play is also available, using the two joycons. This mode of play still is a bit off, but then again I’ve felt the same way about other games just playing with the small joycon layout.
The Switch version of the game, developed by HAMSTER, features a wide variety of enhancements from the original arcade version. For starters, you can choose between the Japanese or English versions of the game, which have a few cosmetic differences. There are also leaderboards, save states, and difficulty settings that can be changed for your enjoyment. The only thing that kind of bums me out is the lack of online play. Fighting games and online multiplayer just seem like the perfect match these days for added replayability. Unfortunately it’s lacking here, which I hope isn’t a bad omen for future fighting games that make their way to the Switch.
King of Fighters ‘98 is one of the better fighters you’ll find on the Switch right now. It’s large roster and vibrant graphics brought me into the game, and its simple, intuitive gameplay gives you a lot to work with. There will probably be better fighting experiences for the Switch in the future, but right now King of Fighters can take its throne as one of the top fighters on the console..