The King of Fighters ’97 Global Match review for PS4, PS Vita

Platform: PS4
Also On: PS Vita, PC
Publisher: SNK Corporation
Developer: SNK Playmore
Medium: Digital
Players: 1-2
Online: Yes

I’m not even going to pretend that I’m good at fighting games. Pretty much the only ones I can even claim to be moderately non-terrible at are those in the Injustice and the Marvel vs Capcom franchises, both of which give ample amounts of handholding to people like me (which is to say, they both simplify cool-looking combos enough that you can pull some off even if you suck terribly).

So, when I say that King of Fighters ’97 Global Match doesn’t seem like a particularly good game, you should keep in mind that it may just be my incompetence speaking. I am horrifically bad at doing almost literally everything the game demands, which — I’m not going to lie — may colour my perception of it.

In my defense, KOF ’97 Global Match is almost incomprehensible if you’re going in blind. There’s no tutorial mode, which means that the only way to get better (or to even learn what to do) is read the moves list and get beaten over and over again until you figure out what you’re doing. The game does allow you to change the difficulty level, but as far as I could tell, doing so had minimal impact on the game’s, er, difficulty. Though, again, that may just be my suckiness speaking.

Also in my defense, there’s a pretty noticeable input lag. I’m not the kind of person who usually complains about that, to the point that this may be the first time in my life I’ve ever complained about (or even said the words) input lag, but I think it’s appropriate here. I played KOF ’97 Global Match on both PS4 and Vita, and in both cases, it wasn’t uncommon for me to have to wait a few moments before the buttons I pressed had any bearing on what was happening on-screen. As you can imagine, in a game where reflexes play an important role, not knowing whether your button presses would do anything could have a severe impact on your enjoyment of the game. Again, though, I’ll note my ineptitude.

All that said, I’m not convinced that my disappointing experience with KOF ’97 Global Match can be chalked up entirely to me simply not being good at the game. For one thing, I’ll note that many of these same issues have been noted in the game’s Steam reviews — presumably by people with much more experience and expertise than I have.

For another, even if I was amazing at the game, I think I’d still be disappointed that the game seems so barebones. There’s no story or plot anywhere to be found; even if you can kind of infer the point of a game called “The King of Fighters”, it’s still disappointing that there’s not even the hint of a nod towards giving the individual fighters any kind of backstory or motivation. There’s also not a lot of variety on offer in the modes: you can fight single matches, or you can fight team matches. There’s not even much to be said about the game’s looks — though, given that we’re talking about the barebones re-release of a twenty-year-old game, that’s at least understandable.

But I don’t think it’s forgivable, particularly when you factor in everything else here. Whether you’re a seasoned fighting game veteran or, like me, you’re someone who has sucked at fighting games for as long as they can remember, The King of Fighters ’97 Global Match really doesn’t have a lot to offer.

SNK Corporation provided us with a The King of Fighters ’97 Global Match PS4/PS Vita code for review purposes.

Grade: D+