SNK Gals’ Fighters is a delightful little fighter for the Neo Geo Pocket Color. It was one of many 2D games of its kind to do the best it could on the system, using oversized, chibi versions of characters with minimal color palettes and exaggerated features to convey personality. It was enjoyable and never afraid to be goofy or different. Appropriately enough, the SNK Gals’ Fighters Switch port is not just a faithful adaptation that runs well on the system, but it has all of these features and design decisions that can only be described as whimsical.
For example, you can just have SNK Gals’ Fighters running as-is on the system with no borders. There’s no stretching to make it fit the Switch’s proportions. You can zoom in to maintain its original dimensions, and it looks fine. But what’s really fun is how it plays with different presentations and perspectives. It leans into the fact that it appeared on the Neo Geo Pocket Color by… giving you a virtual Neo Geo Pocket Color. You get multiple shell options in its skins section. (The transparent blue one is the best, because I say so. Also, this is a joke, because they are all good.) You can zoom in and out to determine the proportions of this virtual system. Really, it’s a joy.
SNK Gals’ Fighters is a delight. pic.twitter.com/yc8SYVVhkW
— Jenni Lada (@JMariye) May 8, 2020
More importantly, it is a functional Neo Geo Pocket Color if you are playing SNK Gals’ Fighters Switch in handheld mode. It is touchscreen compatible. If you have your hands over the virtual system’s analog stick or action buttons, you can use those to play the game. It’s not the best or most ideal option for a fighter like this, but it’s a fun and unexpected one. I suppose you could say it is novel, which is basically a word that could be applied to every part of this game.
In fact, its multiplayer mode has that same level of whimsy. When you go head-to-head, you are literally going head-to-head. The SNK Gals’ Fighters Switch competitive match has the system in handheld mode, as usual. However, each person is holding a Joy-Con while attached to the system and looking down on it from the left and right sides of the screen. You then play it while you’re facing one another. It’s not great for social distancing, but it is great in terms of thinking outside the box.
Code Mystics also made sure that this port has the other features you’d expect from such a thing. There’s a brief rewind option, should you find you’ve unfairly lost and want a second chance. You have two different filter options. One reminds you of how the game actually looked on the system, while the other is crisp and clear, like you had a backlight installed and applied. Even the original manual is there.
But maybe what I appreciate most is that now, there’s the ability to share the experience. SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy, the SNK Gals’ Fighters spiritual successor, helped call attention to this niche novelty. However, it still wasn’t terribly easy to really share this experience until now. Having the modern port opens its silliness and style up to a whole new audience, which especially works well when the brief matches mean you can show off some of the characters’ fun moves within the limited 30 second clips. You can point to Yuki, show off her big “NO!” attack, and go, “Yeah, this is what it was like when Kyo’s girlfriend used an army of her boyfriend’s clones to mow down her opponent… and herself.”
The SNK Gals’ Fighters Switch port is just… fun. It’s incredibly well executed. It maintains the game’s quality. It also isn’t afraid to be as silly with its appearance, inputs, and multiplayer presentation as the game itself. It is a joy to play and makes me hope that SNK and Code Mystics are working on additional adaptations.
SNK Gals’ Fighters is available on the Nintendo Switch and Neo Geo Pocket Color.