IGN Review of King of Fighters Collection: The Orochi Saga
Over the last several months, I've had the opportunity to review the grand majority of SNK Playmore's releases, almost all of which have been compilations of old Neo Geo titles from years past. One of the more recent releases from SNK is the robustly named The King of Fighters Collection: The Orochi Saga, a compilation of five King of Fighters games originally released during the mid to late '90s. The funny thing about Orochi Saga is that it is indeed compiling a group of games that are essentially compilations themselves. If you're not familiar with SNK Playmore's lineup, the King of Fighters series has traditionally pulled fighters from across the many SNK franchises in order to assemble a diverse cast. You'll see familiar faces from Fatal Fury, Art of Fighting and even Psycho Soldier. And while this might not be a collection for everyone, Orochi Saga is well put together and will please fighting game junkies looking for yet another dose of old-school charm.
First off, Orochi Saga lets gamers choose between King of Fighters '94, '95, '96, '97 and '98. Although there are certainly major tweaks to the combat system and character rosters across all five iterations, you won't see any game-changing revolutions as you sweep over the disc, like the series making the jump to 3D or introducing radical new systems. Orochi Saga is simply a gathering of five 2D fighters that evolved subtly over the years, but even the visuals look about the same across each title. If you're a long-time fan of SNK, you'll know that it doesn't update sprites all that often.
The setup of Orochi Saga is nice. You can jump back to the main menu at any time, which is a circular affair where you can access all five games as well as special Challenges and bonus material. Playing through Challenges, which are basically matches with special conditions, gives you the opportunity to unlock artwork and soundtracks, which is a great touch. But obviously the majority of your time with Orochi Saga will be spent playing one of the five games included.
As far as performance goes, this compilation runs well and has reasonable load times. I would have liked to see things boot up a bit faster, but I've certainly waited for longer on other occasions. I didn't see any problems with the games themselves, although there is the expected slowdown during the big flashy moments that seems to plague most modern emulations, but it was completely tolerable.
One of the best features of Orochi Saga (and something I'd like to see used in more fighting games) is the implementation of the training menu. Although it would have been nice to set a button to reset the battle when you get to the edge of the stage, I loved how easily accessible moves lists were when training in Orochi Saga. All you have to do is hit start and your move list is right there at your fingertips. From here, you can easily scroll through the different moves and demo them to see how they look, or just hit a button to regain control but keep the selected move overlaid on the screen for reference. It's quick, streamlined and I'm terribly surprised such a system isn't the standard for fighting games now (granted, similar systems are popping up somewhat more often).
There's really no reason to go into depth with each and every King of Fighters game in Orochi Saga because, chances are, you've played these games before. If you're new to the King of Fighters experience, this is an inexpensive and effective way to snag five different games at once. If you're a franchise veteran, you probably own these in some form or another (as is the case with revisiting any classic) but this is a convenient collection nonetheless.
The differences between the Wii version and PS2 version are few in number. Almost all the content is identical across the platforms, except you have more control options when you sit down with the Wii Version. Orochi Saga lets you choose between a standard Wii Remote, a Remote/Nunchuck combo, a Classic controller or a GameCube controller. The real problem is that using just the Wii Remote or the Nunchuck combo is not ideal for a 2D fighter. You'll be much better off playing with the Classic controller, an optional (and additional) $20 purchase for each player. I also have to lament the fact that the game is ten dollars more on the Wii than on the PS2, even though you're getting the same content. Then again, if all these games were available via Virtual Console, it would still be cheaper to buy this collection than download them separately.
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