SNK hasbeen behind some of the greatest fighters of all time. PS2 owners have been inluck over the past couple of years, as SNK Playmore has released several oftheir classic 2D fighters, and some new ones, too. Enter NEOGEO Battle Coliseum,a new title for the PS2 that brings together nearly forty fighters from a widerange of SNK titles...
I'm a big fan of old school fighters, and new ones for that matter, even though I'm not necessarily very good at them, so I was looking forward to this one.
At the start of the game, you don't get quite all forty or so characters, but you have about thirty-six to choose from. These fighters include representatives from SNK fighters ranging from Fatal Fury to Last Blade to Art of Fighting to World Heroes, to even Metal Slug, and a few others, too. Honestly most of the selection was unknown to me, but I found Tung Fu Rue (from Fatal Fury fame I believe) and either Kim or Robert to be a good combination. It's worth mentioning at this point that this is a purely tag team game -- there are no one on one matches, it's tag battles all the way. Furthermore, while there may appear to be a few modes from the main menu, there really aren't all that many. Arcade Play is nearly identical to Tag Play, with the main difference being that in Arcade Play you only have to beat one of the CPU's fighters instead of two.
That said, you may want to enter the Practice mode first. From here you can specify a variety of options for CPU behavior and test out your moves. The manual, as well as an on screen move list (also accessible during normal battles, not just the Practice mode) shows you the names and button combos necessary to pull of special and super special moves. I tend to struggle with more complicated moves no matter what the platform or fighting game, and that goes for this title, too. Also, the analog stick doesn't work with this game, so the half-circle directional moves will have to be done with the d-pad. Regardless, I found most moves difficult, and some just impossible to do. I tend to blame this on my poor fighting game skills, but there may be something to be said with the game being a bit strict, too. Something else that is cool, but maybe a non-factor if you have difficulty with fighting game controls like I do, is that if you pair up certain characters for your tag team, they can perform some really sweet tag team combos that put a major hurting on the enemy.
You will definitely need a good handle on your characters' skills before trying the Survival Challenge mode that is exactly as it sounds; you play until your two fighters' lives are empty. Great for practicing your moves as well as unlocking plenty of artwork and the like, too. One interesting element to this game that comes into play in this mode as much as any other is that if you fight with one character for at least eight seconds, the life line of the other character will begin to fill up; so there is an interesting layer of strategy added to the mayhem.
Getting back to the Arcade mode, I was a bit surprised at the setup for NEOGEO Battle Coliseum. You begin the first fight with a timer counting down from about 300 seconds or more; what's interesting is that you fight as many CPU characters as you can during this time, but when your time is up, a cutscene interrupts and you have a boss fight. I haven't yet figured it out, but there is some way to unlock these bosses, I believe there are four total, so that you can use them in battle.
You also have the option to challenge a friend in local play versus battles. All in all, there aren't many modes, but if you are a big fan of fighters, there is a lot of content here: about forty fighters, dozens of moves, and plenty of unlockable content.
A GoodLooking Value
NEOGEOBattle Coliseum isn't the most visually stunning fighter on the PS2, but it has a classic old school 2D fighter look we've come to expect from SNK. The backgrounds are vividly colored and often nicely detailed. Battles take place from a variety of places, including next to a giant satellite and near some old ruins. Character models look fairly rough, but are animated smoothly; they just aren't very high resolution at all, in fact they are just some 2D sprites. It just seems to fit though; I was never distracted by the admittedly lower quality character models. Also, the background music tracks are fitting and carry on a nice beat.