King of Fighters: Orochi Saga Wii Review - April 24th 2009

It seems like every other week that a new retro 90s fighter collection is released by Ignition Entertainment, and they just keep coming. This time round though, the collection looks very promising showcasing a series that features characters from nearly every NeoGeo fighter on the market at each title's time of release.

The King of Fighters Collection: The Orochi Saga is a collection of 5 titles from the KOF series, all released between 94 and 98, and shows the progression the games made over that time. Revered at the time for its graphical quality and gameplay, do these classics stand up today? And if so, is it really worth buying all 5 in one package?

The games featured span half a decade of King of Fighters; the first 5 games in the franchise. While this means that there will be some people who still haven't had a chance to play through these old games, it also means that rereleases have been plentiful. Fans of the series will have no doubt had plenty of exposure to these games, the releases that lay the foundations for the 12 KOF games there have been so far. The differences between these games are minimal though, which I'll go into later, and so it may take a fan to even spot which game is which when playing through them. As is the case with other collections, the first thing to consider is whether you are a fan already or not. Those who haven't delved into the series before may have to spend a fair amount of playtime learning the basics of the controls and intricacies of the series, which is not the point of a retro collection. This culminates in a game that is for fans of the series, and other fighters from that time, and not for those who aren't so well accustomed.

Singularly the games can be classics, but as a collection it falls some way short.

The game plays like most 2D fighters of the era, although King of Fighters puts a twist on the basic formula. You will be fighting off in one-on-one fights with a huge amount of differing characters, but rather than select a single character before the match, the game is always played in teams of three. As soon as one of your combatants is downed, another steps into the fray, while your opponent recovers some health. The same works vice versa too, meaning that you can work your way through all of your foes with the one character you can depend on. This adds a level of tactical play to the character selection as you need to consider whether to enter the fray with a heavy hitter, or save them for last, knocking off as much health as possible with the less powerful characters. This is a welcome addition to the genre, and distinguishes the series from other NeoGeo fighters, such as Fatal Fury.

Every control method is catered for in The Orochi Saga; choosing between which one to use is simple though. Only the Classic and GameCube controller options are worth trying, thanks to poor control choices with the other two methods. The Wii Remote option has you using it on its side, which works okay, but sadly there aren't enough buttons available to access all the moves needed. This is a problem, especially in the later games, as while the basic punch and kick combinations are there, more complicated moves can't be pulled off. The worst choice though uses the Nunchuck with the Wii remote, and while you now have all moves available to you, actually knowing which button to press is near impossible. Punches and kicks are mapped to A, B, C, and Z with this becoming very confusing very early on. Not being able to perform the most basic of actions is fatal for a game like this, making the tried and tested Classic controller option the only one worth using. A GameCube one works just as well, but if you have neither it may be worth giving The Orochi Saga a miss.

It's an important collection for fighting fans to play if they are interested in the history of the genre.

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