|System: PSP, Wii, PS2||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: SNK Playmore||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: SNK Playmore||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 28, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Covering a time span of five years, the assumption would be to see a steady progression in gameplay mechanics or at least some sense of refinement as one moves up the historical SNK chain. Even though you're getting five games in one, there is a sense of diminishing returns present. Sure, each entry in the series has more characters, a slightly higher amount of sprite detail, and some new moves, but the basic gameplay is one that centers primarily around special attacks.
While fighting games now have advanced counter systems and sophisticated multi-hit combos, all the games in Orochi Saga are of a wait to perform the special move nature. You can't really build up big combos and the counter system present is minimal. It never feels like you're being strategic in any real sense rather, you're blocking and setting up for that moment where you do a stereotypical quarter-circle punch move. Since all the games essentially play like this, it begs the question: do we need five versions of this? SNK fans will undoubtedly say yes; however, those new to the fold may echo the question.
Aside from the general arcade and two-player mode, Orochi Saga also features a dedicated training and challenge mode. The Training mode is quite extensive; you can pick any move and have it displayed onscreen right below your health bar. This may not seem like much, but having the move onscreen as opposed to forcing you to continually jump back into a menu to see it is a nice touch. Yet, for that smart decision there's one particularly strange omission: you can have the computer block your attacks, jump, or even mirror your actions, but there's no general sparring mode. If you want that, you have to jump back to the arcade mode.
The different battle conditions present in challenge mode spruce up gameplay simply because they introduce some variety. You might fight an enemy, but not be allowed to see their health bar or power meters; some opponents can only be damaged with combos that are three hits or higher; and other battles may start you out wounded, but reward you with health for every hit you score. These battle qualifiers definitely make for some hardcore fights, which makes your reward seem not all that worthwhile. Beating challenges awards you with concept art and galleries, as well as arranged and official soundtrack music. These awards have a ho-hum effect. They don't unlock anything that ultimately affects the game they're more of fan service than anything else.
The King of Fighters Collection: The Orochi Saga ultimately falls flat because of technical issues that render its attempts at historical authenticity paltry. Only the most diehard SNK fans who want their fighting on the go (and can deal with their precious titles having some emulation errors) should pick up this title. It's really hard to recommend this title, especially when the PS2 version is available at half the price.
CCC Freelance Writer