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PS2 Review: Neo Geo Battle Coliseum

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SNK fighters have remained reliable through the years, even in the multiple spin-offs with Capcom. Neo Geo Battle Coliseum is a celebration of sorts, designed to pack in as much hardcore fighting game action and Geo nostalgia as possible to please a rabid fan base of longtime fans. While hardly the deepest or most balanced fighter on the market, for those this is aimed at, it’s gaming bliss at its best.

If you’re die hard enough to know Joy Joy Kid or know which game Cyber Woo is from, this is the fighting game made specifically for you. Battle Coliseum brings back a number of favorites, and introduces non-fighting game characters to the mix brought over from other franchises.

SNK favorites are all here, including Terry, Kyo, Haomaru, Mai, and Kaede. Other known characters like Marco from Metal Slug, Mudman from World Heroes, or Kisarah from the rarely seen Aggressors of Dark Combat all blend to form this fanboys dream title. In all, 40 characters are crammed into this fighting game menagerie.

Game play is instantly familiar to any SNK player, similar in feel to the King of Fighters series with a faster, more kinetic pace behind it. In typical form, this is a four-button brawler with the depth needed from a 2-D brawler.

Fights are battled in tag team fashion, with the ability to switch out a character at any time. Health can be regenerated while on the sidelines, adding an additional layer of strategy. If generic switching isn’t fun enough, the Double Assault takes over. This critical game play mechanic allows for the ally to jump in with a dual attack, causing great damage and eliminating the ability for the opponent to regain health.

Super Cancels can send an enemy special attack as a super special. This is a wildly fun combo creator move, and also a solid surprise attack. Various guard evasion moves allow for quick stepping around incoming attacks, allowing for rapid-fire counter attacks.

All of the strategic options don’t account for balancing issues. Even with all of the available counters and defensive moves, the Samurai Shodown characters bring their high-powered offense with them to the Coliseum. Fumma and Hanzo are equally agile and deadly, with a wealth of special moves for every occasion and ridiculously strong special attacks.

While there is no question the sprites are aging beyond their years and desperately need high-resolution versions, the redrawn characters perfectly mesh with their older counterparts. World Heroes stars Fuuma and Hanzo are beautifully updated to mesh with the modern style, and the same goes for Marco usually negated to a barely discernable sprite in Metal Slug.

While Battle Coliseum is aimed at a specific audience, those that appreciate the depth and style have been given the best fighting game since Capcom vs. SNK 2. This will never be mistaken for Street Fighter III, but in the area of offbeat 2-D fighters, this is as good as it gets these days.

Neo Geo Battle Coliseum is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Animated Blood, Suggestive Themes, Violence.

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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for Pulp365.com. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.