SNK announced their valiant return to video game development for the “core” gaming audience full-time after the success of The King of Fighters XIV, to the point of even changing their name from “SNK Playmore” back to “SNK.” They’ve also included a remix of their old jingle at the beginning of their newest games and trailers again, just to hammer home the sense of nostalgia. After the post-release support they gave to KOFXIV, including four DLC characters, fans presented several ideas for what SNK would handle next. They were all recently caught off guard when they announced their next project to be SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy, an all-female fighting game that will serve as a spiritual successor to the niche-but-popular Neo Geo Pocket Color title SNK Gals’ Fighters.
The company also announced another initiative: Four more DLC characters for KOFXIV. And here people thought the Steam release and digital PS4 rerelease were complete.
The first DLC character in this new group will be Oswald. He debuted in The King of Fighters XI over a decade ago, and came with a unique design, archetype, and move set not only by King of Fighters’ franchise standards, but fighting game standards as a whole.
Oswald is a professional hitman who’s described as an older gentleman, something evinced by his greying hair and wrinkles, though his true motives remain an enigma. He fights with the “Karnöffel” style, where he uses slashing player cards as sharp as knives. Oswald can use them to strike the opponent quickly, where many of his normal, special, and super attacks can combo into each other. The style is partly inspired by X-Men member Gambit’s style in Capcom’s Marvel adaptations, to the point of even having a Royal Flush-like technique. We’ll have to wait until he releases later this year to determine whether he’s top tier like in XI, but it could be on the itinerary of SNK’s developers to make him more balanced this time around.
One of the other characters is a new face named Najd, the winning design from a contest SNK held around specific Middle Eastern territories won by a Saudi Arabian woman. She’ll come with the Masmak Fort Arena stage, designed by a woman from Oman who won a different contest for the same territories. It’s possible you didn’t know Middle Eastern women were aware of SNK games, but the popularity of fighting games is on the rise in these countries. There’s a reason Shaheen and Rashid debuted in Tekken 7 and Street Fighter V, after all.
SNK showed a silhouette teasing the other two characters at the end of the Oswald trailer. There’s a good chance one is Heidern, given the pose, but the other one is currently a mystery. Guesses have included Shingo Yabuki and Blue Mary, but we shouldn’t have to wait too long to see the answer.
A new character was also revealed for SNK Heroines: Samurai Shodown’s Nakoruru. In my post about the game, I went over how it essentially takes SNK Gals’ concept and adds a plethora of fanservice, and not even Nakoruru is off limits here despite previously being conservatively dressed in all her appearances. In fact, plenty of fans didn’t even realize it was her upon seeing the new trailer before the info SNK provided alongside it. Characters in the game will have access to multiple outfits, so there’s a great chance that her default outfit is accessible if her new threads (or lack thereof) are a deal-breaker for you.
Nakoruru is yet another character from KOFXIV, so hopefully they reveal a character who wasn’t in that game next, or they can’t blame anyone for starting to think this will be an asset repurposing game.
SNK also announced The King of Fighters ’97 Global Match, an online version of The King of Fighters ’97 for PS4, Vita, and PC due for release this spring. It’s interesting that this particular game is being chosen for this treatment the series, but it’s apparently one of the more popular installments in Asian territories like China. Note that The King of Fighters ’98 and 2002 have already received expanded rereleases with the Ultimate Edition and Unlimited Edition, respectively, as both installments demand more overall popularity worldwide. Those installments haven’t been released for current-generation platforms yet, but it’s possible they’ll port them after this version releases.
Since it won’t take all of the company’s resources to create DLC for KOFXIV, and how SNK Heroines is reusing several assets from that game, SNK is likely working on at least one other project. This year is the company’s 40th anniversary, so they could have some big projects to reveal at some point, perhaps after the aforementioned initiatives are released. If it’s something big, they’ll make sure to tease it beforehand, so cross your fingers and hope it’s the game you want if you’re a fan of them.