50.000 dollars and I'm yours
by Tibe (2018)
Here is THE Neo Geo AES game which is simply the Holy Grail in the eyes of video game collectors, and that's for a pretty good reason:copies of the European version can be counted on the fingers of one hand, while the japanese version, slightly less rare, is still nowadays being exchanged for more than 2000 euros. Kizuna Encounter is a game of versus fighting that few players have experienced at the time of its release (and even less are still alive to tell about it). Indeed, back then the blockbusters of the arcade were already in 3D (all of the "Virtua" something and the first games of Tekken) and concerning the 2D fighters, which were already a "niche" in the market of players, Kof 96 and X- Men VS Street Fighter were holding the upper hand. The latter, very successful and offering like our reviewed game a system of "tag", will hide considerably Kizuna Encounter thanks to the popularity of Capcom franchises. These factors explain why the sequel to Savage Reign went relatively unnoticed by the public, when it was released in 1996.
If Savage Reign was not a particularly brilliant fighting game, its originality and some good ideas made it a rather fun game. Kizuna Encounter raises the bar a little higher, looking for a more "serious" aspect. No more two game planes, SNK has opted for a tag battle system and an improved, wider gameplay. Player first have to choose two characters among ten, who will be able to fight in turn when you decide. Only condition, they will have to be in the 'tag' area, ie at the place where fighter cahnge is allowed. The inactive warrior is recovering a part of his health if he stays for a while outside the fight, so it's up to you to manage your workforce. Be careful though, because unlike most other tag battle games, if your active character is knocked out, you lose the game. And KE is played in one winning round, you are warned. The nice detail in our game is that it's possible to play in a "cooperative" way: two human players in the same team, taking turns for combat. This is a very interesting idea, which provides a different approach for two players in versus fighting game.
Our soft offers a technical aspect more than decent. Punch with A, kick with B, use your weapon with C, and change the fighter with D. There are multiple other moves, dash, dodge, 'tag' attacks, overhead, guard cancel, two power levels for attacks foot and hand, as well as a plethora of special attacks for each character. The game is also full of combos, and it's possible to perform some sublime sequences using your two warriors. Most of the protagonists are interesting to play, however we can regret that Kim and Rosa are still clearly above the rest of the roster. On the other hand, and this is a personal judgment, I don't like much dealing with ridiculous characters like Clown or Gordon, to name just a few. Sets of moves and looks that came out of brains full of ecstasy, why not. But at this point, don't do things by halves, and give 100% like Karnov's Revenge or Matrimelee guys did. But don't try to make it look serious and eventually kill it with two or three jackasses in the roster.
Kizuna features some beautiful urban backgrounds, unfortunately too few, like the characters. The animation is particularly dynamic, using zooms à la Art of Fighting and a honest decomposition of movements, in addition to a few pyrotechnic effects of good quality. The soundtrack consists of six main themes accompanying the fights, plus shorter sequences punctuating the various phases of the game. That's not much! And to be clear, there is nothing memorable. I'm a little disappointed with this Fu'un Super Tag Battle: certainly there's a lot of combos and a nice technical depth, the tag team battle system, a well-balanced difficulty for the story mode... but I stay on my hunger with a poor roster with some ridiculous characters, and a realization in fine below the greatests games of that era. Finally, it is difficult to understand that in 1996 SNK had chosen to produce Art of Fighting 3 and Kizuna Encounter, two games certainly not bad, but a waste of time and budget, when we know that Kof 96 and Real Bout Special were already in the pipes at the same period and were real killers.
|The style reminds of AOF2, so it's very well drawn, but there are few backgrounds and fighters, and one turns around quickly.|
|The zooms are efficient, the game speed average and the smoothness of the moves pretty decent.|
|The themes are far from unforgettable, but the sound effects are great, with nice impact noises.|
|There's only ten characters to chose from (twelve with a tip), but it's interesting to play two in a team and it makes the game more interesting.|
|Kizuna Encounter is technical and really interesting for who will take the time to get into it to improve, as it's full of special and combination.|
|Clearly a second class fighting game on the Neo Geo, seeing the contemporary titles: Ninja Masters, Kof 96, Real Bout Special, Samurai Spirits IV, etc...|
VALUE FOR MONEY (2018)
The japanese version of Kizuna sells for more than two thousand euros, and let's not talk about the euro one. Certainly a title to book for collectors only. As a gamer, if you want some tag team battle, the best choice is Kof 2003 (less than 1000 euros, lucky you).