The King of Fighters All Star is classified as an Action RPG but closely resembles a beat em up from the old 16-bit era. When I first heard that Netmarble was releasing a mobile King of Fighters game that would be a side scrolling beat em up, I didn’t know what to expect. The game has been out in Korea and Japan for a while now, but I haven’t ever seen to much about it other than a few screenshots. The King of Fighters has a legacy for strong fighting games but could this translate over to a new genre and even more important can it be done justice on a touch screen? After my hands on demo at E3 2019 I can safely say yes, yes it can!
For my Demo I was playing on and iPad and man what a good looking game The King of Fighters All Star is! Ton’s of colors and fluid animations light up the screen and the absurdly high damage numbers given off when hitting an enemy just filled me with happiness to see. As for the gameplay itself, The King of Fighters All Star plays like a great modern beat em up. You can move up and down or right to left on the screen to engage enemies or to avoid attacks. Movement is all handled by a virtual thumbstick on the bottom left side of the display. A dodge mechanic has also been implemented that can be triggered by the touch of a button on the bottom right. There is also a block button here for those moments you want to stand your ground.
Moving on to combat, a normal attack button will serves as your main go to for taking down enemies. repeatedly landing blows chains together combos that look visually pleasing! Around the attack button are a series of special moves. Each character in All Star has their own unique sets that will do different moves. Each special has a cooldown timer so they can not be spammed. I wound up saving these specials for the more beefy enemies and boss fights! There is also a button for a desperation move and a special finisher which both build up over the course of gameplay and unleash awesome looking attacks. All Star also has 2 special summoning commands that can call in an ally to deal damage to enemies on screen.
When playing through All Star you play as a team of three characters so the last 2 buttons on the top of the HUD allow you to swap between them. Character swapping is an important part of gameplay. If you have a character that is getting hurt and don’t want to lose them swap to one of your other 2! Again each character in the game also has their own unique attacks and skills so one might be better suited for a specific fight than another.
It took me a minute to get used to the touch screen controls, as I don’t frequent the mobile scene frequently, but within a few minutes I was blasting away enemies and taking on my first boss! In total the demo I got to play had 3 levels each with an ending boss that grew in power. The final boss really showcased the usefulness of the dodging mechanic as it would blast an area around it with fire. After finally submitting this final boss I was given my total time to complete the 3 courses. I can see this becoming a very competitive speedrun game!
In my hands on preview I played as Team Ikari Warriors, which consisted of Leona, Ralf and Clark. Other teams available include Team Art of Fighting, Team Fatal Fury and Team Japan and Team Femme Fatales. All Star is set to include every single King of Fighters character ever released all the way back to King of Fighters 94’! Sadly I didn’t get a chance to try every team I wanted during my time at E3. I never knew that I wanted a mobile brawler so bad so thankfully The King of Fighters All Star will be releasing soon on iOS and Android. If you are a long time fan of the series or just love beat em ups this is going to be the game for you!