Whenever I play a fighting game it tends to be with a few mates, a crate full of beer and a lot of button bashing; but when I received NeoGeo Battle Coliseum for review, I thought it would be a good opportunity to finally learn how to actually play a fighting game properly - oh boy did I have a lot to learn!
NeoGeo Battle Coliseum has the standard modes found in most fighting games, Story Mode, Survival Mode, Vs Mode and Practice Mode. You are also able to go online and fight against your friends or random opponents. Story Mode consists of 6 battles and then a boss at the end that changes depending on how you performed in the previous battles. Survival Mode is exactly what it always is – keep fighting until you die and the Vs Mode allows you to play against your friends on the same Xbox 360.
Upon loading any of the modes you will notice you have a good 30 characters to choose from. You must choose two, as NeoGeo Battle Coliseum is a tag based fighting game and, unlike some other tag based fighting games, in each fight you must knock out both opponents to continue. You have your punches, kicks, counters, combos, super combos and other crazy fighting moves in order to do this, but actually pulling a combo off can sometimes seem like an impossible task for a beginner. I had a bit of trouble getting past the later stages but found that the difficulty can be toned down in the options, which means you can progressively make it more difficult as you improve. When I finally made my way to the end of Story Mode for the first time I was greeted by a fellow by the name of Mizuchi who simply spammed me with lightning bolts meaning getting close to him was very challenging. After dying numerous times I was offered some options at the continue screen to make the fight a little easier, one of which was to give him just 1/4 of his health – that made it a lot easier!
The game has nicely animated 2D sprites for the characters and a variety of different backgrounds in both 2D and 3D. Although the graphics don’t seem to have changed much since the original version that was realised on the Atomiswave back in 2005, it does have its charm. The different combos that the characters perform are quite impressive especially the ones performed as a tag team. Movement is fluid and there wasn’t any lag or noticeable errors while playing. After playing through most of the characters, I noticed that they have their own sound effects, which was a nice touch.
A common problem with most arcade titles is the lack of people playing them online and sadly NeoGeo Battle Coliseum suffers because of this too. I couldn’t find a single person to play online with after spamming quick match for a while, and even creating a game and leaving it for an hour didn't help either. I really hope something is done to improve this situation for Xbox Live Arcade titles soon, otherwise we may not see the option to play online in future Arcade games.
If you are good at fighting games then NeoGeo Battle Coliseum is right up your street at a reasonable price of 800 Microsoft Points, but for the beginner I wouldn’t advise picking this one up unless you are prepared for the steep learning curve. One piece of advice I can give anyone new to fighting games is to buy an arcade stick, as the standard Xbox 360 Controller makes performing combos a pain.