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The King of Fighters ALLSTAR

App review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
The King of Fighters ALLSTAR App Poster Image
This trip down memory lane packs a knockout punch.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Ease of Play

The main fighting portion of the game is extremely simple to pick up and play, with dedicated buttons to tap for attack and defense. Managing your collection of characters, though, can get much more involved and complicated, with players needing to expand characters' abilities, stats, etc., while dealing with things like team bonuses, equipping cards, and analyzing specific skills.

Violence

With "Fighters" as part of the title, it should come as no surprise that combat is central to the game. Players punch, kick, and use special abilities to beat up waves of enemies, usually culminating in a boss fight of some sort. While there are a lot of flashy effects, there's nothing graphic shown onscreen and defeated enemies simply collapse on the ground and disappear.

Sex

Many female characters are presented in a sexualized manner, posing suggestively with revealing outfits such as low-cut tops showing off extreme cleavage, miniskirts, or dresses with high cut slits, and similar outfits, as well as "bouncing" chests.

Language
Consumerism

The game relies on a fair amount of microtransactions for players to build and evolve their collection of characters. Even so, it's possible to make decent progress, especially earlier one, without being forced to pay to play. The game features characters from many of SNK's game franchises as well, and is the latest installment in the King of Fighters franchise.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some characters appear drinking wine and alcohol, and players can give these items to those characters as gifts to raise their closeness with each other.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The King of Fighters ALLSTAR is a free-to-play side-scrolling action game available for download on iOS and Android devices. The game collects characters from throughout SNK's popular The King of Fighters franchise and spinoffs, putting them together in an original story that spans the series' twenty-five-year history. Violence is a primary focus of the game, with players beating up waves of minions before fighting boss characters. While violence is drives the action, there's never anything particularly graphic shown onscreen. There's no nudity, but some female characters are presented in sexualized ways, like suggestive poses and revealing outfits. Although much of the game can be played without paying money, there are multiple microtransactions available for players to bypass the slow progress grind and add to or improve their collection of characters.

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What's it about?

THE KING OF FIGHTERS ALLSTAR literally brings gamers into the classic fighting and beat 'em up franchise like never before. The story begins with players waking up in a strange virtual world with no memory of who they are or how they got there. Guided by a young girl named Noah, you channel the power and abilities of contestants from the King of Fighters tournaments that have taken place over the years. Meanwhile, the creators of this virtual environment have discovered your presence as a "bug" in the programming, capable of throwing a wrench into their plans to cleanse the "real world." Hunted throughout fighting history, you'll need to recruit fighters to your cause, tapping into their abilities and proving your skills as you prove yourself to be the true "King of Fighters."

Is it any good?

This popular fighting franchise is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, and as part of the festivities, the series has gotten a new game for mobile devices. The King of Fighters ALLSTAR isn't just a quick grab for attention though. The side-scrolling beat 'em up game is a highly polished, action-packed stroll down memory lane that's easy to pick up, but ridiculously hard to put down. The gameplay is fluid, fast, and responsive, with a lot of flashy effects and attention to detail that makes it feel less like a mobile game and more like an old school trip to the arcade. It's some button-mashing fun at its finest. There's plenty of solo content to fight through in the game's robust Story mode and its various Battle modes. And arcade fans will have fun pitting their best teams against the teams of other players in the game's multiple online Match modes and Tournaments.

Outside of the combat, there's a lot of content to take in. It can get a bit overwhelming sometimes, as players have to constantly manage their ever-growing roster of fighters. Whether it's leveling them up, upgrading their stats and abilities via an RPG-like (role-playing game) skill tree, or equipping things like assist characters, battle cards, or other such options, there's almost always some way to tweak and improve your characters. Of course, doing this is likely to burn through a lot of resources, encouraging people to either grind through a never-ending list of in-game challenges or to shell out some real-world cash to pick up a boost from one or more of the microtransaction bundles available in the shop. These offers are helpful, but thankfully not necessary to get a lot out of the game. Instead, The King of Fighters ALLSTAR comes across as a true celebration of an iconic series, and a great addition to a franchise that continues to prove itself time and again over the years.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about mobile game design. What are some kinds of games that translate well to mobile devices? How much does it mean to bring popular franchises to mobile gamers in new ways?

  • What are some of the ways that games and gamers benefit from the use of microtransactions in games? What are some of the ways these in-game purchases can hurt the gaming experience?

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