When additional characters are added to a fighting game, it must be an absolute nightmare to balance them. So much development work goes into making sure that each fighter is able to battle the others with no game-breaking bugs or glitches occuring, and then there's the matter of actual gameplay balance; who's overpowered, who's underpowered and who's flat-out broken.
Adding new characters to a game shouldn't be done lightly, then, and they need to be ready for primetime if they're to enter an already delicately-balanced roster. SNK is well-known for its well-crafted fighting systems, so the new characters in its Heroines Tag Team Frenzy title must arguably stand up to even more scrutiny than the average battler. Let's take a look at the extra characters on offer in this game and see if they stack up to their stablemates.
Fans of Street Fighter EX should be familiar with Skullo Mania, who’s been gender-swapped for his appearance in SNK Heroines Tag Team Frenzy. All of the DLC characters in the game have their own single-player endings, but they’re rather lacking in other departments, sporting only one costume apiece (although different-coloured versions of the costume are available). Still, Skullo Mania plays pretty well; his (or perhaps we should say her) movements are largely close-range melee and grab attacks with some close-quarters specials thrown in for good measure. We won’t spoil Skullo Mania’s ending, but it’ll probably be quite satisfying for those who are familiar with Street Fighter EX.
Thief Arthur belongs to an altogether more obscure franchise in the form of Square Enix’s card battler Million Arthur, which hasn’t been localised outside of Japan. As such, all but the most dedicated import gamers will probably struggle to recognise Thief Arthur, but if you’re a fan of her series and have played a translated or imported version then you’ll be pretty pleased with the results. Unlike Skullo Mania, Thief Arthur’s kit places much more emphasis on range, with projectiles and wide-angle attacks designed to keep your enemies away from you. Like Skullo Mania, Thief Arthur has her own single-player ending and a variety of chromas to choose from for her single costume. In the unlikely event that you’ve played some of the Million Arthur games, this one’s a no-brainer, but you can safely stay away if you’re not a fan of that franchise.
Spoilers: MissX is actually a guy. In SNK Gal’s Fighters, MissX hosts the Queen of Fighters tournament, but is later revealed to be male character Iori Yagami in disguise. Appropriately enough, MissX has been fully gender-swapped for inclusion in SNK Heroines Tag Team Frenzy, although a purchasable outfit for the character does feature the male version. MissX’s moveset is quite varied, consisting of both close-quarters punishments and long-range counters. The character has a unique visual sensibility that’s worth experiencing, although the pricing for these characters might be a little on the high side. If you’re an SNK Gal’s Fighters fan, you’ve probably already picked this character up, but if not then you should snap up MissX as it’s a canny bit of fan service.
True to her origins in ADK and SNK’s World Heroes series, Jeanne is a sluggish and tanky fighter who battles primarily with her massive sword. Fans of Soul Calibur’s Astaroth, Super Smash Bros’ Bowser and Street Fighter’s E. Honda will be enamoured with Jeanne, who’s slower but more powerful to make up for it. She’s available in the standard warrior’s armour she usually wears, as well as a slightly more revealing bikini ensemble (hey, this is a fan service game, after all). She does have a few gap-closers and a special move with surprising range, but all in all Jeanne is a close quarters combatant through and through. There’s a bit of visual “oomph” lacking from her animations, but she’s just as well-crafted and well-implemented as the other three characters on this list.
So, to the million-dollar question: should you buy these extra characters for SNK Heroines Tag Team Frenzy? Well, if you liked the base game and its fighting system, then these four characters essentially just represent more of that gameplay. A lot of thought and care has gone into creating these fighters and making sure they’re consistent with the tone of the world; each character has their own bespoke single-player ending, as well as interactions with the other characters in the roster and a set of custom cutscenes for their story path. It’s clear that MissX, Jeanne, Thief Arthur and Skullo Mania aren’t just afterthoughts, but whether or not you want to purchase them will depend largely on the size of your wallet. Each character costs a pretty penny, so it might be worth waiting until a package is available for a reduced price. That said, you’re definitely getting your money’s worth if you’re a fan of the game.