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Last year's iOS release of The King of Fighters-i mirrored its console counterparts, bringing the franchise’s popular 3-on-3 action to your pocket. The King of Fighters-i 2012 is essentially the deluxe version of that game, including a dozen more characters, a time attack mode, and online multiplayer battles. But truly successful fighting games require rock-solid mechanics and controls, and sadly, it's in these facets that Fighters-i 2012 stumbles, though it tries rather hard to stand tall.
iOS devices aren’t particularly accommodating for fighting games, so kudos to SNK Playmore for encroaching on success within said limitations. Special moves, which typically require a chain of inputs, are mapped to one button for simpler use, while super special moves are executed by briefly tapping the power gauge. If it’s flashy, you can probably do it in a few quick presses. Dig a little deeper, though, and things fall apart. Monster combos arise that would be difficult to pull off with a proper controller, let alone a touch device, and diagonal movements seem spotty and unresponsive, especially when jumping.
Fighters-i 2012 features a robust training mode complete with move and combo lists, as well as options for opponent behavior. The tutorial mode will get new players up to speed executing specials, combos, evades, throws, and cancels in no time, but the star addition here is the online mode. Matches connect quickly and rarely drop, and the lag is minimal throughout.
Though Fighters isn’t traditionally as speedy a game as something like Marvel vs. Capcom 3, the input issues severely hinder the pacing. With its core mechanics so stunted, it's hard to imagine spending more time with Fighters-i 2012 than its superior console cousin.
The bottom line. Though the game features tons of content and a fluid online mode, the clunky controls are detrimental to the core experience.
iPhone or iPod touch running iOS 4.2 or later
Roster features over 30 characters. Environment art looks nice. Training mode gets you on your feet quickly. Online fights are speedy.
Longer combos require unreasonable precision. Diagonal movements are spotty. Jagged characters look messy, even on an iPhone screen.