ROF: The Rhythm Of Fighters (iOS and Android)

DanAdamKOF

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SNK's website | Google Play | iTunes

So, SNK made a rhythm game (again, if you remember the Cool Cool series). This has a lot of throwback references for oldschool SNK fans, and a very beginner-friendly gameplay that is great for first-time music game players (if you were pissed off at Parappa years ago, this is far easier) and has an upper-level appropriate for experienced rhythm gamers.

It's $1 with some IAP, but you get a full gameplay experience for your $1. You can ignore the IAP for characters, since main characters are (mostly) just aesthetic, and assist characters are for making levels a bit easier (save a dropped combo, regain health while playing, etc), and you earn some assist characters in-game already. Song packs are 4 songs for $3, up to you if that's worth it, but the game comes with 14 songs (one unlockable), which is plenty for a casual gamer.

I'm almost done writing a review of this game, I'll post it below in a bit.
 
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DanAdamKOF

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DanAdamKOF's review of The Rhythm Of Fighters (ROF):
I'm a long-time rhythm game and SNK fan. This game is a great addition to the music game genre, while including a lot of great SNK tunes and references. Your $1 is very well spent on it!

The gameplay is pretty simple for a music game since you can tap any area on screen for input. Most rhythm games need you to tap a specific marker on the screen or press a specific button, but in ROF the entire screen is your input area, letting you focus on jamming out. One cool thing about this is that tapping anywhere on screen means that this game doesn't "feel small" on a phone instead of a tablet. You score best by timing exactly with the rhythm, but there's some wiggle room to play less-than-perfectly and still do OK for less points (this works like games such as DDR with "timing windows" instead of hit/miss like Guitar Hero). As someone who likes difficult music games, I was a bit wary that this simplified gameplay would make things a bit easy, but this allows for plenty of upper-level difficulty, while also serving as a very forgiving playstyle for beginners.

Assist characters are another beginner-friendly aspect. They give you a powerup in some area of the game that makes the game easier. Let's say you have a level that needs a 50-combo to clear, but you can't manage to get more than about 25 each time before you mess up. Use an assist character that "saves" a combo once time, and you'll probably be able to clear this level. If you've played DJMax, this is really similar to its equip system, just a bit more conservative (from what I've seen so far).

The gameplay is presented in the context of a fighting game. You have a health bar that you need to keep above a KO to get to the end of a song, your character will occasionally deal out hits depending on combo, your opponents will attack, which you might block or not depending on your combo. Defeat a character, and another takes his/her place (it's an unlimited amount and not just 3 like KOF). It's neat but admittedly it does get a bit repetitive, since there's only a few characters and you'll hear the same attacks over and over.

The tunes are recognizable to anyone that's played a handful of SNK games, and span a variety of games and song genres. Even if you're not a hardcore SNK fan, you'll find that the music is fun and upbeat with memorable tunes (I haven't heard some of these songs in years and I remembered them instantly with just a few bars of the intro!). Unfortunately, one of the first songs you play is a screechy "anime sounding" Japanese song from a Pachislo (slot machine) game, not something most non-Japanese players would be accustomed to nor recognize. Bear with it because the majority of the music is accessible for a broad range of musical tastes. Oh, might I add that the menu music is a remix of the Neo-Geo bootup jingle!? You can also customize the sounds the game makes while you tap to the song, so far I am loving the Metal Slug sound pack, with screaming soldiers during the gold sections!

The in-game graphics are a throwback to old SNK games (mostly from the Neo-Geo), and have that "chunky pixel" look. Again, I think this helps the game feel at-home on a phone screen, since you'll just see chunkier pixels on a tablet. The artwork is great, I think it's original for the main characters' portraits, and the assist characters are from old material, and everything looks sharp and well-chosen. These assist characters possibly my favorite part of the game, a lot of them are from obscure or forgotten SNK games (Buriki One, Quiz KOF, to name a few), but casual SNK fans will still recognize a chunk of them.

Finally, the price. You get a LOT here for $1. If you're only a casual player, this will keep you occupied for a long time. The song packs are $3 for 4 songs, up to you if that's worth it, and you do get to preview the songs (useful if you're like me and don't know the actual names of your favorite games' tunes). The rest I would call optional, and not anything that will give you a huge edge by paying for it. The main characters can probably be ignored safely unless you want one of your favorites dealing the damage, however they do have different attributes, so perhaps if you need a character that does more damage, or heals, or something special, maybe buying one of the IAP characters will give you a leg-up. The assist characters provide some special abilities, and could possible give you an edge if you aren't skilled enough to clear certain levels and the normal assist characters don't cut it. But if you practice a lot, you should be able to clear any level the game throws at you. The assist characters are unlocked permanently when you buy them, so it's not like you're "paying to win" just one level.

With the assist characters giving you a leg-up, and the simplified "tap anywhere" gameplay, I do recommend this to someone who doesn't play music games (or play often), but if you're in that category, you'll need to be patient and spend a bit of time getting good at the game, and be prepared to at times try over and over to clear a song you're stuck on. That's par for the course for any music game, don't think that those guys who play DDR at the arcade that boggle your mind just walked up to the machine one day and started playing the hardest songs. Also, you may want to set aside a bit for some song packs that include easier songs. The songs included for $1 do start off pretty easy in arcade mode, but there aren't a lot of songs and charts (each song has 3 difficulties, which are different charts) that are super-easy. Perhaps you'll want to buy a pack or two with charts in the range you can pass. I wouldn't call this necessary, but if you're a newbie music gamer who wants to get good at this game, you may need more charts as a stepping stone to practice with. This happens a lot in music games ("I can do all the 3s but the 4s are killing me!"), so it's not unique to this game.

I wouldn't have written this much if I didn't like this game this much. I feel like they made this game just for me, but I think anyone with either an interest in SNK or in music games will find a lot to enjoy here. Stop reading and start playing!

(Addendum: this part is sort of music gamer-centric, skip it if you want)
I've played through most of the first 7 Arcade mode courses, and so far I've seen some pretty standard music game "notes": tap, hold (you're also timed on letting go, like IIDX and DJMax), and flick (sometimes combined with the end of a hold) are seen early on. Flicks can be fun, the game encourages you to leave your finger in place for chains and even says to "scratch", and indeed these do sort of feel similar to the turntable in beatmania/IIDX. They're often used for a sound effect/sample/stab/distinct part, and they're often chained so you swoosh your finger back and forth. The game seems really sensitive to them, so if you have bad memories of the slides in Rhythm Heaven on DS, don't let that bother you.

Later you encounter repeated notes in place ("jacks" if you know the term, these are similar to DJMax Technika's purple notes), and I think these could work better. The game could just show multiple notes in the circle (it did this for all of the charts with jacks prior to the first one I encountered with actual jack notes), but instead it leaves one note in place, which appears as the standard looking note (NOT a special note to show it has jacks), and shows multiple markers moving into it. I guess this keeps the circle in the middle from looking crowded with a bunch of tightly-packed notes, but if you're an extremely visual music gamer this does throw off how the circle appears to work, since you're hitting a note "in the past" instead of in real-time (admittedly this is kind of true in Technika, but this feels weirder in ROF because everything happens in the same spot in the circle). My biggest problem is that the note itself doesn't look distinct despite being special, so unless you're watching carefully, you might miss the multiple markers and not notice it's a jack. I guess it's part of learning to read the game, but I still think these jacks need to stand out. One thing though, for all the griping I'm doing about the jacks, I think these are setting up for multiple notes at once ("chords" (or "jumps" if you play dance games)). I haven't seen them yet, but they're certainly possible, with having a jack on one side of the circle and a standalone note that you have to hit at the same time as one of the jacks.

The charts are good and make sense for the most part, but there are some songs where I've thought "what exactly am I hitting here?". Admittedly I haven't played with headphones yet, so these could align with a quiet background part (this always throws me off in DDR). Timing feels about like IIDX, with JUST timing feeling almost as tight as a Just Great (feels a little wider though). You can offset the lag ahead or behind, and some devices do seem to have a bit of inherent lag, so if you're feeling like things are off and you have to hit ahead/behind consistently, definitely play with the lag offset. It feels OK at 0 on my Galaxy Nexus. The calibration put me at about +50, but I tend to time sort of early anyway, so 0 feels like every music game does to me.
 
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DanAdamKOF

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Fuck. Well whatever.

Sent from my Galaxy Nexus using Tapatalk
 

topher

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Great review Dan. Have the game and agree 100℅
 

Syxx573

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Oct 17, 2003
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Nice review, danadamkof!!! I love this game and have a few high scores on some of the arcade courses on the Android version. Just look for the Chris benoit face lol. 4 new song packs are coming soon.... Hopefully tonight!!!!
 
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