If you’re looking to experience the popular series in chibi form, KING OF FIGHTERS R-2 might be the game for you. But if you missed it in ’99, is there a compelling reason to check it out now?

Based on its 98 arcade and home console predecessor (also available on Switch via the ACA line), R-2 has that reality working against it. Not to mention that there are a whopping ten such superior entries available on the Switch eShop, not suffering from handheld limitations. All this makes it have that much more of a struggle for R-2 to stand out.

Still, I recognize how hugely impressive this game was for its time, especially when compared to GBC fighters. R-2 even tries to add depth through its “Making” mode. Here, you unlock new skills for your fighters across multiple fighting contests. The solo approach and story elements bring some freshness, even if it aids replayability more on paper than in reality.

Of course, teams are what make the KOF series stand out. While the initial character count is in the teens, more can be unlocked. Mixing and matching your trio is entertaining, and all of the fighters are quite well animated. When playing in handheld mode, the buttons are no d-pad, but with a Pro Controller, you’ll fare better.

When SNK GALS’ FIGHTERS released for the Switch in late April, it won me over through nostalgia. But R-2 hasn’t had the same impact, even if it’s arguably a better game in some ways. Admittedly, the NGPC skins still take me back, as do the chiptunes and overall visuals. But I’ve been playing this one more for a fair review, and less because I was having fun. Maybe if R-2 had been bundled with the handheld entry that preceded it, King of Fighters R-1, it would’ve been a stronger release? Or maybe if my wife were into games like these, I’d have more fun challenging her.

While I’m certainly hoping to see further Neo Geo Pocket Color games eventually come to the Nintendo Switch, maybe pick from a different genre for the next release. KING OF FIGHTERS R-2 is still decent for what it is, but only big fans of 2D fighters need to experience it on the Switch. There are many other choices available, including a couple from the NGPC. And you can get one of the bigger entries for the same $7.99 price.