It’s been over a month since KOF for Girls was launched. I’ve been playing since day one. I’ll share some thoughts and impressions here.
(Warning: Spoilers below)
You have access to fifteen characters from the start. The game’s goal is to collect the beautifully illustrated special cards that you can equip to each character.
Romance-able characters are Kyo, Benimaru, Shingo, Iori, K’, Maxima, Ryo, Robert, Bao, Terry, Andy, Joe, Billy, Yomi and Nagi.
Secondary characters who appear during the story but don’t allow a romantic relationship are: Yamazaki, Kim, Chang, Choi, Jhun and Kensou.
The main story comprises a short Prologue to introduce the teams, and four 30-chapter arcs. Unfortunately, only the 5-chapter Prologue is voiced. The rest of the main story, the side stories and the card stories are Japanese-text-only with some interjections.
The protagonist’s default name is Yukari Mitsumine. She’s an unemployed young woman who gets a job as assistant to Kyo’s team. She has no previous knowledge about fighting tournaments or KOF. As she doesn’t have a place to live, she stays at the Daimon dojo. Her duties include cleaning, grocery shopping, and cooking for the boys. She also tags along to the stadium where the KOF tournament is held, and ensures that Kyo’s team has towels and water bottles readily available.
In the area around the stadium, some people develop symptoms reminiscent of the Riot of the Blood. Yukari discovers that she can cast a “purifying” power that can return these people to normal.
Nagi, the antagonist and tournament organizer, tries to contaminate water springs to spread an evil power that would make people behave violently across Japan. One of his objectives is to create a new world only chosen “strong” people will be allowed to enter. This new world will replace the current world, and those denied entry will “turn into flowers”.
His second goal is to find his “princess” and take her with him to the new world.
It goes without saying that the princess is the protagonist.
The main plot focuses on Yukari traveling to some prefectures across Japan, escorted by the KOF characters, and purifying the water springs in order to stop Nagi. She’s intent in making him change his mind, somehow.
The plot is linear, and it doesn’t branch out. There aren’t interactive scenes. The “gameplay” focuses on the enjoyment of the text-only story and the occasional satisfaction of seeing the KOF boys share a nice scene.
Although all the characters are strangely attracted to Yukari, there are no romance elements in the main story, nor choices to start a relationship with any of the boys.
The romance elements can be found only in the side stories or “routes”.
Is KOF romance believable?
First of all, I must clarify that I’m not really a fan of otome games or stories about heterosexual love. I don’t really consider myself part of the target audience for this game.
That being said… In my opinion, the story doesn’t take risks with the protagonist. She’s generically good, willing to sacrifice her well-being and herself in order to do what is right, and, sometimes, her naïveté/purity of heart play against her and make her seem a little slow. In her favor, I admit that her strong points are the warmth, admiration and respect she shows toward the KOF guys.
It is very clear that the writers made an effort to be faithful to the characters’ original personalities, despite the romantic setting. Some of the characters, like Benimaru and Terry, work well for romance, in a very natural way. Others, like Iori and Billy, have to be pushed a bit, and some situations feel forced. Meanwhile, characters like Kyo give off a sense of “it happened because it had to”.
Before the launch, one of my concerns was that the story might try to downplay the deep bonds between the KOF characters, and try to convince us that the love toward the protagonist was more meaningful.
However, this was not the case. Despite the romance, the script takes the time to clearly and carefully stress that the relationship with the protagonist will not change what the KOF characters feel toward their partners, rivals or bosses.
For example, during his route, Iori states: “My desire to kill Kyo is the only part of me that will never change.” Similarly, during a defining moment of his own romance route, Billy says: “I’ll be your bodyguard for now (…). I’m loyal to Geese-sama in my heart. This will never change.”
Side stories a.k.a. routes
Each route is closely related to the main story. The scenes take place after key events and complement them. The interactions between the KOF characters are explored more deeply in these stories.
For example, Billy and Iori have the chance to discuss what happened at the end of KOF’95 ^^, but this is only seen while playing Iori’s route.
Again, the player doesn’t have any say in what is happening. The route has a fixed script, and provides no choices or branches. The characters start a relationship with the protagonist without intervention of the player. The romance is something that happens, whether you want it or not.
Following one character’s route doesn’t lock you out of the other romance options. Watching all romances has no noticeable consequence.
The game includes a checkbox to mark the character you consider your “partner”, but the effect is mostly cosmetic, and has no impact on the story.
Special cards stories
Some cards include two- or three-chapter additional stories, which are unlocked when the cards are leveled up.
Here, the script sometimes branches out, but, again, to a minimum effect. You will know that you picked the correct choice because the character will sparkle and look happy, and the dialogue will become more personal. If you pick the wrong choice, you can replay the chapter, pick the correct choice, and there’ll be no impact.
You can mark your favorite character by activating a heart-shaped icon and thus labeling him as your “partner”.
I haven’t noticed any relevant impact on the game itself.
By enabling the “partner” icon, your favorite will:
– Greet you every time you open the app. Otherwise, you’ll be greeted by a different character each day,
– Be selected by default when you access the different menus.
According to the devs, as this is a game “for girls” and not all girls like fighting games, the battle system was streamlined to be as simple as possible. This means that you can’t participate in the battles, and all you can do is watch. You can’t pick who to attack, or what skill to use. Basically, the game plays itself.
There are two modes:
1) Training: The characters hit wooden logs and earn experience, money and some common card drops.
2) Fights: The characters go against another team. You, as their assistant, can tap the screen repeatedly to cheer for them and fill up a heart-shaped icon. This will give you additional affinity points when the battle is over. You’ll also get materials to level up the cards.
These have been streamlined too. There’s only HP, attack and speed.
The cards allow you to improve your team’s stats—higher defense, speed, HP—or apply debuffs on your rivals. You can also increase the damage dealt by the special skills.
Using a character in your team will earn you affinity points. Visit the characters daily and “touch” them, and you’ll get additional points. Points allow you to unlock special voice messages in the game’s audio gallery.
As an example, the last “special message” is unlocked at 60k points.
After one month playing KOFG, my favorite character has only 8000 affection points.
I ran KOFG in two cell phones, a Galaxy S10 and a S6. The S10 runs the game smoothly, but the S6 struggled with the game–it was extremely slow, to the point of freezing.
I also tried two Android emulators: BlueStacks and Nox. The first one loads the game, but freezes in the “Fight” screen. Nox wasn’t even able to install the game. I’ve heard of people who can play the game in BlueStacks just fine.
There are several comments across different KOFG websites complaining about the game being slow. This is a problem affecting several users. Some people can’t use the app because it crashes or never finishes loading. To date (Dec. 12, 2019), the devs are aware of the issues and have postponed the special December events in order to fix the game.
To date (December 2019), the game is only available in Japanese. The developers have stated that they have no plans to release an international version yet, but this might change if they see that people abroad have interest in this game.
In my humble personal opinion, the effort and love that went into the story and visuals of this game redeems the gameplay’s shortcomings. After all, we wanted this game for the characters. A groundbreaking battle system wasn’t part of anyone’s expectations (hopefully).
The dialogues are faithful to the register used by the characters when talking to each other in SNK canon and non-canon official materials. Their particular “tone” and the formality or informality in their choice of words are accurate, and very enjoyable.
Kyo going from addressing Iori as “temee” and then to “omae” will never get old.
At the beginning, the extremely light plot was difficult to digest. Repeatedly, the KOF characters found themselves utterly defenseless against an enemy, just to give the protagonist the chance to be their savior. However, when these scenes were over, looking for significant dialogues between the boys was a lot of fun.
I’ll summarize the routes in the future. I’d love to go into more detail about the IorixKyo and GeesexBilly fanservice lovingly crafted into this game ^^♥.
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