Re(?)Considered: King of Fighters Maximum Impact 2
It all began in '94, was all-but ignored in 2006
Adapting a renowned 2D fighting game into 3D can't be easy. For one thing, all the fans of the game's 2D incarnation will piss and moan at you for ages, like whyyyy are you doing a polygon man instead of a dots man. That sort of thing, really. It's easy to see why mentioning King of Fighters: Maximum Impact 2 around SNK afficionados may result in an upturned nose and a barked instruction to "swivel".
They're probably right, to be honest. Speaking purely in terms of the game's mechanics, for all I know it's rubbish. I love SNK and their fighters - especially King of Fighters - but I could never really call myself an expert or anything. As with almost all fighting games, I just love the style and feel of them, with no real interest in playing online or raising my game in particular outside of the most basic "learn the special move commands" stuff. I'm basic. I just like the characters. My sweet boy, Iori. Basically, I'm not one to tell you about framedata, or roman cancels, or quint-reversed kicksteps. I'm not even sure if I made one of those up. I'm here because I like King of Fighters.
And it's fun! Maybe if I knew more about how to play fighting games, I wouldn't like Maximum Impact 2. What a horrible world that would be. Ignorance is bliss. But knowledge of SNK themselves does come in handy where diggin' the game is concerned, because it's absolutely loaded with SNK fanservice. I don't mean the Mai flashing her backchops kind of fanservice, though they are present. I'm talking about a stacked deck of alternate costumes, the majority of which reference other titles like Samurai Shodown or Last Blade, with a generous sprinkling of presumably unauthorised "cosplay" - characters as diverse as Sol Badguy, Heihachi, Lum, Black Jack, Jason Voorhees and Kamen Rider get extralegal shout-outs.
Many of said costumes are unlocked by playing the rather excellent Challenge mode, which has you taking on missions such as kicking the absolute arse off a car, then defeating the eponymous Metal Slug tank in hand-to-hand combat. Progressing gradually unlocks alternate "colours" for your character, many of which are simply the aforementioned extra costumes. It's extremely rewarding when your bonus content is as niche as this, given how few people will play Maximum Impact 2 who aren't already SNK die-hards. As well as the unlockable costumes, there are also plenty of extra playable characters to find - B. Jenet from Mark of the Wolves, come on down! - for a not-too-shabby total of 38 fighters.
I feel like a bit of a fraud talking about fighting games sometimes. I don't play online, as I've said, and I'm not part of the "community", such as it is. They're fun because they have big characters doing powerful moves. Sometimes their fists cause explosions, and that's top drawer entertainment. Maximum Impact 2 is probably not a good fighting game, but it has so much content and there's such love for and from SNK poured into it, that it worked for me wonderfully when I was a burgeoning Neo Geo fanatic.
The game is still available on the Japanese PSN for PS3, and I recommend making a Japanese account and seeing if you like it.