You know, you wouldn't think that the King of Fighters series would look or play well on a portable system. But not only does King of Fighters R-2 put on a decent graphical display, but it manages to capture enough of its Neo Geo counterparts' gameplay to be really quite fun.
The game's got a few different modes, including the standard three-on-three team battle and one-on-one fights for one or two players, but the real draw here is the game's "making" mode, where you'll pick a character and travel through an alternate storyline. The mode is slightly reminiscent of the Dreamcast version of Soul Calibur's mission battle mode, in that you'll occasionally have to win under altered conditions, such as no blocking, no super meter, or limited time. As you progress through the story, you earn special items that can be equipped on your character to do things like make him immune to normal attacks, dodge throws easier, or even come back to life after being defeated. Some of these items gain experience when equipped. Finally, you can link your KOF R-2 cart up to the Dreamcast version of King of Fighters '98 (which is inexplicably called King of Fighters Dream Match 1999) and trade points back and forth to unlock art galleries on the Dreamcast game and extra skills for your making mode fighter on the portable.
While the game doesn't have as many characters as its big brothers, most of the popular characters are represented, including Terry, Ryo, Kyo, Mai, Iori, and Shingo. Personally, I would have liked to have seen Heavy D! and Andy included in the lineup, but there's enough characters here to make this oversight all but disappear.
KOF R-2 makes a good on-the-go fighter, and the making mode adds enough depth to make it more worthwhile than most of the other fighters on the system. Definitely one of the must-own Neo Geo Pocket Color titles.