Karnov's Revenge Review - Screenshot 1 of 3

Hamster has done a good job of providing a variety of genres with its ACA Neo Geo series, but SNK's machine had a lot of one-on-one brawlers and consequently Switch owners are not exactly short of options when browsing the eShop. Here's another one, this time from the Fighter's History series. Interestingly, SNES owners will soon have a chance to replay the third game and a port of the first on an upcoming compilation cart, but for now Switch fans can play the second entry (the only one on Neo Geo Hardware), Karnov's Revenge (AKA: Fighter's History Dynamite).

The game gives you a choice of thirteen fighters and features the usual best-of-three rounds mechanic as you work through the opposition en route to the ending. There's a "weak point" system, but otherwise nothing to make it stand out from other fighters of the time, often coming across as "like Street Fighter II, but not as good". Indeed, back in the day Capcom found the first Fighter's History a bit too similar and took developer Data East to court (unsuccessfully, it should be noted).

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There are similarities here too, with the announcer, HUD elements and other screens having a similar style to the Capcom game. Actually playing the Data East's effort also results in a little déjà vu, as while there's no out-and-out clones, moves much like Sonic Booms, Flash-kicks and Hundred Hand Slaps feature throughout, with the titular Karnov calling out "fire" with his fire breath attack. Of course, a number of games from this period feature similar special moves (and this one does at least have some unique attacks) but even a few of the regular, non-special moves seem to have been blatantly copied from Street Fighter, including some Zangief-style grapples and a Blanka-like slide. There are less options available however, as there are only two strengths of punch/kick rather than three.

Despite these similarities, the brawling is not as fluid, moves don't flow together well and fights become a series of odd taps here and there, although the weak point system adds a little bit of strategy. Each character has a spot where they're especially vulnerable to attacks and should hits be repeatedly landed the character gets stunned, leaving them open to further attack. Weak points are certain items of clothing (such as a headband) which flash the more they are hit, but some are easier to get than others; they are often struck without really trying.

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Other games may provide better fighting, but the rounds are not devoid of entertainment and you can still have fun from turning a bout around with a well-timed special move. There's some replayability in trying to clear the game with each character to get the different endings and should you get really good then there's a bonus fight against an Ox for you. The usual adjustable difficulty (8 settings) is present in the options menu if you'd like a tougher/easier path through the game, and a second player can join in at any time to challenge you to a fight.

The usual ACA Hi Score and Caravan modes are here giving you one credit/five minutes to rack up as many points as possible to try and move up the online leaderboards. Like most fighters these modes aren't as appealing as in other genres (like shmups), but do provide you with some alternative ways to play.


Karnov's Revenge can provide some entertainment, but attacks don't flow together with ease, sometimes making button mashing more effective (and quicker) than a well-timed series of planned moves. The weak point system can add a bit of strategy as you target certain spots on an opponent, but with some characters more susceptible to attacks than others it's not a system that works that well or is particularly balanced. Ultimately, more accomplished fighters are available on the Neo Geo (any entry from Fatal Fury, Samurai Shodown or King of Fighters series will do), and a number of these can be downloaded on Switch. Pick one of those over this rather limp and uninspired title.