Let’s just say that once you play it, you’ll feel cheated playing CFE afterward.
I’m sure by now everyone’s read about the password system. As you fight, you collect coins to build experience, which in turn grants you more moves and heightened resistance to differing elements; something you probably wouldn’t care about anyway. The higher your level, the harder the game gets. At least from a beginner’s perspective. The bosses just get an increased health maximum, so you should take advantage of the AI pattern as best you could. You’ll need every ounce of health to fight the end bosses, and that makes a huge difference.
As time goes on in a match, treasure chests appear that unveil food or Mystic Orbs. The orbs are your primary source for supers; you don’t build meter.
There are six orbs in all: fire, ice, lightning, wind, meteor, poison. So aside from the charcater-specific supers, you get elemental supers, the most dependable IMO bring lightning and wind.
I happen to like Tessa the most because of her style, Mai Ling second because of her somewhat unique fighting style and cute design, then Kenji and Leo.
In terms of playability, I say it’s a tie between Tessa and Kenji for the best choices, but I still like Tessa better. Because once she’s maxed at Lv.32, she can destroy bosses with comparitively less effort than the other characters. Her zoning abilities aren’t quite as good as Kenji’s, but she’s got above average normal attacks and her air fireball’s a good-pressuring tool when Tiger Knee’ed. Any boss that tries to jump will get hit by it. At Lv.32, she gains an unblockable spell. It’s limited in range, but if you catch someone with it, they get hexed by a series of floating cat baloons. When the countdown finishes, the baloons explode one by one, causing massive damage to anyone who isn’t grounded. This, coupled with the Jamming Ghost spell that forces enemies to block periodically, and leave themselves open for throws, makes Tessa a strong competitor for survival.
Kenji’s main strength is his reach. But in addition, he earns a move where he blows a long gust of wind that leaves you in stun. His fire column is a special move in this game. Because of it’s long startup, it can’t be comboed after his standing forward like it can in CFE. I don’t use this often, but because of this, Kenji can finish bonus stages a lot quicker, buying him more time and more experience. Not getting to combo into it isn’t a big loss though; he has another variation of his Kunai super in which the daggers home in on you, which of course can be comboed after the satnding forward. The running chest punch/heart rip is a special here too. It’s not very safe, but it does decent damage, and it’s great to use after a ground Kunai super.
Mai Ling is a bit tough because of her limited reach, but I love her moves: a fireball, a dragon punch in the form of a rising Spinning Bird Kick, an air dash with hit properties, a command grab that turns into an air combo, a running grab in which she climbs on you and blasts you in the face with a ball of chi, and a dive kick that’s just like Adon’s Jaguar Tooth.
The only thing Leo has going for him is the strength. You’re better off playing someone else.
I don’t have much to say for all the aesthetics except, the sprites in this game are the finest to DATE. Screw all the GG-loving naysayers. Plus, I love the fact you can finish bosses off by splitting them in two, from right to left or top to bottom, as well as rip their hearts out. And the announcer is unsurpassed too. Think Shao Khan saying these quotes.
“No Mercy… Attack!”
“Kenji is victorious”
It really is a pity. I think if this game had, say, another four or six playable characters, it could’ve been huge. Giving us Hauzer and Hydron in CFE didn’t help really.