Take the mechanics of a classic, 2D fighting game, put them on the backgrounds of a 3D game, and you've got the best of both proverbial worlds, right? Not if The King of Fighters Neowave is any indication.
A faithful yet expanded translation of the arcade game of the same name, Neowave exists because of a hardware shift. SNK Playmore changed the technology behind its KOF fighting series in the arcade, so to ring in the new hardware, parts of the traditional, 2D King of Fighters 2002 were grafted onto fancy 3D backgrounds that the new chips 'n' bits supplied. The problem is evident with one glance: stages like lush, animated gardens and swanky penthouse offices awkwardly play host to chunky, jagged 2D fighters. Colors aren't blended well on the character models, which just adds to the low-res look. And even the animated 3D stages aren't all that; they're not distracting, but not terribly impressive as pure set dressing, either.
The arcade technology demo that is Neowave gets a boost from nitpicky customizable elements (repaint your fighter's outfit, if you like) and a few gameplay additions such as Heat Mode (extra damage on command, but at the expense of your health bar). There's also an online tournament mode that supports 128 players. If you have 127 friends who also hunger for 2D fighters trapped in a 3D world, perhaps you can all play Neowave together. You won't have to worry about the rest of us interfering.