A lot has been said about King of Fighters, it consistently stands the test of time by digging up new characters and resurrecting old ones. The graphics have never changed much, but the game always seems to get better. King of Fighters R-1 is the gangs first portable outing. And while it isn't the game King of Fighters R-2 would prove to be, it is a competent brawler for the time.
Many of the characters from King of Fighters 97 appear in this little black and white fighter. And while they may not look the same, they do have many of their moves, and strangely enough, the characters actually seem to control like their arcade brothers. King of Fighters R-1 does represent a turning point for fighting games, it is not only a great fighting game (something rare in the handheld market) but it is also the first "team" fighting game on a hand held.
I've never been a big fan of King of Fighters use of teams ... I felt that it slowed the pace of the game down, and perhaps even makes me look to other fighters before seeking its comforts. You pick three characters, and then fighter the computer (or a friends) three characters. The problem is that instead of two or three rounds, the game turns into three or five rounds. Thankfully SNK was nice enough to give us the option to play either a single game, or a team game.
The game has a few tricks up its sleeves, too. It features an amazing amount of variety in fighters and moves, and I was blown away by it's use of visuals in the background. Sure they are limited (and black and white), but they are also used in ways the Game Boy could never dream of.
The game isn't really worth picking up with you own the second King of Fighters R. The color version does mend a few problems apparent early on in this game. Many of the control issues were cleared up, and there are several other characters. But if you are looking to prove your friends wrong when they say there has never been a good black and white fighting game, this is one to seriously consider.