Let's start this by saying that I am not what one would call hardcore when it comes to fighting games. I do, however, live with someone who is. His constant litany of advantages, combos, and, good lord, frame counting, makes me cringe at times. This does not prevent me from enjoying a decent fighter now and again, and though I may not know how to execute a 100%-damage combo (it can be done in some recent titles, trust me), I do know how to enjoy a game.
Battle Coliseum is an old-fashioned 2D fighter that pits two teams of two fighters each against each other. The combatants have been chosen from a bevy of past NeoGeo titles, ranging from Samurai Showdown to Metal Slug to, of course, King of Fighters. There's actually a story somewhere in the title; the instruction book and the back of the box describes some sort of evil person that wants to become the king of the NeoGeo world, and is the head of the evil Warez corporation to boot. Anyway, the story could've been about aliens invading the moon for all the effect it has on the game.
There are few modes of gameplay for your tag team to battle through, but the game feels pretty sparse, and you'll understand why in just a moment. To begin with, you've got the Arcade Mode, which is a simple brawl through a series of opponents and a boss, and you've got a Tag Mode, which is, well, exactly the same thing. The main difference between these two is that in Arcade Mode, if one character dies, the team loses, while in Tag Mode, both characters must be defeated for the other pair to win.
The other modes are the Survival Challenge, in which you face a number of enemies until you fall, as well as a versus mode against a friend, and a practice mode where you can hone your combo-ing skills. There's not a whole lot of variety in the modes, and in general it feels pretty sparse.
The gameplay mechanics themselves are well done, with tight controls and responsive attacks. It plays as a typical 2D fighter, with your special moves, super special moves, and uber-super-duper special moves (okay I made that last one up). There are also moves that have both characters on a team attack at once. These devastating attacks inflict a lot of damage when they connect, but aren't always available to use.
The graphics might be an issue for some: the sprites for each of the characters are the originals, and therefore some of them look pretty aged, with a few animations suffering as well. The backgrounds look pretty good, but there were a couple occasions where the system slowed down as the gameplay intensified on certain maps. Now, I'm no fighting pro, but I can imagine seeing a lot of annoyed faces when this happens during an important match.
And that's it, really. There's not too much to the game besides the few modes, and though the character selection screen is certainly filled with choices, it'll still be quite obvious that you're playing in the same modes over and over again. Still, fighting-game aficionados can probably look beyond this, as the fighting mechanics themselves are still pretty good and that's really the most important part of a fighting title. Heck, I know that much, even if I can't count the individual frames in Mai's, um, detailed animations.