In case you haven’t noticed, there’s nowhere on an iPhone to plug in an arcade-style fighting stick. That means we’re stuck with touch controls that try to replicate arcade setups, which is about as easy as playing handball while wearing oven mitts.

Credit SNK Playmore for figuring out how to smack some mean three-wall crotch serves with its kitchen mittens.

The King of Fighters 2012 did the impossible, sometimes making us forget we were finagling moves with touch-screen taps. One of the most intuitive fighters we’ve seen on a mobile platform, the game nails the interface. Wide, responsive contact areas on the controls make you feel as though you’re moving and striking with precision rather than shiatsu-massaging your touchscreen until your opponent dies of boredom.

It can be tough to find players online in any mobile fighter, but this game at least gives you some options to cast a wide net. Bluetooth multiplayer and online matches over Game Center lets you slug it out in a number of different categories, including friendly matches and ranked throwdowns.

Customizable characters don’t bleed you dry for alternate outfits, and nearly all the characters are unlocked off the bat. The lack of pushy microstransactions is a breath of fresh air.

In the console and arcade worlds, The King of Fighters series seems to have been named ironically. In the mobile realm, it couldn’t be more accurate.

RATING: 8.5/10

The King of Fighters 2012 ($6.99), available on iOS platforms, was published by SNK Playmore, which provided a code for our review. We played the game for two hours on an iPod Touch.