SNK owns and makes a lot of fighting games, but The King of Fighters has been the most important one in the history of the company.
It is one of the best-known and longest-running franchises, and its influence on the gaming industry is far-reaching.
It isn’t talked about as much as it used to be because there isn’t much new content and Street Fighter and Tekken are strong competitors.
But in the ten years after it came out in 1994, it was one of the most played games in arcades and tournaments for fighting games.
With its well-known team-based balancing system and consistent gameplay over the years, the series has gained a large group of dedicated and passionate fans who still play and talk about it online.
Join me as I look back at over 25 years of King of Fighters to see what has worked, what hasn’t, and what we hope will shape the future of one of the most famous gaming franchises.
The King of Fighters All-Star (2018)
KoF All-Star is a mobile game for Android and iOS that lets players make their own fighters, put together teams with famous characters, and fight hordes of bad guys in a side-scrolling beat ’em up style.
Even though the gameplay isn’t necessarily bad, especially since KoF started out as a beat-em-up, the game feels soulless.
It’s just a way to get money, just like so many other “gacha games” with big names on them.
The King of Fighters: Sky Stage (2010)
Sky Stage is a top-down bullet hell shooter game like the influential Japanese game Touhou or the old arcade game Raiden. It is one of the most unique KoF games ever made.
The player takes control of one of the series’ most famous characters, like Kyo Kusanagi or Mai Shiranui, and shoots energy bullets at enemies while dodging beams and other attacks.
The game is stupid and doesn’t belong on the KoF roster at all.
But it can be fun, and I’m sure it got a lot of people interested in bullet hell games.
The King of Fighters 2001
When there were new versions of KoF every year, 2001’s was one of the least interesting ones in terms of how the series changed.
It was made by Eolith for arcades and then later came out for the PS2 and other systems.
The gameplay was mostly the same as the last game, but the team system was changed so that players could choose which of the four characters in each squad was a fighter and which was just a striker.
It may not have been a groundbreaking game, but the graphics were much better. And since it was the first game in the series after SNK had gone bankrupt a year before, we should probably be glad the series kept going at all.
The King of Fighters ‘97
KoF ’97 is available for the Neo Geo CD and in arcades all over the world. It must be one of the most played games in the series, which has helped it grow a lot.
Not only did it have new graphics and a better special move system, but it also added the New Faces team, which replaced the rather boring USA Sports team from KoF 94′.
Some well-known characters were also added, like Orochi Iori and Orochi Leona, who are evil and wild versions of their normal selves.
The King of Fighters ‘96
Even though ’97 was a good game, it was also a bit unfocused and full of experiments. This was likely because SNK went bankrupt and Eolith took over.
Many hard-core fighting game fans like it because it is the King of Fighters with the fastest combos and overall playstyle, just like Super Smash Bros. Melee is in its own series.
The roster has grown a lot since the last game came out. It now has 30 characters, including Kasumi Todoh, Leona Heidern, and many other famous characters who are still important today.
The King of Fighters 2003
KoF 2003 is a great game because it has a Tag-Team battle system, similar to the one used in Marvel vs. Capcom games, which makes it stand out.
Many fans said that this made the series a little less unique, but it was still well-liked by most people.
The Leader Super Special Move for the party leader and the overall quality of the sprites for each of the 37 playable fighters were two other changes that made this game stand out.
The King of Fighters XI (2006)
The first KoF game to use the new numbering system was KoF XI. It was only available in arcades at first, but a year later, it came out for the PS2.
This version had a new soundtrack, more stages, and more characters, including fan favourite Mai Shiranui.
The game is like a better version of KoF 2003. It has a better combo system and lets you switch characters in the middle of a combo to keep going.
The King of Fighters XII (2009)
When KoF XII came out on the PS3 a few years later, it was a big change for the series because it completely got rid of the classic sprite style that had been used since 1996.
This was changed to make way for new graphics that are a mix of 2D and 3D and look great.
This effect is made possible by using sprites with a lot of detail and using light and shadows in a way that looks like 3D.
The result is, in a word, an art piece. If you have the time, you should play through it again to see how much has changed.
The King of Fighters ‘99
But new doesn’t always mean better, and KoF XII isn’t even close to being the best game in the series.
KoF ’99 is a good example of this because it added Striker Matches, which let a fourth member of a team join a 3-on-3 fight and use one of their special moves at certain points during the fight. This changed the series for good and made it so that it would never be the same again.
The King of Fighters 2002
The King of Fighters 2002: Challenge to Ultimate Battle, also known as KOF 2002 or KOF 2002UM, came out in 2002 for arcades. It had 13 teams and 39 characters, which was the most of any game at the time. With the Steam and PlayStation re-releases, there are now 54 playable characters.
Again, the game changes to keep things interesting for both new and old players. Based on where they are, teams can fill up their power gauges. For instance, the first member of a team can store up to three power gauges, while the third member can store up to five.
Each power gauge could be used to do an evasion move, counterattack, or max mode. This let players do a stronger special move or cancel their input into another attack, making the combo last longer. Roll-back net-code was added to the game not long ago. The King of Fighters community thinks it is one of the more complete and pretty King of Fighters games on the market