The King of Fighters

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The King of Fighters
The King of Fighters logo.png
Genre(s) Fighting
Developer(s) SNK
Eolith
BrezzaSoft
Noise Factory
Publisher(s) SNK
Ignition Entertainment
Atlus USA
Rising Star Games
Deep Silver
Koch Media
Creator(s)Masanori Kuwasashi
Platform(s) Arcade, Neo Geo, Neo Geo CD, Neo Geo Pocket, Neo Geo Pocket Color, Sega Saturn, Dreamcast, PlayStation, PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation Network, Game Boy, J2ME, Symbian, Game Boy Advance, Wii, Nintendo Switch, Virtual Console, iOS, Android, Microsoft Windows, Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
First release The King of Fighters '94
August 25, 1994
Latest release The King of Fighters XV
February 17, 2022

The King of Fighters (KOF) [lower-alpha 1] is a series of fighting games by SNK that began with the release of The King of Fighters '94 in 1994. The series was developed originally for SNK's Neo Geo MVS arcade hardware. This served as the main platform for the series until 2004 when SNK retired it in favor of the Atomiswave arcade board. Two King of Fighters games were produced for the Atomiswave platform ( The King of Fighters Neowave and The King of Fighters XI ) before SNK decided to discontinue using it for the series. The series' most recent arcade hardware is the Taito Type X2, first used with the release of The King of Fighters XII . Ports of the arcade games and the original The King of Fighters games have been released for several video game consoles. The latest entry in the series, The King of Fighters XV , was released in February 2022.

Contents

The games' story focuses on the title tournament where fighters from multiple SNK games take part. SNK also created original characters to serve as protagonists from each of their story arcs while still interacting with fighters from Art of Fighting and Fatal Fury , among others. Multiple spin-off games, such as the R duology for the Neo Geo Pocket and Maximum Impact for the PlayStation 2, for example, have also been released. There have been multiple cross-over games where the SNK cast interacted with characters created by Capcom, while some characters have been present as guest characters in other games, such as Geese Howard in Tekken 7 , Kyo Kusanagi in Fighting Days , and Terry Bogard in Fighting EX Layer and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate .

The King of Fighters was originally conceptualized as a side-scrolling beat 'em up until SNK changed it to a fighting game that took its subtitle from the first Fatal Fury game: Fatal Fury: King of Fighters . Though originally released yearly from its first inception, the company decided to take more time to develop their games after 2004. Critical reception of the video games have been generally positive with their use of teams and balanced gameplay often cited.

Games

Main series

Arcade cabinet for KOF '98 KOF-98 arcade cabinet.jpg
Arcade cabinet for KOF '98
Release timeline
1994 The King of Fighters '94
1995 The King of Fighters '95
1996 The King of Fighters '96
1997 The King of Fighters '97
1998 The King of Fighters '98
King of Fighters R-1
1999 The King of Fighters '99
King of Fighters R-2
2000 The King of Fighters 2000
2001 The King of Fighters 2001
2002 The King of Fighters 2002
2003 The King of Fighters 2003
2004 The King of Fighters: Maximum Impact
The King of Fighters '94 Re-Bout
The King of Fighters Neowave
2005 The King of Fighters XI
2006 The King of Fighters: Maximum Impact 2
2007 The King of Fighters: Maximum Impact Regulation-A
2008 The King of Fighters '98 Ultimate Match
2009 The King of Fighters XII
The King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match
2010 The King of Fighters XIII
2011–2015
2016 The King of Fighters XIV
2017–2021
2022 The King of Fighters XV

SNK released the first game in the series, The King of Fighters '94 , on August 25, 1994. [1] It featured characters from SNK's previous fighting game series Fatal Fury and Art of Fighting , as well as original characters (including characters from other franchises such as Ikari Warriors and Psycho Soldier , adapted for a versus fighting game).

The game's success led SNK to release yearly installments for the series numbering the games for the year they were released. The King of Fighters '95 , as well as adding new characters, began the series' first story arc titled "The Orochi Saga". It was also the first game in the series that allowed players to create their own three-member teams with any character in the game. [2] The King of Fighters '96 established the second part of "The Orochi Saga". Depending on the playable characters on a team, an exclusive ending would be played. [3] "The Orochi Saga" story arc concluded in The King of Fighters '97 . [4] Unlike the series' previous games, The King of Fighters '98 did not feature a story. Instead, it was promoted as a "Dream Match" game that allowed players to choose most of the characters available from the previous titles, including ones that were supposedly dead. SNK refitted the Dreamcast version and renamed it The King of Fighters: Dream Match 1999 with an extended cel animated introduction and 3D backgrounds. [5]

The King of Fighters '99 introduced "The NESTS Chronicles" story arc. In a new tactic, a specific person from a team would be an assistant called a "Striker". This person would be able to aid the team for a few seconds in combat. The Dreamcast version was titled The King of Fighters: Evolution, with several improvements in the game such as new Strikers and better animation. [6] The King of Fighters 2000 is the second part of "The NESTS Saga" as well as the last KOF game produced by SNK before its bankruptcy. It adds a few new playable characters and a couple of Strikers—most from earlier KOF titles and other SNK franchises such as Metal Slug , Robo Army , Burning Fight , Buriki One , The Last Blade , Savage Reign and Kizuna Encounter . [7] The King of Fighters 2001 ends the second story arc. The Korean company Eolith helped develop the game after SNK was declared bankrupt. [8] The King of Fighters 2002 was created to reunite old characters from previous KOF games and featured no story, similar to KOF '98. It was also developed by Eolith. [9]

A new KOF story arc titled the "Tales of Ash" began in The King of Fighters 2003 , the last KOF game to be released for the Neo Geo system. It allowed players to change characters while playing, but the number of team members was reduced to three. SNK returned to develop the franchise with this entry. [10] By 2004, SNK abandoned the series' yearly releases and numbered future games in a more conventional manner. [11] The first main series' game released as such was The King of Fighters XI in 2005. [12] In 2009, The King of Fighters XII was released. It used high-resolution, hand-drawn 2D sprites on detailed 2D backgrounds. [13] It is a storyless gathering of fighters, similar to KOF '98 and 2002. The story arc ends with The King of Fighters XIII , released during the summer of 2010, which features the entire roster from The King of Fighters XII as well as additional characters. [14]

The King of Fighters XIV , featuring 3D graphics and a large roster of characters while also establishing a new story arc was released for the PlayStation 4 on August 23, 2016. [15] In December 2018, SNK revealed it was working on The King of Fighters XV , and was released on February 17, 2022. [16]

Other games

The King of Fighters '94 was remade and released in 2004 for the PlayStation 2 as The King of Fighters '94 Re-Bout in Japan. This version has several new features like hi-res graphics, online play, team edit, a playable Rugal Bernstein, and the addition of Saisyu Kusanagi. [17] A remake of KOF '98 titled The King of Fighters '98 Ultimate Match was released in Japanese arcades in 2008 and later on some video game consoles expanding the character roster and improving the graphics. [18] A remake of KOF 2002, titled The King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match was released for the PlayStation 2 in 2009 in Japan. SNK also produced a game titled The King of Fighters: Battle de Paradise which could be connected to the Japanese Dreamcast port of KOF '99. [19] Yumekobo also developed the visual novel game with strategy elements for fights known as The King of Fighters: Kyo (ザ・キング・オブ・ファイターズ 京). The game follows Kyo's daily life as he prepares to fight in the tournament in KOF '97 while interacting with other rivals. [20] For the Neo Geo Pocket, an adaptation of KOF '97 titled King of Fighters R-1 was released on October 28, 1998. [21] A sequel for the Neo Geo Pocket Color, King of Fighters R-2 an adaptation of KOF '98, was released on March 19, 1999. [22]

In 2004, SNK produced the first 3D installment of the series, The King of Fighters: Maximum Impact . [23] The game and its sequel KOF: Maximum Impact 2 , and its upgraded version Maximum Impact: Regulation A, revises much of the backstory for the characters and settings from previous games. [24] A third update called Regulation A2 was planned but cancelled. The producer of the Maximum Impact series, Falcoon, stated that the Maximum Impact games are in a different continuity from the original series of games. [25] Another spin-off video game, The King of Fighters Neowave , was released for the Xbox, PlayStation 2 and Arcade during 2005 and 2006. Neowave is essentially a remix of KOF 2002, with a new presentation and a few roster changes. Like KOF2002, Neowave has no storyline and is considered a "dream match". Tomokazu Nakano created the character artwork. [26] Two video games were released for the Game Boy Advance titled The King of Fighters EX: Neo-Blood and The King of Fighters EX2: Howling Blood featuring characters and backgrounds from KOF '99 and 2000, respectively. [27] [28] A role-playing video game was also created exclusively for the PlayStation under the title The King of Fighters: Kyo, adapting a manga with the same name. [29] An N-Gage version of the second Game Boy Advance game was released in 2005 titled The King of Fighters Extreme, which added Bluetooth multiplayer capability.

By late 2000s, at least three pachislot games were developed for the series. The first, The King of Fighters, is based on the Orochi storyline; the second, The King of Fighters 2, is based on the fight of K' against the NESTS cartel; [30] [31] and the third, Maximum Impact focuses on the series' 3D titles. None of these was released outside Japan. [32] At least six games for Japanese mobile phones have also been developed. While a few of them are fighting games, others are mini-games like volleyball and quizzes. [33]

Several characters from the series also appear in crossover video games. NeoGeo Battle Coliseum is a 2-on-2 tag team fighting game for the Atomiswave arcade board, and SNK Gals' Fighters is a fighting game for the Neo Geo Pocket Color. Along with the KOF, characters from other SNK series also star in both of these games. [34] A rhythm game titled The Rhythm of Fighters was released for mobile phone games during 2015. [35] Capcom also produced a series of similar crossover fighting games with SNK. The SNK-produced fighting games of this crossover include the Dimps-developed portable fighting game SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium for the Neo Geo Pocket Color in 1999 and SNK vs. Capcom: SVC Chaos for the Neo Geo in 2003. The games produced by Capcom are Capcom vs. SNK in 2000. This was followed by a minor upgrade, Capcom vs. SNK Pro, and a sequel titled Capcom vs. SNK 2 , both released in 2001. [36] The three games were produced for NAOMI hardware and later ported to various consoles. SNK also produced SNK vs. Capcom: SVC Chaos, [37] and the video game card game titled SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighters DS. [38]

Multiple mobile phone games have also been produced including The King of Fighters All Star , [39] Kimi wa Hero, [40] Clash of Kings, [41] KOF X Arena Masters, [42] KOF: WORLD, [43] The King of Fighters Orochi Go, The King of Cyphers, [44] [45] and a crossover with Fatal Fury. [46] An otome game King of Fighters for Girls is also in development. [47] The characters have also been guests in other mobile games such as Kyo in Fighting Days. [48]

Compilations

In addition to the remakes of games such as KOF '94 Re-bout, KOF '98 Ultimate Match, and KOF 2002 Unlimited Match, SNK has released compilations of their KOF games. Two KOF compilations were released in Japan for the PlayStation 2 as part of the Neo Geo Online Collection.

The first compilation, The King of Fighters Orochi Hen (ザ·キング·オブ·ファイターズ -オロチ編-, The Orochi Saga) features KOF '95, KOF '96, and KOF '97, the three games comprising the Orochi story arc. The compilation features a Color Edit mode that allows the player to create a custom color palette for every character in each game, the choice to play each game with original and arranged soundtracks, and an online versus mode which supports the Multi-Matching BB (MMBB) service. [49] The second compilation, The King of Fighters NESTS Hen (ザ·キング·オブ·ファイターズ -ネスツ編-, The NESTS Saga), features the original Neo Geo versions of KOF '99, KOF 2000, and KOF 2001, as well as the corresponding Dreamcast versions of each game. It has the same features as the previous compilation but with online support available only for the Dreamcast games in the compilation. [50]

A separately produced compilation titled The King of Fighters Collection: The Orochi Saga was released for the PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable and Wii outside of Japan. This compilation has the same lineup of games as the Japanese Orochi Hen, along with KOF '94 and KOF '98. The extra features are different. There is an added Challenge Mode where the player must win certain matches against the CPU in KOF '98 under specific conditions, a media gallery featuring listenable tracks from each game, and a collection of official illustrations. [49]

There were also two double-pack compilations, the first being The King of Fighters 2000/2001 (The King of Fighters: The Saga Continues in PAL regions) [51] and The King of Fighters 2002/2003, both on PlayStation 2 and Xbox. [52]

Gameplay elements

A fight between Kyo (an original character) and Kim (Fatal Fury). In the background are Kyo's two teammates (Benimaru and Daimon) who can replace him if he is defeated. Gameplay of The King of Fighters '94.png
A fight between Kyo (an original character) and Kim (Fatal Fury). In the background are Kyo's two teammates (Benimaru and Daimon) who can replace him if he is defeated.

The basic gameplay system of KOF is similar to SNK's previous games like the Fatal Fury series, Art of Fighting and Samurai Shodown. The game uses a four attack button configuration like Fatal Fury 2 and Fatal Fury Special , that consists of light punch, light kick, strong punch and strong kick. Like Fatal Fury 2, specialized techniques are performed by pressing buttons in combination, allowing the player to dodge an opponent's attack or to launch a character's powerful knockdown attack. As with most other fighting games, each character has a set of basic, unique, and special moves the player can perform using a specific series of joystick and button inputs. [53] Each new installment provides new ways to create stronger attacks such as The King of Fighters '97. Instead of charging the Power Gauge it is now filled when the player strikes the opponent or by performing Special Moves. The player can stock up to three Power Gauges. The player can use one stock of the Power Gauge to perform a Super Special Move or enter a "MAX" mode, in which the player's defensive and offensive strength are increased. Performing a Super Special Move while in MAX mode allows the player to perform a more powerful Super Special Move. [54]

The franchise is known for innovating the fighting genre by replacing a traditional round-based format used in preceding fighting games with a format consisting of 3-on-3 team-based matches dubbed the Team Battle System. Instead of choosing a single character, the player selects from one of eight available teams, each consisting of three members. Before each match, the players choose the order in which their team members enter the battle. When the match begins, the members chosen to go first on their respective teams will fight. When one character is defeated, the next member of the same team will take his or her place, while the character on the other team will have a small portion of their life restored (if energy was lost during the previous round). If a character is losing a match against the opponent, then the player can call one of the remaining teammates standing on the sidelines to jump in and perform a support attack. The match ends when all three members of either team lose. [55]

Three games—The King of Fighters '99, 2000, and 2001—added the idea of each team being given an extra character that can assist the player to produce more attacks or combos against the enemy. [56] While 2002 brought back the classic 3-o- 3 teams, 2003 and XI made the change so that each team switches fighters in the middle of combat with one of them being a "Leader" character who can perform stronger techniques. [57] Later games, however, returned to the classic way of fighting while still delivering different ways and rules of fighting.

Plot and characters

The King of Fighters employs different original characters as leads featuring (from left to right) K', Ash Crimson, Shun'ei and Kyo Kusanagi. KOFprotagonists.png
The King of Fighters employs different original characters as leads featuring (from left to right) K', Ash Crimson, Shun'ei and Kyo Kusanagi.

The titular King of Fighters tournament originated from SNK's previous fighting game franchises, Fatal Fury and Art of Fighting (canonically and chronologically beginning during the events of Art of Fighting 2). The first game in the series, KOF '94, centers on a black market arms dealer named Rugal Bernstein, who hosts a well-known fighting tournament to lure worthy adversaries into his trap so that he can kill them and turn them into stone statues, adding them to his collection of defeated martial artists. In addition to previously established fighting game stars Terry Bogard and Ryo Sakazaki, the game introduces a new hero: a young Japanese martial artist named Kyo Kusanagi, who serves as the lead character in the early KOF games. In making Kyo, SNK wanted his personality to contrast with those of earlier leads and stand out within the crossover. [58]

In KOF '95, Rugal, having survived the previous tournament, hosts a new one with the intention of seeking revenge against his adversaries. KOF '95 introduced Kyo's rival Iori Yagami to the series. It was the first game to mention the presence of the Orochi clan, which would serve as the central plot element in the series' following two games. The tournaments in KOF '96 and KOF '97 are hosted by a woman named Chizuru Kagura, who seeks to recruit allies (particularly Kyo and Iori, who are descended from the Three Divine Vessels along with Kagura herself) to fight against the Orochi clan. The Orochi storyline concludes in KOF '97. [59] The next game in the series, KOF '98, is a "Special Edition" with no plot development.

KOF '99 introduces a new story arc involving a mysterious corporation known as NESTS, which seeks to create an army of genetically altered fighters. The game introduces a new lead character named K', a fugitive from NESTS who was genetically enhanced with Kyo's DNA. [60] The next two games in the series, KOF 2000 and KOF 2001, continue the NESTS story line, with each game unraveling the mystery of the organization further. KOF 2002, like KOF '98 before it, is a "Special Edition" of the series with no particular plot. Like Kyo, K' was created as a different hero. Rather than the cocky Kyo, K' is a dark hero who reluctantly fights against the NESTS syndicate. [61]

KOF 2003 begins a new story line focusing on another new lead character named Ash Crimson, a young man who seeks to possess the powers of the Three Divine Vessels for his own unknown agenda. Similar to K', Ash is given a different characterization acting as a villain during his story arc. [62] The tournaments in KOF 2003 and KOF XI were hosted by "Those From the Past", an organization of inhuman warriors who try to break the Orochi seal to take its powers so they can give them to their shrouded master. While KOF XII does not have a story, KOF XIII follows another tournament hosted by them where Ash eventually confronts their superior despite him being Ash's ancestor. [63]

KOF XIV establishes a new storyline involving a new lead character named Shun'ei. Described as a "kind-hearted" person, SNK states that while Shun'ei is not a new main character, he is still important for the saga. [64]

Development

The prototype version of the game was a River City Ransom -style TEAM-BATTLE side-scrolling beat 'em up. However, the idea was eventually abandoned. They eventually decided to turn their idea into a fighting game. This game was a team battle concept and there were not enough characters, so characters from Fatal Fury, Art of Fighting, Ikari Warriors and Psycho Soldier were also added to the roster. The concept of a three-person team was one of the ideas kept from the side-scrolling version. [65] The title The King of Fighters was re-used from the subtitle of the first Fatal Fury game, Fatal Fury: King of Fighters . [66] The King of Fighters series' director Toyohisa Tanabe asserted that the Art of Fighting and Fatal Fury fighters were added specifically for adults. The newer KOF characters were intended to appeal to younger and recent audiences. Characters like Benimaru Nikaido and Chang Koehan were added to provide an off-beat variety to the cast, which he had previously said was too serious. [67]

While the first two games used the Neo Geo MVS arcade, The King of Fighters '96 includes 68 KB of video RAM and 64 KB of RAM. This made The King of Fighters '96 the first game to break the technical limits of the MVS system. [68] SNK staff members noted that due to the great popularity of some of the series' characters, it is difficult to design new ones that might have the same appeal. This also happens during location tests of new games. [69] The artist known as Shinkiro was responsible for the first artwork involving the cast. As a result, newcomer artist Hiroaki felt for his debut that he needed to draw appealing characters, despite his inexperience. [70] For the first time, former producer Takashi Nishiyama was not on the team for The King of Fighters 2000 which caused the team some concern. [71] Despite early unease over the game's state, SNK was pleased with the outcome and described it as an appealing arcade game. Following its release, SNK thanked the fans for their support. [72] Mexican company Evoga had a major influence on the games due to the franchise's popularity within Latin America. [73]

In 2000, SNK went bankrupt. Eolith negotiated a license agreement in the same year to keep producing the KOF series because of the franchise's popularity in Korea and worldwide. BrezzaSoft assisted Eolith with the game's production. Fearing disappointing returning fans, Eolith decided to maintain most of the common parts from The King of Fighters while adding new elements to it. One of the biggest changes is the optional use of Strikers where players can use between one and three characters to assist the playable one. The team aimed to refine the original gameplay system of earlier KOF games. While conducting a popularity poll of the characters, Eolith still aimed to include the least popular teams in the game. The great popularity of Kyo Kusanagi and Iori Yagami led to their immediate inclusion in the game. [74] References to works from Evoga can be seen in the game's scenarios. While working on it, the team played The King of Fighters '98 for the developers to see if they could include a character within the game. A member from Evoga won, resulting in the team asking to add Angel to the game. [75] Starting in 2003, the games were again developed by SNK, now called SNK Playmore. [76] SNK Playmore discontinued the AES system in 2003, preferring to publish video games in cooperation with Sammy, using its Atomiswave arcade board, which provided a more secure, modern platform for new arcade releases. This allowed the new KOF games to feature better audio and graphics than earlier games. [77]

Following the release of the first game in The King of Fighters series, a new game was released each year. The last of these yearly releases was The King of Fighters 2003. In December 2004, Falcoon, the series' main illustrator, mentioned that the next game the SNK Playmore staff were trying to release was different from The King of Fighters: Maximum Impact or what could have been a The King of Fighters 2004. The game's development began when SNK staff finished making Neo Geo Battle Coliseum. [78] KOF 2003 would be followed by XI, XII and XIII which had major changes to appeal to the audience. [79] The decision to create The King of Fighters XIV was made when SNK Playmore's CEO Eikichi Kawasaki decided the company should return to producing appealing fighting games rather than Pachinko-Slot Machines and Mobile Apps. While it took some time, full production of the game began when more staff from Esaka joined the team in April 2014. [80] [81] Yasuyuki Oda was the game's director. This was his first contribution to the franchise, leading a younger staff. During his first employment at SNK, games like Virtua Fighter motivated him to make a 3D game after he had left SNK. When Oda returned to SNK, there was never any debate about transitioning the series transition from 2D to 3D, though adapting some of the characters proved more difficult than others. [82] Many of SNK's staff consider KOF '98 and KOF 2002 the best games in the franchise. They gave them ideas to create new entries in the series that would surpass the quality of these two games. [83] [84] During a contest, SNK used the DLC character Najd based on the Saudi Arabian artist Mashael. SNK Chairman Zhihui Ge expressed a desire to attract more Middle Eastern fans to play the game. He also hired new creators during the post-release of XIV. [85]

Printed adaptations

During 1995 Tatsuya Shingyoji wrote a manga adaptation of The King of Fighters '94. It was serialized in Monthly Shōnen Ace published by Kadokawa Shoten and collected into four tankōbon volumes. They were released from February 10, 1995, to December 1996. [86] [87] There is also a spin-off manga story based on the adventures of the characters from The King of Fighters '96 centered around Kyo and Iori's rivalry entitled The King of Fighters: Kyo. It was written by Masato Natsumoto and published by Kodansha in two tankōbon volumes in 1997. [88] [89] Ryo Takamisaki also developed another adaptation from KOF '96 which Shinseisha published in three tankōbon compilations from June 1996 to February 1998. [90] [91] Akihiko Ureshino also wrote multiple novelizations based on the games with different artists contributing to each installment. [92] [93] [94]

A manhua adaptation of KOF titled The King of Fighters: Zillion was created by Andy Seto. Hong Kong artists Wing Yang and King Tung produced further manhua for the games, beginning with The King of Fighters 2001 through 2003 along with the Maximum Impact series. [95] Both authors also made a sequel, The King of Fighters 03: Xenon Zero (拳皇 XENON ZERO), to conclude the 2003 tournament. [96] ComicsOne licensed the series with its first volume tying in with the release of a new video game and kept publishing it after their transition to DrMaster. [97] [98] They were published in five issues of 128 pages from May 25, 2005, to June 26, 2008. [99] [100] Another manhua series is King of Fighters RX Project '00 (拳皇RX) in three volumes that was officially sponsored by SNK-Playmore Hong Kong. The NESTS saga version was illustrated by Ricky, and covers the fight against NESTS primarily focused on the 2000 tournament. [101]

The King of Fighters: A New Beginning is a shōnen manga authored by Kyōtarō Azuma. It is based on the events of The King of Fighters XIV. The series was serialized in Kodansha's Magazine Pocket since January 2018, [102] ending in August 2020. [103] Seven Seas Entertainment licensed the manga for a North American release with the first volume released in March 2020. light novel series Iori Yagami's Isekai Mu'sou by Nobuhiko Tenkawa which debuted in July 2019. The art was done by Eisuke Ogura. Centered after the events of KOF '97, Iori finds himself into another world. [104]

Film and animation

A short series based on KOF titled The King of Fighters: Another Day was released in 2005. Production I.G produced the title as an original net animation with a total of four episodes, each about 10 minutes in length. It has since been released as a bonus DVD, packaged with KOF: Maximum Impact 2. [105] An English-language live-action film The King of Fighters was released direct-to-DVD in the United States in 2010. [106] [107] New anime and live-action drama productions were announced in 2016. [108] [109]

The CG anime series The King of Fighters: Destiny was released on Steam and YouTube beginning in 2017. [110] [111] The first season retells the story of the first games with Kyo Kusanagi leading the Japan Team to participate in the title tournament, eventually encountering the host, Rugal, who is using the power of the mythical creature Orochi. The series has received over 800 million views. [112]

CDs

SNK has released a series of CD soundtracks titled SNK Character Sounds Collection or SNK Sound Character Collection (SNKサウンドキャラクターズコレクション). As of 2008, there are 11 volumes; each one focuses on a single character. The CDs have different versions of the characters' themes, as well as quotes. Most of the albums' covers are illustrated by Masato Natsumoto. [113] The Band of Fighters, shortened as BOF, is a character image band that includes Kyo Kusanagi, Iori Yagami, Terry Bogard, Nakoruru and Athena Asamiya. [114]

Dengeki Bunko and Pony Canyon have released several radio drama CDs based on the series. Some of them are direct adaptations of the video games KOF '94 to KOF '00. Another CD is Iori Yagami Original Drama the Setting Sun and Moon ~ Prologue (八神庵オリジナルドラマ 夕陽と月〜プロローグ〜), which is centered on Iori Yagami. The drama originally aired on the Game Dra Night and Neo Chupi and was then released by Pony Canyon CD on July 7, 1999. The guidebook The King of Fighters Perfect Reader includes the bonus CD drama KOF: Mid Summer Struggle. There are two stories on it—one is serious the other is a parody focused on KOF '03. The scenarios were developed by Akihiko Ureshino and BoHyou. SNK also gave away a four-CD soundtrack featuring songs from past KOF games with the pre-order of KOF XIII on any GameStop in the United States. [115]

Other merchandise

In December 2006, Sabertooth Games released a King of Fighters 2006 set along with Samurai Shodown V for its Universal Fighting System (UFS) collectible card game; character starter packs were released for Terry Bogard and Mai Shiranui. Other merchandise includes a number of figures and statues, mostly of Mai. Additionally, scale figures based on Kyo's and Iori's original forms and their XIV looks have been released, [116] including a Nendoroid figure based on Kyo. [117]

Reception

The original The King of Fighters games were well received for their use of team battles and the number of characters. [118] [119] [120] Some games were often listed as the best fighting games from their release. [121] [122] The four reviewers of Electronic Gaming Monthly declared the Neo Geo AES version a solid improvement over the previous King of Fighters, particularly applauding the addition of the team edit feature which remained in all of the following games. [123] Critics noted they often served as rivals to Capcom's Street Fighter series based on some character designs and moves. [124] [125] While KOF '96 was felt to be unbalanced due its usage of projectile moves, its updated graphics impressed reviewers. [126] [127] SNK's constant use of 2D sprites across multiple games has been criticized by reviewers who found them dated despite attempts to improve the graphics with the release of XI. [55] [128] [129] As a result, the graphic overhaul in the two following games was met with high praise. [130] [131] [132]

While the fighting system has been well-received, critics have had mixed feelings regarding the Striker system introduced in KOF '99. [133] [134] In GameSpot 's "The History of SNK" article, KOF '99: Evolution was described as one of the best fighting games on the Dreamcast, along with Garou: Mark of the Wolves . However, because it was released during the PlayStation 2's launch and Dreamcast's ending, the game did not sell well. [135] The boss character Rugal Bernstein, among others, has been described as one of the most challenging characters to defeat in fighting games; this feeling also led to some criticism. [136] [137] [138] [139] [140]

The developers of KOF noted that Kyo and Iori were also highly popular in Korea which led to their immediate inclusion in The King of Fighters 2001, the first game not developed by the original company. [141] In the book Gaming Cultures and Place in Asia-Pacific, Kyo was regarded as one of the most popular video game characters in Hong Kong from the mid-1990s onward alongside Iori and Mai, among others, to the point of overshadowing the Street Fighter characters who were also largely well-known. [142] The Mexican company Evoga had a major influence on the game due to the franchise's popularity in Latin America and often playtested the games. [75] With KOF XIV, SNK noted the series' popularity was still dominant in South America and China, leading to the creation of teams composed of characters from those areas. [143] The popularity of the franchise in those markets has been attributed mainly to economic factors - machines featuring King of Fighters series were often cheaper and more easily accessible than those featuring competing titles from other companies. [144]

The Daily Star noted the games' popularity comes not only from the gameplay but also the characters who tend to develop across the series—for example the rivalry between Kyo and Iori. The franchise's story arcs were also found to be appealing as they stand out from other fighting game franchises. [145] Kakuchopurei.com felt the series offered a balanced cast which would help any newcomer while also agreeing with The Daily Star on how SNK handled the story lines. [146] There has also been censorship of some of the ports of the North American games, most notably Whip's gun and blood. [147] Singer Del the Funky Homosapien has recorded a song titled "The King of Fighters" whose lyrics involve the characters and special moves. [148] Ash Crimson's character received a poor response in Western regions. In an interview with Ignition Entertainment's director of business development Shane Bettehausen, Alex Lucard of Diehard GameFan said that North American SNK fans detested Ash and complained about his inclusion in The King of Fighters XII without a storyline while popular series' characters were overlooked. [149] After Ignition polled fans to choose an artbox for console versions of The King of Fighters XII. The company announced Ash's unpopularity reduced the number of potential covers to two featuring Kyo and Iori. [150]

Ben Herman, president of SNK Playmore USA, commented that although he received complaints about the English voices for the game, Maximum Impact sold over 100,000 units as of May 2006, becoming a commercial success. [151] Despite initial issues with the online mode and other features of the game The King of Fighters XIV Yasuyuki Oda said the fan response was positive especially after these issues were fixed. [152]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Terry Bogard</span> Fictional character

Terry Bogard is a video game character created by SNK as the protagonist of their Fatal Fury series. Introduced in Fatal Fury: King of Fighters in 1991, he is an American fighter who enters the worldwide "The King of Fighters" tournaments to combat his father's murderer, Geese Howard. Following Geese's defeat, Terry becomes the guardian of Geese's son Rock Howard. He is also a regular character in the crossover video game series The King of Fighters, where he continues participating in tournaments. He has also been a guest character in other games, including the Capcom vs. SNK series, Arika’s Fighting EX Layer and Nintendo's crossover fighting game Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. In addition to video games, Terry has appeared in anime films based on Fatal Fury, and manga serialized in Comic Bom Bom.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Iori Yagami</span> Fictional character

Iori Yagami is a fictional character from SNK's The King of Fighters video game series. The character first appeared in The King of Fighters '95 as the leader of the Rivals Team, as the initial enemy and later rival of Kyo Kusanagi. Iori is the heir of the Yagami clan, who use pyrokinetic powers and sealed the Orochi devil along with the Kusanagi and Yata clans. Iori suffers from a curse – "The Riot of the Blood" – under which he becomes faster, stronger and wilder, exhibiting a deadly tendency to indiscriminately attack everyone in close proximity. In this state, Iori is commonly called "Wild Iori" or "Orochi Iori". Aside from the main series, Iori appears in several other media series, including spin-offs, crossover video games and comic adaptations of the series.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kyo Kusanagi</span> Fictional character

Kyo Kusanagi is a fictional character in SNK's The King of Fighters series of fighting games. The character was first introduced in the 1994 video game The King of Fighters '94 as the leader of the Japanese team from the series' title tournament. Kyo, heir to the Kusanagi clan, is first introduced as a cocky, delinquent high-school student who has pyrokinetic powers. His clan is one of three who banished the legendary snake demon entity Yamata no Orochi. During the series' story, Kyo meets rivals and enemies who seek to take his flame abilities. Aside from the main series, Kyo appears in several crossovers and spinoffs with other games. He is also the central title character of the manga The King of Fighters: Kyo and video game adaptation with the same name which center around his daily life.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Athena Asamiya</span> Fictional character from Psycho Soldier and The King of Fighters

Athena Asamiya is a fictional character originally from the former SNK's 1987 video game Psycho Soldier. An esper, Athena is a descendant of Princess Athena from the earlier Athena game. She later appears in The King of Fighters series of fighting games as a member of the Psycho Soldier Team alongside her friend Sie Kensou and her teacher Chin Gentsai. While there have been changes to the team, Athena has been consistently playable in the main series. She was also given her own video game Athena: Awakening from the Ordinary Life, which was only released in Japanese regions for the PlayStation in 1999.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Billy Kane</span> Fictional character

Billy Kane is a video game character created by SNK. He makes first appearance in the fighting game Fatal Fury: King of Fighters as the sub-boss from the game. In the Fatal Fury series Billy is the right-hand man from Geese Howard, the crime lord from Southtown. In one of Geese's The King of Fighters tournaments, Billy and Geese are defeated by Terry Bogard and his friends, who sought revenge for the death of his father. As such, Geese starts losing control from Southtown and Billy seeks to defeat Terry. Besides the Fatal Fury series, Billy is also a recurring character from the series The King of Fighters in which he continues entering into The King of Fighters tournaments but in a team composed of three members.

<i>The King of Fighters 95</i> 1995 video game

The King of Fighters '95(KOF '95) is a fighting game produced by SNK for the Neo Geo arcade and home consoles in 1995. It is the sequel to The King of Fighters '94 and the second game in The King of Fighters series. It is also the first game in the series to be ported to other home consoles besides the Neo Geo AES and Neo-Geo CD thus making SNK a second-party developer, with versions released for the PlayStation, Sega Saturn and Game Boy. It was also rereleased in The King of Fighters Collection: The Orochi Saga in 2008 for the PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable and Wii.

<i>The King of Fighters 97</i> 1997 video game

The King of Fighters '97(KOF '97) is a fighting game produced by SNK for the Neo Geo arcade and home console in 1997. It is the fourth game in The King of Fighters series. It was ported to the Neo-Geo CD, as well as the PlayStation and the Sega Saturn in Japan only. An updated version titled Global Match featuring online multiplayer was released in 2018 for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita and Steam.

<i>The King of Fighters 98</i> 1998 video game

The King of Fighters '98: The Slugfest, known in Japan as The King of Fighters '98: Dream Match Never Ends , is a fighting game released by SNK for the Neo Geo arcade and home consoles in 1998. It is the fifth game in The King of Fighters series. It was advertised by SNK as a "special edition" of the series, as it featured most of the characters who appeared in the previous games.

<i>The King of Fighters 99</i> 1999 fighting video game

The King of Fighters '99: Millennium Battle is a 1999 fighting game developed and published by SNK for the Neo Geo arcade and home consoles in 1999. It is the sixth installment in The King of Fighters series, introducing a new story arc known as the "NESTS Chronicles" which is centered around a young man named K', who is formerly associated with a mysterious yet threatening organization known only as NESTS. The game introduces several changes to the established KOF format, most notably an assisting character labeled "Striker". The game was ported to the Neo-Geo CD and the PlayStation. Dreamcast and Microsoft Windows versions were also released under the title The King of Fighters' 99: Evolution whose stages were remodeled in 3D.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ash Crimson</span> Fictional character from The King of Fighters

Ash Crimson is a video game character in The King of Fighters fighting game series developed by SNK Playmore. His first appearance was in The King of Fighters 2003 as leader of its Hero Team. Ash, a teenager, participates in the series' fighting tournaments. He employs a personal fighting style that involves pyrokinesis with green flames. Despite being the series' protagonist since its third story arc, Ash's behavior is generally antagonistic and he tries to steal powers from several recurring characters, leaving them powerless. His identity and intentions are further explored in the 2011 title, The King of Fighters XIII, and he has been featured in print adaptations and a drama CD based on the games.

<i>The King of Fighters XI</i> 2005 video game

The King of Fighters XI(KOF XI) is a 2D fighting game produced by SNK Playmore. It is the eleventh installment in The King of Fighters series following The King of Fighters 2003. It was originally released as a coin-operated arcade game for the Atomiswave platform in 2005. A home version for the PlayStation 2 was released in Japan in 2006, followed by releases in the PAL region and North America in 2007. It is the first The King of Fighters game to not run on the Neo Geo and also the first one to not be named after its year of release.

<i>The King of Fighters 96</i> 1996 video game

The King of Fighters '96(KOF '96) is a fighting game released by SNK for the Neo Geo arcade and home consoles in 1996. It is the third game in The King of Fighters series, following The King of Fighters '95. Like its predecessor, the game was ported to the Neo-Geo CD, as well as the PlayStation and Sega Saturn. Unlike the previous game, the PlayStation and Saturn versions were released only in Japan, with a language setting allowing the player to set the game to English. It is also part of the compilation The King of Fighters Collection: The Orochi Saga for the PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable and Wii. It was also released on the Wii Virtual Console in Japan on February 15, 2011, in North America on July 12, 2012 and in the PAL region on November 22, 2012.

The King of Fighters 2001(KOF 2001, or KOF '01) is a fighting game produced by Eolith for the Neo Geo. It is the eighth game in The King of Fighters series, the third and final part of the "NESTS Chronicles" story arc, and the first game produced following the closure of the original SNK. The game was produced by the South Korea-based company Eolith and developed by Eolith and BrezzaSoft, a company formed by former SNK employees. The game was ported to the Sega Dreamcast in Japan only and PlayStation 2. The stand-alone PlayStation 2 version was released in North America and in Europe in a two-in-one bundle with the preceding game in the series, The King of Fighters 2000. Both the original Neo Geo version and the Sega Dreamcast version were included in The King of Fighters NESTS Hen compilation released for the PlayStation 2 in Japan.

<i>The King of Fighters 2000</i> 2000 video game

The King of Fighters 2000(KOF 2000, or KOF '00) is a fighting video game that was produced by SNK for the Neo Geo arcade and home consoles in 2000. It is the seventh installment in The King of Fighters series for the Neo Geo and the final game in the series SNK produced before the original company's bankruptcy. The game was ported to the Dreamcast and the PlayStation 2 in 2002. The game's story, a sequel to The King of Fighters '99 and the second part of the "NESTS Chronicles" story arc, focuses on a new tournament held by the commander of the Ikari Warriors, Heidern, who seeks to capture and interrogate former NESTS agents K' and Maxima into revealing crucial and critical information about the NESTS cartel. The gameplay retains the Striker system of the previous games in the series, but the assisting character can also cooperate with the playable character to generate combos.

<i>The King of Fighters 2002</i> 2002 video game

The King of Fighters 2002: Challenge to Ultimate Battle(KOF 2002, or KOF '02) is a fighting game produced by Eolith and Playmore for the Neo Geo in 2002. It is the ninth game in The King of Fighters series and the second one to be produced by Eolith and developed by Playmore. The game was ported to the Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, and the Xbox, where in the PS2 and Xbox versions were released in North America in a two-in-one bundle with the following game in the series, The King of Fighters 2003. The Dreamcast port was released only in Japan, it was also the last game in the series to be officially released for the Japanese Dreamcast.

<i>The King of Fighters 2003</i> 2003 video game

The King of Fighters 2003(KOF 2003, or KOF '03), also known by fans as The King of Fighters X is a fighting game produced by SNK Playmore for the Neo Geo arcade and home platforms in 2003. It is the tenth game in The King of Fighters series and the last one released for the Neo Geo, which served as the primary platform for the series since The King of Fighters '94. It was ported to the PlayStation 2 and Xbox, and was released in North America as a two-in-one bundle with the preceding game in the series, The King of Fighters 2002.

<i>The King of Fighters XIII</i> 2010 video game

The King of Fighters XIII(KOF XIII) is a fighting game in The King of Fighters series, developed and published by SNK Playmore originally in 2010. King of Fighters XIII was released for Japanese arcades on July 14, 2010, while ports for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 were released during late 2011 in Japanese and English regions, with Atlus USA and Rising Star Games being in charge of releasing them in the United States and Europe respectively. Versions for iOS and Android followed in 2011 and 2012. A PC version was released on Steam on September 13, 2013.

<i>The King of Fighters XIV</i> 2016 video game

The King of Fighters XIV(KOF XIV) is a 2016 Japanese fighting game. Part of SNK's franchise The King of Fighters (KOF) series, with this installment being published by Atlus USA in North America and Deep Silver in Europe. After the 13th installment that used 2D raster imagery, this game is rendered entirely in 3D similar to the spin-off Maximum Impact. The game was released worldwide for the PlayStation 4 in August 2016 and ported to the Microsoft Windows and Japanese arcade cabinets in June 2017.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">K'</span> Video game character from The King of Fighters fighting game series

K Dash, is a video game character from The King of Fighters fighting game series developed by SNK. He debuted as the leader of the Hero Team in The King of Fighters '99, released in 1999. He often stars as the reluctant hero. K′ is a young man who lost all his memories when the NESTS syndicate captured him and injected the DNA of Kyo Kusanagi to replicate his pyrokinetic abilities. While rebelling against organization, K' forms multiple bonds with other NESTS agents. Aside from the main series, K' also appears in several other media series, such as spin-offs and crossover video games, as well as printed adaptations of the series.

Leona, who is also known as Leona Heidern is a fictional character from SNK's The King of Fighters series of fighting video games. Leona is Heidern's adopted daughter, who is introduced in The King of Fighters '96; she replaces him because he accepts a more active role behind the scenes. Leona suffers from a curse known as Riot of the Blood that causes her to become berserk; she often takes the nicknames Orochi Leona and "Awakened Orochi Blood from the Darkness Leona". The character has also appeared in multiple spin-off games and other media, some of which also feature her Orochi form.

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