List of The King of Fighters characters

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Character roster of The King of Fighters XI

The King of Fighters fighting game series, produced by SNK Playmore, includes a wide cast of characters, some of which are taken from other SNK games. The story takes place in a fictional universe in which an annual series of 3-on-3 or 4-on-4 fighting tournaments are held.

The first game in the series introduces the initial main character of the series, Kyo Kusanagi, a young Japanese fighter who is the heir to a powerful group of martial artists having pyrokinetic abilities. Kyo fights against the Kusanagi clan's enemies, his rival Iori Yagami, and the god Orochi and its human followers, among others. The first four games in the series revolve about these fights, while The King of Fighters '99 introduces a new story arc, revolving around K′, a young man who seeks to destroy the mysterious NESTS organization because they kidnapped him at an early age and stripped him of his past memories, so that they could force him to be a fighter under their control. In The King of Fighters 2003, a new character named Ash Crimson enters the tournament, to steal the powers of the clans who sealed the Orochi in the past for unknown reasons. A new group of antagonists, known as Those From the Past, also appears in the series; they want to obtain Orochi's power for the purpose of giving it to their unknown master.

The plot and the characters came from the Yamata no Orochi legend. There are also several characters in the games that are parodies or homages. Merchandise based on the characters has also been released, including action figures and keychains. The characters have garnered praise from several video game publications for the quality of their designs and movesets. Comments focused on the lack of improvements in some of the characters, but added that the roster is greatly diverse.

Cast creation and influences[edit]

The developers of the series claim that their prototype version for King of Fighters was going to be a side-scrolling beat 'em up titled Survivor. It would have used only core characters from the Art of Fighting and Fatal Fury series, specifically allowing players to play Robert Garcia and Terry Bogard for location testing. However, the idea was quickly abandoned. Since the developers were attached to the idea of the two series cross-over, they eventually agreed to make their idea into a fighting game. Characters from the Ikari Warriors and Psycho Soldier games were also added in the spirit of other gaming genres considered for their final product. The concept of a three-man team was one of the ideas kept from the side-scrolling version.[1] Flagship director Toyohisa Tanabe asserts that the Art of Fighting and Fatal Fury fighters were added specifically for adults. The newer King of Fighters characters were aimed to appeal to younger and newer audiences. He adds that every original character for the series was added based on the developers' strong desire to make one. For example, he agreed to include characters such as Benimaru Nikaido and Chang Koehan to add an off-beat variety to the cast, which he had previously deemed to be too serious. Later in the series, their approach to creating their characters altered slightly, to also serve as a type of fan service, which he refers to as a collaborative effort between fans and the staff.[2]

Several characters that appear in the series are parodies or homages to either anime, manga, actors, films or television shows that held the creators' interest. Noticeable examples are K9999 and Zero.[2] Characters are sometimes added at the voice actors' convenience, or to fill in gaps that occur for each installment's story; this happens with Duck King in The King of Fighters XI and Ryuji Yamazaki in The King of Fighters '97.[3][4] Several characters were added to the roster by Eolith's desire when this company sponsored SNK, to attract fans from Eolith's region.[5]

When designing characters for the first King of Fighters game, developers wanted a new, "snazzy" hero who would easily fight against Fatal Fury and Art of Fighting characters. Initially, this character was called Syo Kirishima, but late in the production, his name was changed to Kyo Kusanagi. This was done in order to relate him with the Yamata no Orochi legend, which was used as the inspiration for the first arc (and specifically featured a majestic sword known as Kusanagi no Tsurugi).[6] To continue with the idea of the Orochi plot, the designers gave several other characters, such as Kyo's rival Iori Yagami, similar characteristics to Kyo.[7] In The King of Fighters '99, to contrast the previous protagonist of the series, K' was made to be the "dark hero".[8] K's introduction to the series was meant to remove popular characters Kyo Kusanagi and Iori Yagami from the roster, though this idea was scrapped in the game's release.[9] Due to the large additions of teenager characters in the series, SNK decided to add several middle-age ones to balance them.[10][11]

Character appearances[edit]