The King of Fighters

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The King of Fighters
The King of Fighters logo.png
Genre(s)Fighting
Developer(s)SNK (formerly SNK Playmore)
Publisher(s)
Platform(s)Arcade, Neo Geo, Neo Geo CD, Neo Geo Pocket, Neo Geo Pocket Color, Sega Saturn, PlayStation, Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation Network, Virtual Console, iOS, Android, Microsoft Windows, Xbox, Xbox 360, Nintendo Switch
First releaseThe King of Fighters '94
August 25, 1994
Latest releaseThe King of Fighters XIV
August 23, 2016

The King of Fighters (KOF)[a] is a series of fighting games by SNK that began with The King of Fighters '94 in 1994. The series was originally developed for SNK's Neo Geo MVS arcade hardware, which served as the main platform for the series until 2004, when SNK retired the MVS in favor of the Atomiswave arcade board. Two King of Fighters games were made for the Atomiswave platform (The King of Fighters Neowave and The King of Fighters XI) before SNK decided to discontinue using the platform for the series. The last arcade hardware for the series is the Taito Type X2, with its first usage coming with the release of The King of Fighters XII. Ports of the arcade games and original The King of Fighters games have been released for several video games consoles. The latest entry in the series, The King of Fighters XIV, was released for PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Windows in 2016.

The story of the games 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 the member from Art of Fighting, Fatal Fury among others. Multiple spin-off games such as the R duology from the Neo Geo Pocket, the Maximum Impact for the PlayStation 2, among others have also been released. There have 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 among others.

The King of Fighters was originally conceptualized side-scrolling beat 'em up, titled Survivor until SNK changed it to the fighting game that took the subtitle from the first Fatal Fury game: Fatal Fury: King of Fighters. Though originally released as yearly releases starting from arcades for the Neo Geo to video game consoles, ever since The King of Fighters XI, the company decided take more time to develop their games. Critical reception to the video games has been generally positive to due its usage of teams to fight, balancing in gameplay though critics were divided in the challlenging boss fights.

Games[edit]

Main series[edit]

Arcade cabinet for KOF '98
Timeline of release years
1994The King of Fighters '94
1995The King of Fighters '95
1996The King of Fighters '96
1997The King of Fighters '97
1998The King of Fighters '98
1999The King of Fighters '99
2000The King of Fighters 2000
2001The King of Fighters 2001
2002The King of Fighters 2002
2003The King of Fighters 2003
2004The King of Fighters: Maximum Impact
The King of Fighters '94 Re-Bout
The King of Fighters Neowave
2005The King of Fighters XI
2006The King of Fighters: Maximum Impact 2
2007
2008The King of Fighters '98 Ultimate Match
2009The King of Fighters XII
The King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match
2010The King of Fighters XIII
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016The King of Fighters XIV

The first game in the series, The King of Fighters '94, was released by SNK on August 25, 1994.[1] The game 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 success of the game led SNK to release yearly installments of the series and numbered the games for the year they were released. The King of Fighters '95, in addition to adding new characters, also began the first story arc of the series titled "The Orochi Saga". It was also the first game in the series that allowed the players to create their own team of three members, out of any character in the game.[2] The King of Fighters '96 established the second part of "The Orochi Saga" and replaced the character sprites from the previous two years with newly drawn ones, as well as improving the gameplay system. Depending on the playable characters in a team, an exclusive ending will be played.[3] The King of Fighters '97 concluded "The Orochi Saga" story arc.[4] The King of Fighters '98 , and unlike the previous games of the series, did not feature a story. Instead, the game 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 a new story arc known as "The NESTS Chronicles" along with several new characters into the series, as well as the rule of a fourth member being added to each team. In a new tactic, a specific person from a team would be an assistant called a "Striker" and that 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 to be made by SNK before the bankruptcy. It adds a few new playable characters and a couple of Strikers (most of them being from previous KOF titles and other SNK titles as well such as Metal Slug and Kizuna Encounter).[7] The King of Fighters 2001 ends the second story arc. Due to economic problems that SNK had at the time, the Korean company Eolith helped in the development of the game after SNK was bankrupted.[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 called the "Tales of Ash" started in The King of Fighters 2003, the last KOF game to be released for the Neo Geo system. It allowed the players to change characters while playing, but the number of team members was reduced back to three. SNK returned to the franchise development in this entry.[10] By 2004, SNK abandoned yearly releases of the series and numbered future games in a more traditional manner.[11] The first main series game released as such was The King of Fighters XI, released in 2005.[12] The King of Fighters XII was released in 2009, using high-resolution, hand-drawn 2D sprites on detailed 2D backgrounds.[13] It is a storyless gathering of fighters, similar to KOF '98 and 2002 before it. The story arc ends with The King of Fighters XIII, which features the entire roster from The King of Fighters XII as well as additional characters and was released during the summer of 2010.[14]

The King of Fighters XIV was released for the PlayStation 4 on August 23, 2016, featuring 3D graphics and a large roster of characters.[15]

Other games[edit]

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.[16] A remake for 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.[17] 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 Japanese Dreamcast port of KOF '99.[18] 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 from KOF '97 while interacting with other rivals.[19] For the Neo Geo Pocket, an adaptation of KOF '97 titled King of Fighters R-1 was released in October 28, 1998.[20] A sequel for the Neo Geo Pocket Color, King of Fighters R-2, was released on March 19, 1999.[21]

In 2004, SNK produced the first 3D installment of the series, The King of Fighters: Maximum Impact.[22] The game and its sequel KOF: Maximum Impact 2 and its upgraded version Maximum Impact: Regulation A, revises much of the backstory for characters and settings from previous games.[23] 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.[24] 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 that game, Neowave has no storyline and is considered a "dream match". The character artwork was done by Tomokazu Nakano.[25] 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 respectively, featuring characters and backgrounds from KOF '99 and 2000, respectively.[26][27] A role-playing game was also created exclusively for the PlayStation under the name of The King of Fighters: Kyo, adapting a manga with the same name.[28] An N-Gage version of the first Game Boy Advance game was released in 2005, titled The King of Fighters Extreme, which added Bluetooth multiplayer.

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,[29][30] and the third, Maximum Impact focuses on the series' 3D titles. None of these was released outside Japan.[31] 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.[32]

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.[33] A rhythm game titled The Rhythm of Fighters was released for mobile phone games during 2015.[34] 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 followed by a minor upgrade, Capcom vs. SNK Pro, in 2001 and a sequel titled Capcom vs. SNK 2, released in 2001.[35] All three games were produced for the NAOMI hardware and later ported to various consoles. SNK also produced SNK vs. Capcom: SVC Chaos,[36] and the video game card game titled SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighters DS.[37]

Multiple mobile phones have also been produced including The King of Fighters: All Star,[38] Kimi wa Hero,[39] Clash of Kings,[40] KOF X Arena Masters,[41] KOF: WORLD,[42] The King of Fighters Orochi Go, The King of Cyphers,[43][44] and a crossover with Fatal Fury.[45] The characters have also been guest in other mobile games such as Kyo in Fighting Days.[46]

Compilations[edit]

In addition to the remakes of individual games such as Re-bout, Ultimate Match, and 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 Compilation") 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 MMBB service.[47] 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 Compilation"), 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.[48]

A separately produced compilation titled The King of Fighters Collection: The Orochi Saga was released for the PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable and Wii in North America, the PAL region, and Southeast Asia. This compilation has the same lineup of games as the Japanese Orochi Hen, along with KOF '94 and KOF '98, although the extra features are different, with an added Challenge Mode where the player must win certain matches against the CPU in KOF '98 under specific conditions and a media gallery featuring listenable tracks from each game and a collection of official illustrations.[47]

Gameplay elements[edit]

A fight between Kyo (an original character) and Kim (Fatal Fury). In the background it can be seen Kyo's two teammates that 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 similar to Fatal Fury 2 and Fatal Fury Special, that consists of light punch, light kick, strong punch and strong kick. Like in 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 that can be performed by the player with a specific series of joystick and button inputs.[49] Each new installment gives new ways to create stronger attacks such as The King of Fighters '97. Instead of charging the Power Gauge, the Power Gauge is now filled whenever 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 will make the player perform a more powerful Super Special Move.[50]

The franchise is notorious for innovating the innovated 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 following 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.[49]

The three games The King of Fighters '99, 2000, and 2001 added the idea of having each team being given an extra character that can assist the player to produce more attacks or combos against the enemy.[51] While 2002 brought back the classic 3 on 3 teams, 2003 and IX instead made the change to make each team switch fighters in the middle of the combat with one of them being a "Leader" character who can perform stronger techniques.[52] Following games, however, returned to the classic way of fighting while still delivering different ways and rules of fighting.

Plot and characters[edit]

Despite having origined as a crossover between different franchises, The King of Fighters employs different original characters as leads as seen: Kyo Kusanagi (bottom right), Iori Yagami (bottom left), Ash Crimson (top right) and K' (top right)

The titular King of Fighters tournament originated from SNK's previous fighting game franchises, Fatal Fury and Art of Fighting. The first game in the series, KOF '94, centers on a black market arms dealer named Rugal Bernstein, who hosts the 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 previous 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 previous leads and stand out within the crossover.[53]

In KOF '95, Rugal, having survived the previous tournament, host a new one with the intentions of seeking revenge against his adversaries. KOF '95 introduced Kyo's rival Iori Yagami to the series and was the first game to mention the presence of the Orochi clan, which would serve as the central plot element in the following two games in the series. The tournament 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,[54] while the following 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 would introduce a new lead character named K′: a fugitive from NESTS who was genetically enhanced with Kyo's DNA.[55] The two following games in the series, KOF 2000 and KOF 2001, continue the NESTS storyline, with each game further unraveling the mystery of the organization. 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 fights against the NESTS sindicate despite his recluntacy.[56]

KOF 2003 begins a new storyline 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 by acting as a villain during his story arc.[57] The tournaments from 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 that they can give it to their shrouded master. While KOF XII does not have a story, KOF XIII follows another tournament hosted by Those From the Past with Ash eventually confronting their superior despite him being Ash's ancestor.[58]

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 the new main character, he is still important for the saga.[59]

Development[edit]

The prototype version of the game was a side-scrolling beat 'em up, titled Survivor. It would only use core characters from the Art of Fighting and Fatal Fury series, specifically allowing players to play Robert Garcia and Terry Bogard (respectivelly from Art of Fighting and Fatal Fury) for location testing. However, the idea was eventually abandoned. Since SNK were attached to the idea of the two-series crossover, they eventually agreed to make their idea into a fighting game. Characters from Ikari Warriors and Psycho Soldier were also added to the roster. The concept of a three-man team was one of the ideas kept from the side-scrolling version.[60] The title "The King of Fighters" was re-used from the subtitle of the first Fatal Fury game, Fatal Fury: King of Fighters.[61] The King of Fighters series director Toyohisa Tanabe asserted that the Art of Fighting and Fatal Fury fighters were added specifically for adults, and the newer KOF characters were aimed to appeal to younger and newer audiences. Characters such as Benimaru Nikaido and Chang Koehan were added to have an off-beat variety to the cast, which he has previously deemed to be too serious.[62]

While the first two games used the Neo-Geo MVS arcade, The King of Fighters '96 one includes 68 KB of RAM of video and 64 KB of RAM. This made The King of Fighters '96 the first game to break the technical limits of the MVS system.[63] Staff members from SNK noted thatdue to how popular some characters of the series have become, it is difficult to design new ones that might have the same appeal. This also happens during location tests of new games.[64] The artist known as Shinkiro was responsible for the first artworks involving the cast. As a result, newcomer artist Hiroaki felt he needed to draw with the idea of appealing characters despite lacking experience during his debut.[65] Former producer Takashi Nishiyama was not present in the team for the first time in the for The King of Fighters 2000 which led to negative thoughts within the team.[66] Despite early negative thoughts about the game's state, SNK was pleased with the way the title was concluded, citing the arcade as an appealing game. Following its release, SNK thanked the fans for their support.[67] Mexican company Evoga had a major influence in the games due to the franchise's popularity within Latin America.[68]

In 2000, SNK went bankrupt but Eolith contracted a license agreement in the same year to keep with the production of the series KOF. Eolith took interest into developing The King of Fighers due to the franchise's popularity in Korea and wanted to please the fans of the series worldwidely. Brezza Soft helped Eolith in the making of the video game. Fearing disappointment from returning fans, Eolith decided to maintain the 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 assisting the playable one. The team aimed for a refinement of the original gameplay system from previous KOF games. While performing a popularity poll based on the characters, Eolith still aimed to make the least popular teams featured in the game. The high popularity of Kyo Kusanagi and Iori Yagami led to their immediate inclusion in the game.[69] References to works from Evoga can be seen in the scenarios from the game. While working on it, the team played The King of Fighters '98 alongside the developers to see if they could include a character within the game. A member from Evoga won, resulting in the team requesting to add Angel in the game.[70] Starting 2003, the games were developed once again by SNK, by them known as SNK Playmore.[71] SNK Playmore would within the same year discontinue the AES system, preferring to publish video games in cooperation with Sammy, using its Atomiswave arcade board, which would provide it a more secure and modern platform for new arcade releases. This allowed the new KOF games to feature better audio and graphics and its predecessors.[72]

Since the first game in The King of Fighters series, each of them were released every year; the last of them to be released in this manner 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. Development of the game began when the SNK staff finished making Neo Geo Battle Coliseum.[73] The series would continue 2003 with XI, XII and XIII which had major changes to appeal to the audience.[74] 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, the game began full production when more staff from Esaka joined the team in April 2014.[75][76] Yasuyuki Oda was the game's director. This was his first contribution to the franchise, leading a younger staff. During Oda's first employment at SNK, games like Virtua Fighter amazed and motivated him to make a 3D game after his departure. When Oda returned to SNK, there were never any debates about making the series transition from 2D to 3D, though the adaption of some characters proved more difficult than others.[77] Many of the staff members of SNK consider KOF '98 and KOF 2002 to be the best games within the franchise which led them with the ideas to create new entries that surpass the quality of these two games.[78][79] During a contest, SNK used the DLC character Najd based on the Saudi Arabian artist Mashael. SNK Chairman Zhihui Ge expressed desire to bring more Middle Easten fans play the game while also hiring new creators during the post-release of XIV.[80]

Related media[edit]

Printed adaptations[edit]

During 1995 Tatsuya Shingyoji authored a manga adaptation of The King of Fighters '94. It was serialized in Shōnen Ace from Kadokawa Shoten and was collected into four tankōbon volumes. They were released from February 10, 1995 to December 1996.[81][82] 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 authored by Masato Natsumoto and published by Kodansha in two tankōbon volumes during 1997.[83][84] Ryo Takamisaki also developed another adaptation from KOF '96; Shinseisha published the series in three tankōbon compilations from June 1996 to February 1998.[85][86] Akihiko Ureshino also authored multiple novelizations based on the games with different artists contributing to each installment.[87][88][89]

The KOF XIV game inspired a manga adaptation titled The King of Fighters: A New Beginning by Kyōtarō Azuma. The series is being published in Kodansha's Magazine Pocket starting on January 2018.[90]

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, starting in The King of Fighters 2001 through 2003 along with the Maximum Impact series.[91] Both authors also made a sequel, The King of Fighters 03: Xenon Zero (拳皇 XENON ZERO), to conclude the 2003 tournament.[92] ComicsOne licensed the series with its first volume tying the release of a new video game and kept publishing it after their transition to DrMaster.[93][94] They were published in five issues of 128 pages from May 25, 2005 to June 26, 2008.[95][96] Another manhua series is King of Fighters RX Project '00 (拳皇RX) is a three-volume manhua series that was officially sponsored by SNK-Playmore Hong Kong. The NESTS saga version was illustrated by Ricky, covering the fight against NESTS primarily focused in the 2000 tournament.[97]

Film and animation[edit]

A short series based upon KOF entitled 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.[98] An English-language live-action film The King of Fighters was released direct-to-DVD in the United States in 2010.[99][100] New anime and live-action drama productions were announced in 2016.[101][102]

The CG anime series The King of Fighters: Destiny was released on Steam and YouTube beginning in 2017.[103][104] The first season retells the story of the first games with Kyo Kusanagi leading the Japan Team to participate into 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.[105]

CDs[edit]

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 altogether and 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.[106] The Band of Fighters, shortened as BOF, is a character image band that is formed with Kyo Kusanagi, Iori Yagami, Terry Bogard, Nakoruru and Athena Asamiya.[107]

Dengeki Bunko and Pony Canyon have released several drama CDs from the series. Some of them are direct adaptations of several video games from 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 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 which is serious and one that 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.[108]

Other merchandise[edit]

In December 2006, Sabertooth Games released a King of Fighters 2006 set along with Samurai Shodown V for its Universal Fighting System (UFS) collectable card game; character starter packs were released for Terry Bogard and Mai Shiranui. Other merchandise includes numerous 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,[109] including a Nendoroid figure based on the former.[110]

Reception[edit]

The original games of The King of Fighters were well received for its usage of the team battle and considerable huge amount of characters for their releases.[111][112][113] Some games were often listed as the best fighting games from their release.[114][115] 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.[116] Critics noted they often served as rivals to Capcom's Street Fighter series based on some character designs and moves.[117][118] While KOF '96 was felt unbalanced due its usage of projectile moves, its updated graphics impressed reviewers.[119][120] SNK's constant use 2D sprites across multiple games has led to criticism as writer found them dated despite attempts to make the graphics more improved by the release of XI.[49][121][122] As a result, the graphic overhaul in the two following games was met high praise.[123][124][125]

While the fighting system has been well-received, critics have had mixed feelings regarding the Striker system introduced in KOF '99.[126][127] In GameSpot's "The History of SNK" article, KOF '99: Evolution was regarded as one of the best fighting games on the Dreamcast, along with Garou: Mark of the Wolves. However, due to being released during the PlayStation 2's launch and the Dreamcast's ending, the game did not have very good sales.[128] The boss characters Rugal Bersntein among others have been regarded to be one of the challenging characters to defeat in fighting games which lead to major criticism.[129][130][131][132][133]

The developers of KOF noted that Kyo and Iori were also highly popular in Korea which led to their immediate inclusion to The King of Fighters 2001 which was the first game not developed by the original company.[134] 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 onwards alongside Iori, Mai among others to the point of overshadowing the Street Fighter ones who were also largely well-known.[135] The Mexican company Evoga had a major influence in the game due to the franchise's popularity within Latin America to the point of often playtesting many of their games.[70] For KOF XIV, SNK noted that the series' popularity was still dominant in South America and China, leading to the creation of teams composed of people from those areas.[136]

The Daily Star noted their popularity comes not only from the gameplay but also the characters who tend to develop themselves across the series citing for example the rivalry between Kyo and Iori. The story arcs displayed in the franchise were also found appealing by the staff as they stand out between other fighting game franchise.[137] Kakuchopurei felt the series offered a balanced cast which would help any newcomer while also agreeing with Daily Star due to how SNK handled the storylines.[138] There has also been censorship in the North American ports of some games, most notably Whip's gun and blood.[139] Singer Del the Funky Homosapien has made a song titled "The King of Fighters" whose lyrics involve the characters and special moves.[140] In contrast, Ash Crimson's character recceived poor response in Western regions. In an interview with Ignition Entertainment 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.[141] After Ignition polled fans to choose an artbox for console versions of The King of Fighters XII, the company announced that Ash's unpopularity reduced the number of potential covers to two (featuring Kyo and Iori).[142]

Ben Herman, president from 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.[143] Despite initial issues with the online mode and other features from the game, Yasuyuki Oda stated the fan response to The King of Fighters XIV was positive especially after fixing these issues. As a result, he thinks The King of Fighters XV is possible but the company wants to focus on other franchises too.[144]

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  1. ^ Japanese title: Za Kingu Obu Faitāzu (ザ・キング・オブ・ファイターズ)
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External links[edit]