The King of Fighters XIV

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The King of Fighters XIV
King of Fighters XIV cover art.jpg
Developer(s) SNK
Publisher(s)
Director(s) Yasuyuki Oda
Artist(s) Eisuke Ogura
Series The King of Fighters
Platform(s) PlayStation 4
Microsoft Windows
Arcade
Release PS4
  • NA: August 23, 2016
  • JP: August 25, 2016
  • EU: August 26, 2016
Microsoft Windows[1]
  • WW: June 15, 2017
Arcade
  • JP: June 29, 2017
Genre(s) Fighting
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer
Cabinet Taito Type X3

The King of Fighters XIV (ザ・キング・オブ・ファイターズ XIV) is a fighting game in The King of Fighters (KOF) video game series developed and published in Japan by SNK. It was developed for the PlayStation 4 and released in August 2016. Atlus USA and Deep Silver published the game in North America and Europe, respectively. It is notable as the first main-series The King of Fighters game rendered entirely in 3D, in contrast to previous installments which used 2D raster imagery.

The game's development began in April 2014 when SNK's CEO announced the company should start designing new, appealing video games. This entry in the series was directed by Yasuyuki Oda who has previously worked on Capcom's Street Fighter IV as well as titles by SNK. While working to make it as popular as The King of Fighters '98 and The King of Fighters 2002, the designers also decided to implement the "Rush" system to invite newcomers to the series.

Critical reception to The King of Fighters XIV has been generally positive with video game publications praising the appeal of its fighting system to newcomers and experts of fighting games. However, it has also been criticized for its use of a graphic engine that supports real-time 3D rendering at an inferior quality to fighting games released during the 8th generation.

Gameplay[edit]

A fight between Terry Bogard (left) and Geese Howard (right).

The King of Fighters XIV features full 3D models like The King of Fighters: Maximum Impact, but on a 2D plane like Street Fighter IV and its updates, while keeping the same formula used in the previous installments. The Hyper Drive system from the last game is no longer present and has been replaced with a new version of "Max Mode" from earlier games in the series. In Max mode, the player can perform unlimited EX special moves for a short period of time, and the timer changes depending on what position their character is in.

The characters have three types of Supers: the returning "Super Special Moves" and "Max Super Special Moves", the latter of which require a total of two power gauges to execute (one in Max mode on), and a new type called "Climax Super Special Moves". Climax Super Special Moves are the strongest types in the game and will require a total of three power gauges (two with Max mode on). The game also features the "Just Defend" mechanic from Garou: Mark of the Wolves. The HD thrust system now makes the opponent hit the wall and crumple for follow up attacks.[2] The game is designed to play like The King of Fighters XIII during Max mode where the player can use EX moves and three levels of Supers that can be canceled in their order of hierarchy. For beginners, there will be the automatic and simple "Rush Combo".[3] The online lobby has three modes: team VS, single VS, and party VS; up to 12 players can enter and also spectate.[4]

Plot[edit]

For the story mode, players can choose a team of three fighters and interact with others depending on their relationships.[5]

The story begins years after the last tournament when a mysterious Russian billionaire called Antonov buys the rights of the King of Fighters brand to host a new tournament. But the end, the fighters must confront a creature called Verse, whose existence is the result of Ash Crimson's time and space distortion, when he changed the timeline in the previous tournament. This anomaly attracted characters from other dimensions and universes, such as Nakoruru, and implicates three characters called Shun'Ei, Meitenkun, and Kukri.[6]

Characters[edit]

The King of Fighters XIV includes 16 teams of 3 fighters, a sub-boss, a final boss, and 8 downloadable characters, totaling 58 combatants:

Development[edit]

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.[22][23] The staff wanted the game to be easy to play and as popular as The King of Fighters '98 and KOF 2002.[3] While KOF XIII was a success, it was noted by the staff to be challenging to newcomers.[24] Accordingly, they intended to combine the simplicity of KOF '98 with the Quick Max features of KOF 2002 and the way meters were managed in KOF XIII.[4] The game was first announced at the Sony Computer Entertainment Press Conference for the 2015 Tokyo Game Show[25] and was present at the PlayStation Experience 2015.[26] SNK Playmore chose the PlayStation 4 as its console due to high worldwide sales.[27] While SNK Playmore did not want to add a new system to the game, some changes were made in response to The King of Fighters XIII. Whether the game will be given updates (like Street Fighter IV) or be a single release followed by sequels was yet to be decided.[2] In August 2016, the staff decided to advance the new plot through a sequel.[28]

Engine[edit]

In October 2015, it was confirmed that The King of Fighters XIV would be directed by Yasuyuki Oda, the battle designer of Street Fighter IV, who previously worked for SNK R&D Division 1 which includes staff members from the Fatal Fury and the Art of Fighting series.[29] 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.[30] The team received negative feedback to early trailers' visuals of the game. As a result, the company decided to improve them on it to please the fans.[31]

The game engine was internally developed by SNK. They were considering Unreal Engine earlier in development but decided not to go with it because the version at the time didn't match well with SNK's situation including their knowledge, budget, and potential risks. They didn't go with cell-shaded graphics because Oda and Kuroki's vision of the King of Fighters series is that of '94. Neo_G agrees that Neo Geo games back then had a look that tried to imitate reality through pixels. According to Oda, the series always had tall "realistic" characters up until XIII, which was more anime-style. The original game had more realistic visuals but clashed with character models – like Kula Diamond and Athena Asamiya – so they opted for the current look.[4]

Additionally, the staff found it challenging to run the game at 60 frames per second in high definition. The demand for 60 frames per second over more detailed graphics was made to ensure the game performed well online.[28] Nevertheless, to save production time and budget, Oda allowed for three characters to obscure their faces so they would not require facial animations.[28] Sound director Hideki Asanaka also found problems incorporating all the sound effects for the 3D game in contrast to previous titles. The team used camerawork in every Max Super Desperation Move and Climax Super Special Move in order to make them look stylish.[6] The battle design was made by Hayato Watanabe whereas Eisuke Ogura is the main artist.[4]

Cast[edit]

Known for having a large character roster,[24] on December 5, 2015 at PlayStation Experience, SNK Playmore confirmed a 50-character roster for The King of Fighters XIV.[13] Having only a few designers on staff, art director Nobuyuki Kuroki found this "unfair".[28] SNK also expressed satisfaction with the way the game was being received by the Chinese market. However, China's release of the game had some cases of censorship.[32] One roster was composed almost entirely of returning characters, while another was mostly new characters, so the staff selected from all of them, putting the global market into consideration. They wanted to give the roster some regional colors, with teams by countries and teams by concepts (like the female fighters team).[30] They also confirmed the game was 70% completed.[2] The staff used all of their sources to make these characters and have no plans to make additional characters.[4]

Despite speculations that King of Dinosaurs was just Tizoc from Garou: Mark of the Wolves with a different design, Ogura maintained that the two were different characters despite their similar fighting styles – until the game's release revealed King of Dinosaurs and Tizoc were one and the same. Back in the Neo Geo's era of the series, developers were unable to add Nakoruru from Samurai Shodown due to the engine limitations. When she was revealed in KOF XIV, the staff was surprised by her popularity. The staff also noted that despite the Orochi clan members dying in the series' first story arc, they might consider adding them depending on thoughts regarding the storyline.[4] Blue Mary and Ryuji Yamazaki from the Fatal Fury series were also considered to be playable but the staff wanted the game to feel more like The King of Fighters. On the other hand, they noted that the game lacked characters from Art of Fighting and attempted to add Jack Turner and John Crawley but Oda declined due to their lack of popularity. Rock Howard from Garou: Mark of the Wolves is also considered to be included but due to Geese's appearance at, they found it complicated as Mark of the Wolves took place years after Geese's death in the Fatal Fury series, until they changed their minds to include Rock as a DLC character.[28]

Demos and release[edit]

A comparison of the graphics before and after update.

On July 13, 2016, SNK announced "The King of Fighters XIV World Premiere Tour" where the staff would visit different parts of the world to let fans play the release build with 48 characters from the game. The demo ran from July 15 to August 21 from the same year.[33] The demos balanced the cast of characters and avoided overpowered characters.[28] Whereas SNK is releasing it in Japan, Atlus USA and Deep Silver will publish it in North America and Europe respectively.[34][35] Demos of the game have been shown in various countries such as Japan, Korea, and the United States.[36][37][38]

In the Americas, some copies of the game were shipped earlier than their official date. As a result, SNK asked players to avoid spoiling the game.[39] Kyo Kusanagi's classic high school outfit appeared as a pre-order bonus and downloadable content (DLC), while Iori Yagami's classic outfit appeared as a pre-order bonus for Chinese version until being released as DLC worldwide.[40] Additionally, a new design of "Nightmare Geese" appeared as a DLC.[41] For Japan's release, SNK sells the game alongside an artbook.[42] Atlus USA announced that for their limited edition, the game will include a three-CD soundtrack as well as an artbook.[43] A patch to fix the game's online issues was also released by SNK shortly after the game's debut.[44] SNK announced another patch in November in order to boost the game's visuals.[45] This free patch became available on January 11, 2017 alongside more alternate colors for the characters. Athena Asamiya's The King of Fighters '98 outfit will also be available as downloadable content later that month, followed by other DLC outfits each later months/weeks.[46] The patch was given its own demo in late December 2016.[47] It was announced that 4 announced DLC characters Whip, Ryuji Yamazaki, Vanessa and Rock Howard, along with 2 announced free DLC update patch stages Terry Bogard's Fatal Fury 2 stage and Monaco stage from The King of Fighters '97 will be released on April 5, 2017.[48]

Reception[edit]

Reception
Aggregate score
AggregatorScore
Metacritic79/100[49]
Review scores
PublicationScore
Destructoid8/10
EGM8.5/10[50]
Eurogamer8/10[51]
Game Informer7.3[52]
Game Revolution8/10[55]
GameSpot80[53]
GamesRadar+90[54]
IGN8/10[56]
Gaming AgeA+[57]
Metro GameCentral8/10[58]

The King of Fighters XIV received generally positive reviews by video game media with Metacritic having an average score of 79 out of 100.[49] Gaming Age's Chris Dunlap gave it a perfect score believing it is the best The King of Fighters game in the series, recommending it to fans of the fighting game genre due to its appealing traits.[57] GameSpot writer Matt Espineli praised the fighting system due to its appeal to newcomers but criticized the 3D characters models.[53] Despite also criticizing its design as well as the difficulties of mastering a character's moves without the Rush system, Game Informer writer Suriel Vazquez praised the game's online mode despite some slowdowns.[52] Lucas Sullivan from GamesRadar was more positive; finding the 3D models to be more likable and enjoying the game's mechanics, he did criticize the story mode for its similarities with the ones from the arcades.[54] Mollie Patterson of EGM wrote, "The King of Fighters XIV revives the glory of the franchise where it counts most: gameplay and core mechanics."[50] Metro summarized it as "A successful soft reboot for the venerable fighting game series, and a great jumping-on point for those dissatisfied by Street Fighter V."[58]

The game reached number 20 on the UK physical sales chart.[59]

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.[60] SNK already had plans to make a sequel, The King of Fighters XV. However, they instead decided to developed a more light-hearted game solely focused on female fighters, SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy.[61]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]