I’ll be honest, I’m probably more like the Twice-removed relative of the squire of Fighters.
As if you hadn’t had enough of me already, here I am again. Sucks eh?
Today, we have ourselves a feast of a fighting game. Well maybe feast is going a bit far. For me, the King of Fighters franchise is sort of like that chain restaurant you go to every now and then, but taking progressively longer breaks in between successive visits, in order to decrease the disappointment when you realize that it isn’t as good as you remember.
There is validity in the question of why King of Fighters doesn’t receive the same amount of attention and admiration as other franchises in it’s field, such as Street Fighter, Tekken or Mortal Kombat. For me, the answer to that question comes in two parts: variety and eccentricity.
Every fighting game has a distinctive system that makes that game what it is. Street Fighter’s system is traditional and well-known, Tekken has mastered the 3-D fighting system that was popularized by fighters like Virtua Fighter, and Mortal Kombat has a stagger, stun, setup and combo-based fighting style mixed with intractable environments and bloody finishers.
But what about King of Fighters? The fighting system is much different. It has two kicks and two punches, but a myriad of specials and extra movement options from evasive rolls, hops and hyper-jumps. That isn’t the first defining trait of KoF though. The thing that sets Kof apart from every other fighter that it is competing with is it’s huge cast.
KoF has a HUGE cast, relative to other games of its type. Even most anime fighters which are notorious for having large casts pale in comparison. And this can cause problems. Probably the first example that comes to my mind is BlazBlue. Take the Chronophantasma Extend installation of the series. Going through the entire cast, you start to find moves that are overlapping between characters. While the moves may look different, their effect/usage are basically the same. It gets so bad that at some point it feels as if parts of the cast are just downright unnecessary.
With KoF… I think that the problem might be the inverse. I feel like there might be too much diversity in one game, which can be a problem. I mean, at the end of the day, you need to learn match ups. All of them. If every character is different… well…
Good luck with that.
I’m not saying the game is downright impossible. However, it makes it tough to think about the game at the same level as games like Street Fighter, where the cast is much smaller, but definitely more deeply understood. As the understanding grows deeper, so does the level of gameplay and competition, which makes the competitive side of the game that much more exciting to play and watch. With KoF, this may not be possible.
Of course, I don’t really care. I just like cool characters. That’s what I’m about. So let’s get too it then.
Note: I will include those characters who appear solely in 2002. I will review the characters that appear in KoF13 when I do that review at a later time.
#1. Blue Mary
Blue Mary kinda reminds me of Android 18, but that’s probably just the hair-style. While she does look very vanilla (and she plays that way as well, for a grappler at least), she is kinda fun. Her movement options with jump are cool-looking. As far as her physical features are concerned, there isn’t much standing out. I’m a sucker for fingerless gloves and no sleeves, and the borderline M.C. Hammer pants with the sandals are just icing on the cake. I just think she looks neat. Definitely modern WWE material.
Also, when she wins a round she gets attacked by her dog.
That’s what you get for throwing your coat at him Mary.
Angel did not make an appearance in 13, but she returns in 14 and I will definitely be playing her. Out of all of the characters on this list, she is definitely the coolest while maintaining a good deal of practicality. All of her normals are fast, her run speed is decent, her back dash is short but compliments her moveset, and I am really fond of her close-range ground pound special. Her standing animation is also really cool and works for me. Every grappler is defined by the position of their arms relative to their body. With Angel, we get one arm forward, one arm cocked back, and the fingers in constant motion preparing to grab. This actually tells you a lot about what their fighting style is based upon.
Another defining trait of Angel, unfortunately, is the cut of her clothing. Her midriff is bare and the area between her grown and the knee for the inner part of the leg is exposed. Why? Well, the logical explanation is fanservice. However, I would like to think that this is the reason for the superior speed of her attacks. All of her kicks are incredibly quick and versatile. Maybe the reason for this is the removal of the clothing in the area around the thigh, which could prevent full flexion of the leg muscle unless removed. I really want to think this way, but sadly the reason is probably far more inappropriate than this. The rest of her taunts and non-fighting behavior suggest as much.
That being said, I still really enjoy Angel’s play and I really feel like she moves how I want her to.
I live near a grocery store named Kasumi. Irrelevant, but it is a fact.
I’m not sure why she seems so disappointed in K’. I’m sure he tried his best. That aside, let’s talk about Kasumi. She is actually a very interesting character, despite her boring look. She looks like your typical martial arts type, although her attire reminds me of archery or kendo… maybe falconry. I dunno, but either way, her move set is actually very interesting, and it makes for some varied game plans. Her standing kicks are good approach tools, despite seeming very defensive, and allow for a very quick approach-grab combo. Along with this is her grounded movement, which is far faster than you might think, and definitely versatile. Her backdash isn’t the longest, but it’s faster than expected. Overall, this character is a bunch of surprises.
However, I have one quam. Please consider the following win screen.
Really guys? Did you even try? Were you trying to translate the accent? It’s coming off as a bit offensive. Not a good look folks.
Boy, do I love Shermie. I’ve already said I’m a sucker for a bunch of things, but Shermie just hits all the right notes, already from the character select screen. The finger on bottom lip, the eyes covered by bangs and the huge collars. This character was meticulously designed to give off a rosy-red feel. Typically, there are two ways that characters of this nature can go: sweet and innocent, or diabolically lascivious. I’m glad they went in the direction they did. Dang, I love this character, she’s just looks so sick.
The only problem was that this has happened to me before. I see characters on the select screen that look amazing in static form, but are unimpressive in game. However, Shermie did not disappoint.
Like most characters, she is hand-to-hand melee mixed with grappling (more grappling heavy in my case). Her pre-battle static animation is cool, but what I find so endearing is her quirky move set. I’m a sucker for weird timings and strange hitboxes and this is Shermie’s wheelhouse. Her moves add to her movement options, they have odd delays and strange geometry on their hit and hurtboxes. I love playing around and experimenting with how to play her against the cast. It’s so much fun and adds a spice to the game.
Overall, Shermie is one of my all time favorites.
Ya got that right Shermie.
While Shermie may take the role of waifu, Vanessa is up for contention. At the very least, she was the first character that I ever really gelled with in any fighting game, which is gives her a special place in me heart. Her move set are completely in tune with how I want to play: punch, bob and weave. I just really like boxing and street fighting in general, and Vanessa has a scrappy movement-based style of one-two’s, side-switches, and razor sharp punches. Everything about her just screams my play style. I love to keep it simple and straightforward, and she allows me to take control of the game play. Just an really fun character for me to play, and another of my all time favorites.
You may have noticed that this list has been only female-populated. Well, in case you were not aware, there are male members of the cast. And they all bore me to death.
Except for Shingo.
Shingo is, without a doubt, the most hilariously stupid character in this game. His story is that he is Kyo Kusanagi’s greatest disciple and fanboy. And there you have it.
His personality is so anime that… I just can’t stop laughing. Most characters in the game save all of their backstory/personality related movements and speech fx for the win/lose screen. However Shingo lets stuff slip all over the place, and it is amazing. As he attacks with a forward special, he sometimes says, “Get you!” excitedly. Like, what?!?!?
He even smack-talks Iori before a fight, claiming to be Kusangi’s greatest apprentice. It’s just… so funny.
Of course, he has a special cry for Kusanagi where he just screams excitedly, “Kusanagi-san!!” And of course, Kusanagi blandly replies, “Ikuze.” as if he can’t wait to get this over with for the 1000th time. Yeah, Shingo is amazing.
Alright folks, that’s it for this list. Look forward to the following characters when I do the KoF13 list later:
Athena, Mature/Vice, Leona, Mai Shiranui, K’, Kula, King
Thanks for reading and have a great day!