The King of Fighters XIV, or 14 for those who acknowledge Greek as a dead language, is being released in North America as of Aug. 23. This being said, some have already obtained and played through their own copies (don’t worry, guys, I won’t tell how), to the point where publisher SNK Playmore posted a tweet urging North American and Latin American fans not to spoil the game’s contents. Considering the entire soundtrack, ripped from the game, has been posted on YouTube since mid-July, it’s safe to say that the entire game has been posted as well.
Obviously this game must be hyped up, but what is King of Fighters? A fighting game series in competition with the Street Fighter since the mid-90’s, it shares many similarities with Street Fighter in how it is a 2-D fighter, complete with a health bar, EX bar, stun bar, etc. It originally appeared to have copied Street Fighter to the point where Capcom’s franchise mocked them by intentionally creating the weakest character in the game, Dan Hibiki. Very mature. However, King of Fighters focuses on different qualities, such as making more games, complex combos, hand-drawn animations, an anime-style story, and having music with the jazziest saxophone you’ve heard in your entire life. Perhaps the most defining quality of the series is playing on teams of 3 characters, allowing you to play a different character every round.
The newest installment changes a lot, namely how it changes its animation from hand-drawn pixel art to the use of 3-D models, which are admittedly less gorgeous. While the main characters still literally bowl multicolor sparks at each other, there are more than 20 returning characters and around 20 new characters to try, each having their own super-powered moveset.
This being said, it’s a story-based game. After you complete story mode, there’s not much left to do other than train or fight people online. There are indeed new characters, new animations, and new music, but it’s the same thing that it’s always been: a fighting game and a difficult one at that. When I say difficult, I’m talking impossibly hard. You have a single second to roll the control stick forward and back 3 times before pressing a button to do damage with your special move, and that’s not even the “Neo Max Super Move.” Try completing trial mode, it’s like doing timed algebra. Sounds like a fun game, doesn’t it?
Also, spoilers, the story is a complete joke. Everybody fights in the tournament that has always ended with terrorist organizations almost destroying the world, and everything goes smoothly until some guy on fire bursts in from the sky. You kick his ass, and that’s it, with little to no explanation given.
All in all, the game is, with all of its faults, the same King of Fighters that people have grown to know and love, to the point where people receive thousands of dollars winning tournaments. The highly competitive fighting game is bound to give prior fans exactly what they adore about the series.