The King of Fighters has been around for a very long time. It’s one of the few fighting games that can hold its own against the likes of Capcom’s Street Fighter series. For me, 1996 was the year KoF came into its own. Sure, 95 and 94 were great, but 96 is when the game really took off and made a game series rather than a bunch of sequels.
As you can probably tell, KoF ’96 takes place after the events of ’95. Rugal is no longer the sponsor of the tournament, and the KoF tournament has become a major success, so much, in fact that it’s now a televised event, and tons of fans watch world wide. The main story follows the Hero team that consists of Kyo Kusanagi, Benimaru Nikaido, and Goro Daimon.
Just like the other KoF games, the main game play is 3 on 3 battles with the players choosing the order the fighters appear, only to be replaced when the first member of the team’s health is depleted. There are also single character matches as well that let you choose just one character to use instead of a team of 3.
The changes to game play are not too significant from ’95 to ’96 with the exception of the emergency rolls that can be performed to get out of the way of oncoming attacks. You can still use Desperation moves and Super Desperation moves based on your energy meter and health bar. There’s even an assist attack you can perform if you meet the requirements.
Like I said earlier, KoF ’96 was the year KoF made a brand for itself. The music, style, art, and other pieces of the game are where they began to benchmark the series. For the years to come, this is how KoF would handle and look. Granted, there are some changes here and there, but you get the real feel of The King of Fighters in 1996.
As always, the features of the NeoGeo Station are all here: manual saves anytime during play, ability to save replays and watch them later and online network play. The online is just as smooth as all the other NeoGeo Station titles and adds so much more replayability to the game. I played a good 20 matches with different players from both the US and Japan, and the game never skipped a beat or had any lag. It’s quite impressive what SNK has done to make the NeoGeo Station really shine.
For $8.99 this is one of the better KoF games. The online works, and works very well, and the features of the NeoGeo Station really make it that much better. If you’re into fighting games, or really want to experience a good King of Fighters game, this is the one to pick up.
Review copy provided by publisher.