It’s time again for SNK to do precisely what it does best, and that is release a new yearly entry to their venerable King of Fighters series. With the recent flop of Capcom’s Fighting Evolution for PS2 SNK could capitalize on the gap left in the hearts of 2-D fighting game lovers. Everything that SNK is known for is present and accounted for here in King of Fighters 2002/2003. King of Fighters 2002 seems more like a pack in for this compilation though as all the strength lies in the newer King of Fighters 2003, from slightly improved graphics to finally making the sound not as grainy as before KoF 2003 is a game that will cleanse your mouth of the bitter taste left by Capcom Fighting Evolution. The game is far from perfect but it is a change that SNK needs to do to get back in the running in the world of fighting games.
Starting off with King of Fighters 2002, there is really no reason to put this into your PS2. It’s a pack in game and it shows, everything of it smacks of KoF 2001 and it plays in almost the exact same manner. The few things you’ll find changed here is a little bit of the roster (taking out King alone made me not want to play this game, bringing back Chris, Yashiro and Shermie does not constitute new characters either), there is almost no story to speak of, all of it is conveyed very poorly by images that contain little to no frames of animation and very little variance. The sound and graphics are also sub-standard, the inclusion of 3-D backgrounds populated with the very low resolution 2-D pixels helps cut the eyes into ribbons. Pick up some earplugs for this game as well as the sound is just unattractive on so many levels, voice samples are as low quality as ever, which appears to have finally run its course. Balance is also severely lacking thanks to bringing back an even more super-powered Rugal as the final boss.
Now that the bash-fest is over let’s go over to the much more attractive piece of this game. King of Fighters 2003. First of all a new story arc is present, involving the new character Crimson Ash that leans towards the Orochi line of the story, but. Two other new characters also enter the fray, Shen who’s just a straight up brawler, and Duolon, the cheapest inclusion to the KoF series. Duolon reeks of unbalance and is a powerful new addition to the King of Fighters series. There are also a few blast from the past characters which include Chizuru and Maki and a variant of Kyo in Kusanagi form. Chizuru and Maki also do a great job of destroying all the balance of the game. You’ve also got Tizoc, and Gato from Garou: Mark of the Wolves and a new female fighter Malin who will kind of remind players of Bridget from Guilty Gear and I don’t mean that in an effeminate looking boy dressing like a girl kind of way. I welcome a lot of the new characters but they’ve removed Kula one of my favorite characters in the series from this game making this year’s roster a little sour for me.
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