King of Fighters 2002/2003


posted 10/14/2005 by Cyril Lachel
other articles by Cyril Lachel
One Page Platforms: Xbox

The good news for those who hate this game play revision is that you are able to go back to the old school method.  Heck, if you want to, both games allow you to take your battles down to the one-on-one style that resembles almost every other fighting game on the market.  With 35 characters and plenty of ways to play the game, it’s hard to be too upset with SNK about this 2003 edition.

Both games feature incredible backgrounds, the type that you rarely see outside of 2D fighting games.  The best part of SNK’s backgrounds is how they detail them for different times of the day, so round two will be later in the day than round one, and round three will often be at night.  There are a lot of fun details for each background, not to mention plenty of cameos from other SNK characters.  2003’s arenas tend to have more going on, including a few that are moving (such as a dramatic battle on a train).  The characters may not have improved much in the series 8 installments, but the backgrounds sure have become more exciting.  With dozens of different levels between the two games you won’t soon bore of the same level over and over.

Since these two games are packaged together you would expect them to feature similar Xbox Live experiences, but SNK decided to go a different route.  When it comes to King of Fighter 2002 you can frequent a lobby and check your stats.  The 2003 edition also features the stats (as well as the other basic ways of locating a game, friends, etc.), but instead of a lobby you get a Competition mode.  This mode allows you to take part in a multi-player tournament that is set up for a specific time and must be registered for.  This is a great addition I hope other online fighters use in the future.  Unfortunately this mode is not available in the 2002 edition, which features quite a few more characters to play with.

Although I ran into some lag in my online battles, it was a pleasant time for the most part.  One complaint is that the game has a tendency to simply spit you out to the lobby when you’re done with your fight, which can be kind of frustrating when you’re ready for a rematch.  Most people will be able to work around the few online hiccups without too much trouble, but it would be nice if SNK would get around to making a fully functional online experience that doesn’t contain these simple problems.

Besides the various arcade modes and the Xbox Live function, both games manage to offer some extra content.  Beyond the usual art galleries you will find a few different challenge modes, a few of which may hold your attention for ten or fifteen minutes before you move back to the standard arcade battles.  By all accounts these two games are pretty bare bones, but considering that most people have never played them, the amount of the extras hardly seems important.

If you’ve ever thought about picking up a King of Fighters game this 2002/2003 set is a great place to start.  Chances are you’re not going to find another SNK collection with this much diversity.  They may not look as good as the 3D fighters of today, but both King of Fighters 2002 and 2003 are fantastic fighting games with a deep roster of unique characters to choose from. 

The King of Fighters 2002/2003 may not look as good as Soul Calibur or Dead or Alive, but with it’s cast of nearly 50 characters and deep fighting mechanics it’s just as easy to get addicted to. SNK has managed to release a collection that is not only a good bargain but also features two diverse experiences, something you don’t usually say about SNK’s fighting games.

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