Thursday, March 22, 2012

The King of Fighters 2000 Review

In a very, very unfortunate turn of events, video game developer SNK 2703940filed for bankruptcy earlier this year. The company had made a name for itself with its long-lived arcade platform, the NeoGeo, and its excellent games, especially its 2D fighting games. SNK's most popular fighting game series to date is The King of Fighters, a series that lets you play a team of three fighters that you choose from a roster of both original characters and the stars of some of SNK's other games, such as Fatal Fury and Art of Fighting. The King of Fighters 2000 is the latest edition of SNK's popular fighting series and is apparently the last KOF game that SNK will develop. And while it may not be the last great NeoGeo game, it's certainly one of the last pretty good ones.

KOF 2000 refines and improves just about everything from the previous game, KOF '99. Then again, KOF '99 had plenty of room for improvement, since it had far fewer options and fewer playable characters than its predecessor. For instance, KOF 2000 features the same major gameplay systems as those of the previous game, including armor mode and counter mode; the former enables your character to move and fight without reeling backward when hit, while the latter lets you perform unlimited superattacks, as well as cancel certain special attacks into superattacks, respectively. And KOF 2000 also features KOF '99's "striker" system--the ability to call an offscreen striker character to leap in and attack your opponent briefly--which greatly resembles the "tag-ins" from Capcom's Marvel fighting game series. However, KOF 2000's striker system is actually slightly more developed; the game has a few more useful setups you can use with specific striker characters, as well as a standard juggle attack you can set up with any striker after you perform a basic throw attack. What's more, KOF 2000 has a huge number of strikers--more than 70 in all. And that's because you can choose any of the game's 35 playable characters as a striker; plus, each playable character will give you the option to choose an alternate striker instead. Many of these alternate strikers are extremely interesting, as they appeared in either older KOF games or in completely different games. For instance, you might recruit the breakdancer Duck King from the Fatal Fury fighting series, Fio from the Metal Slug side-scrolling NeoGeo action games, or one of many others. Some of these alternate strikers will likely seem obscure to you unless you've been a fan of SNK's NeoGeo games for some years, though if you have been a fan, you'll probably appreciate the references. But regardless of whether you've followed the NeoGeo for seven days or seven years, you'll probably be at least a little annoyed at the fact that you can't actually play as some of the game's alternate striker characters. It's especially perplexing that many of them--including Vice, Mature, Eiji, Billy, and Yamazaki--have the same exact character sprites and animations they had when they were playable characters in previous games, yet they're available only as strikers in KOF 2000.

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