The King of Fighters XII Review

The King of Fighters (KOF) series first debuted back in 1994. Even though the changes to each new installment haven't ever been really major, this three on three fighting franchise has had a hardcore fan following for the past few years and I have to admit that I got addicted to the series starting with KOF '98. The overall character lineup, familiar faces, and slight gameplay enhancements continue to draw me back into each new installment. Each game in the series has been notorious for using the same reoccurring character sprites for each new installment. At one time, KOF tried to go 3-D with KOF Maximum Impact but the action didn't feel the same in a 3-D format.

King of Fighters XII attempts to breathe new life into the series with its overall new look while returning to a 2-D format. No longer does SNK use the same character sprites from several years ago. If you've kept up with the King of Fighters series since it's debut back in 1994 then you'll know that the majority of the characters in the series have all had the same basic look ever since the first game that they appeared in. Iori Yagami has had the same basic look ever since his KOF '94 appearance in the majority of the past KOF games.

All character sprites in KOF XII have been completely redrawn and they look rather well in high definition. The sprites are now more reminiscent of the ones that were used in Capcom vs SNK. The characters have more detail and more animation in their movements. There is some pixelation that is present in the sprites but it is not as noticeable if the graphics filter is used to filter the graphic display a bit. Stages are presented in 3-D with hand drawn animation. The fighters blend well with the background and don't stick out that much like in some previous KOF's. There are only five stages in the entire game (arguably six, if you count nighttime on one stage).

Players still select a team of three fighters from the character roster while preparing to battle against each other. All King of Fighters are known for having a huge character roster of returning and a few new characters. KOF XII has a total of 22 characters. There are many returning characters and a few new faces. Kyo and Iori still make the usual appearance along with Terry, Andy, Joe, Kim, Kensou, Athena, Ralph, Clark, Leona, Mature, Ryo and many others. I was kind of disappointed in not seeing some of the characters that almost always make an appearance since they're debut though. Where is King, Mai, K', Maxima, Yuri, Geese, Rock and a few other familiar faces? It would have been nice to see Rugal in some form as well considering his connection to the KOF series.

Some characters have been changed quite a bit with different move sets. I was expecting to pick Iori and jump into the game with his familiar fireball and uppercut reminiscent of Kyo, but Iori's move set has changed quite a bit. He has all the same basic moves and movements that he has always had but now he has only short and mid-range special moves. His similarities to Kyo are now gone and you basically have to relearn him now much like a Jin Kazama transformation in Tekken 4, though not quite that bad since Iori does carry his same basic moves and the same super move.