Review by Numan_lord
"Every great fighting game series has a beginning…"
Although SNK wasn't quite well know back in those days, the Fatal Fury series seemed to go unnoticed in the arcades of Australia. The gamers would all gather around a Street Fighter II or Mortal Kombat cabinet and start mashing away at the buttons and slipping change into the machines 24-7, while Fatal Fury was left to get dusty. For SNK to compete in the arcade gaming industry they decided to create a totally new gaming experience. The result
the first KOF was born.
Graphics: 7 / 10
Yes, yes compared to today's standards the 2D graphics in KOF'94 are quite old and washed out to be honest. But in the nineties they were absolutely gorgeous. The fully animated introduction at the start of the game announcing the KOF was damn eye catching. It almost made the game look like it was the start of a TV episode or something. The backgrounds are very stunning and full of life, set in various back streets, pubs, mansions etc around the world with many things going on. Although when you're playing the actual game it's quite hard to observe the backgrounds unless you want to get KO'ed. The characters looked brilliant and had a lot of depth to them not as much as Mortal Kombat but far more depth than those in Street Fighter or Fatal Fury. For 1994 graphics they were quite good.
Sound: 7 / 10
The background music in this game was exceptionally well presented as well. Those gamers who had played Psycho Soldier would vaguely recognize the remixed music used when you would fight Athena. This game also featured voice actors for all the different characters too, which was very unique at the time. Also each character when performing attacks would let out those grunts and groans, to show the effort of doing them. It was as if you were in a real gym. So not only was the background music worth the listen but the voice acting and sound effects also helped put icing on the cake.
Storyline: 7 / 10
Like most fighting games of the time the storyline in general was fairly brief. The KOF'94 tournament was created by none other than Rugal Bernstein yes the man who appeared in Capcom vs. SNK and was Akuma's biggest rival of that game. Rugal sent out 24 invitations to different fighters from around the world or in this case SNK's different gaming titles, to join into three teams representing a country and compete against each other. The winning team then was given the honour to fight the KOF sponsor Rugal and boy would he give you a very hard fight.
Characters: 7 / 10
Being SNK's first KOF game an all, the character roster was on the shallow side. But the thing that made KOF so unique was many of the characters in the game were from previous games all ready created by SNK in the past. Most notable included Terry, Andy and Joe from the Fatal Fury series, Ryo, Robert and Takuma from Art of Fighting and Athena and Kensou from Psycho Soldier (It should be noted that Chin was made for this game but was part of their team). Also fan favourite big-breasted Mai Shiranui made it into the cast as well as Ralf and Clark from Ikari Warriors. It was great to see so many SNK mascots rolled into one game. Then SNK also created several characters exclusive to KOF as well. The most popular who would later become the KOF mascot Kyo Kusanagi made his first debut in this game. Other characters like Heavy D, Brian Battler and Lucky would never be seen in another KOF game (excluding KOF'98) but it should be noted they weren't the best of the cast. Either way characters are a great factor of this game.
Gameplay: 8 / 10
The gold lies here. The fighting system used in KOF'94 was like a mixture of Fatal Fury and Art of Fighting with its own individuality of course. The player would have to select a team of characters (note this is the only KOF in the series were you cannot edit teams and must play the proper teams to progress) and then chose the order in which they would like to use the three. The characters would swap members if one member were to get KO'ed in a fight. Characters are able to make dashes towards the opponent and when in critical health the character can unleash a DM (Desperation Move) on their opponent dealing equally big damage to them in return when the power bar is full of course. Also a unique move is by pressing A+B the character can dodge an up coming attack (NOTE: dodge a lot during the fight with Rugal). Gameplay was a very big successor of this game, which is why so many people stopped playing Street Fighter and moved onto KOF.
Replay Value: 8 / 10
With the many teams each with their own individual endings and addictive gameplay you would be crazy not to come back and pop another coin in for another go. Also two-player mode is very fun especially when you can play against someone on the same level as you.
Overall: 7 / 10
Yep The Rugal Saga, Orochi Saga, NESTs Saga and Ash Crimson Saga all spawned from this very game. Due to the sheer amount of enjoyment people have received from KOF games world wide it should noted and appreciated that SNK has been making us these game for over a decade. For those KOF fans who have not played the original KOF I say find an arcade machine or buy it on NeoGeo or even as part of the SNK Classics collection on PS2. You won't regret this gem of a fighting game. Remember it all started here!
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 10/02/09, Updated 11/30/10
Game Release: The King of Fighters '94 (US, 12/31/94)
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