Review by Bladebean
"It Should have been entitled: KOF '99 A.I.Y.O.H (Arcade In Your Own Home)"
The King Of Fighters (KOF) series has been a favorite of mines. The series while not evolving all that much since its debut with KOF 94 has always had solid gameplay and good graphics despite its now underpowered hardware. Were now up to KOF 99 with KOF Evolution. And as the name implies SNK has Evolved this one much more then previous title in the series.
Players now are allowed to choose 4 characters to fight with instead of 3 as in previous KOF games. However you are only allowed to actually use 3 of these characters in combat. The 4 character is what's called a striker. Strikers are like the assist characters found in the original Marvel Vs Capcom. You can call them out a limited number of times during a fight to assist you in various way. Some striker moves are attacks while others may give you some extra power to your super bar. These strikers in my opinion add alot to the game.
As usual the character lineup has been screwed with once again. There are about 32 characters to choose from this time around. Less then the previous KOF title which I believe contained around 38. And actually the number 32 is a little on the misleading side as well. There are now 3 versions of Kyo. They all pretty much seem to play the same with a few differences. Older characters such as Hiedern, Nanakasi, Yamazaki and Heavy D are now gone. Added though are some pretty lame new characters such as this stupid looking kid called Bao, a robot called Maxima and a sort of lame new main character called K Prime. All is not lost though. They also added Li Xiang Fei from Wild Ambition who is pretty cool and has a unique play style, and a new cheesy last boss called Krizalid. However my favorite new addition is a new military team character called Whip. Whip as her name implies fights with a whip. She is not only my favorite character in the game but one of my newest favorite video game characters. Lets just hope Capcom opts to add her to a future edition of their Capcom Vs SNK series. And like in every other KOF game with the exception of 96 Geese Howard is nowhere to be found. Come on he`s one of SNK`s most popular characters and they only add him to 1 KOF title. To add insult to that they weakened him beyond belief in KOF 96. Im quite sure most players out there would much rather want to play as Geese instead of K Prime or Bao.
For play modes here you get your standard practice, survival and versus modes as well as the option to play as 4 player teams or just single 1 on 1 fights. You also earn points in the team battle when fighting the CPU. These points can be used to unlock new Extra Striker characters to be used in any mode.
10 = Best 1 = Worst
Graphics 8: Like the previous KOF title on the Dreamcast, SNK has redid the backgrounds. No longer are they flat 2D graphics but all new 3D. Don't worry 2D purist they look fantastic and much better the older backgrounds. The 3D quality of the backgrounds still isn't as good as Marvel Vs Capcom 2`s but they are much more lively then the last DC KOF game.
Character animation sadly hasn't been increased since the Neo Geo original. They still move fluid and all but nowhere close to as smooth as games like Street Fighter 3 or Guilty Gear X. Still though SNK packed alot of detail into what's here. My favorite is the pre fight animation between Andy and Mai. Mai comes out in a wedding dress holding a baby and says something in Japanese then tosses the baby over to a red faced Andy. Its really cool and the games packed full of similar encounters depending on who's fighting who.
Sound 7: Well the sound in the KOF series has taken a hit since KOF 98. The voices and sound effect all sound great as before but the music has taken a hit. The music like all past KOF games still has that anime/rock/pop sound to it but its just not as good. It just lacks the flair and catchy sound to it like it used to. And just like in KOF 98 Athena doesn't sing in her background music or ending. Come on that was sort of a KOF trademark. Who didn't love her Psycho Soldier theme?
Control 9: As always with KOF the game doesn't disappoint when it comes to control. Even on the Dreamcast pad it controls pretty much near perfect with no real problems at all. Control set up is pretty much the same as any other 2D fighter. Movements all consist of rolling and charge motions to put out special moves. If your new to 2D fighting games then it may take you a little bit to get used to things but those of you who have been there since the original SF will jump right in.
Overall KOF 99: Evolution is a great game. Sadly it could have been much better. I think the biggest hit with the disappointment is with all the characters that have been cut from 98. Still though this title remains highly playable and a great addition to your collection if your into 2D fighters. However if you never cared for the KOF series before then its doubtful this one will convert you. Unfortunately this will probably be the last KOF title released in the States as SNK is no longer producing video games. I believe 2000 came out awhile back for the Neo Geo and arcades but i`ve heard nothing about it coming out anytime soon. From what I also understand some ex KOF development team member have formed their own company and are producing KOF 2001. I`ll believe this when I see it as nothing in the gaming industry is definite.
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 09/16/01, Updated 09/16/01
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