Review by Shirow
"Doesn't quite manage to top '98"
You've probably already heard of ''The King of Fighters''. This beat-em-up by SNK has always been considered as SNK's main title and Capcom's Street Fighter main rival. KoF 99 has been considered as the most innovative in the series with the introduction of the Striker system and the 2 modes: Counter Mode and Armor Mode. New characters have been added and on the whole, there have been major changes as the teams now consist of 4 characters, the fourth one being your striker.
5 new characters have been added to this new edition: Maxima, Jhun, Fatal Fury's Xiang-Fei, Bao, and soon to be the most popular character of KoF K' and also the return of Kasumi Todoh. SNK has also abandoned the Extra and Advance modes present in 97 and 98 to give way to 2 better modes known as Counter and Armor mode. Both modes require you to have a full stock of specials in order to use them. Basically, Counter modes enables you to use as many desperation moves as you want during a limited time of about 10-15 seconds.
Your moves also take out much more damage and you can't perform super desperation moves while you are in Counter Mode. However, this modes also allows you to pull out certain combos which you cannot perform normally. Armor Mode makes you take less damage from attacks and you can even break loose from combos. It lasts for a much smaller time though. The main addition to The King of Fighters remains of course the Striker System.
This enables you to choose a fourth character which you can call while you're fighting and that character will perform a move or hold your opponent for you giving you time to pull out a combo. In addition, some characters perform different moves depending on their distance from your opponent. More people now seem to be playing KoF for these reasons and all this can just make you feel that this game is great.
King of Fighters is a 2-D game. So, the graphics are quite decent. There has been a lot of improvement over KoF 98. Similarly, more detail has been put in the background and each stage has been well done. In addition, there's a changing element on each stage such as the rain which starts out slow and gradually evolves. The characters are prior to SNK's habits with a lot of details in their appearance and their expressions. Also ,check out Kyo's new outfit which is a major improvement over the series. Other characters like Robert have been completely changes and they alsolook better now.
...KoF control...which means great. KoF wouldn't have been what it was if the control hadn't been great. Those who have played 97 and 98 would know that this game requires a good control with a lot of importance being accorded to these devastating combos. No problem here!
The best point about this game. KoF 98's soundtrack was great where Kyo's theme, Esaka, stood out! KoF 99's soundtrack is even better than far. Tears, World War 3, even a remix of Esaka which is too great for words! I really like the music in KoF 99, every single theme!!! I really think this game possesses one of the best soundtracks for beat-em-ups...SNK has surpassed itself here!
Sound effects: 8
Again, great... Not quite perfect but they go well with the game! The voices are cool, specially Terry's and Shingo's. Also, when the players cry out when they perform their moves and desperation moves, the voices are still great and well-timed!
The gameplay is one of the finest I have met in a beat-em-up! The amount of combos you can perform will keep you on this game for a long time. Most probably, you will try to learn all the combos and that's where the Counter Mode shows its strength!!! This mode allows you to perform deadly combos which you cannot usually do...
I'm sure once you've seen the computer use Robert and perform one of these, you'll just stare at your screen in confusion. And once you've recovered, like me, you'll make it a point to learn all the comboes. And the game is such fun when you're a bunch of friends trying to kick each other's ass in every possible way! With the huge number of characters available, you're in for a good time.
KOF 99 is, without doubt, a fine addition to the series. SNK has created a very innovative game by inserting in it the strikers and the 2 new modes. And adding this to all the characteristics of the KOF series makes '99 a must for the fans of the series. Even if you haven't played KOF before, be sure to try this one. It offers a distinctive gameplay which will keep you hooked on for weeks.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 03/27/01, Updated 11/09/02
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