Review by scirocco16v
"The King of Fighters '96 + 4 bonus games!"
As we see more and more collections and compilations making their way to the PS2 at the end of it's lifespan, it's always nice to know that there's a large catalog of games from the Neo-Geo coming our way. Thanks to the support of SNK-Playmore we're seeing all of those titles we've been missing in our collections for years....well....those who don't own an Neo-Geo anyway. Not to mention, we're paying less than $20 per compilation. Many complain that KoF '94 is already on the SNK Classics V.1 and that KoF '98 is coming soon in the form of KoF '98 Ultimate but the meat of this compilation is neither of these titles. In fact those two are simply bonuses for the US market as the original release of this collection was only '95, '96 and '97, which is truly the Orochi saga. So.....on to why I'm pleased with the use of my $20 bill...
Now I can't say that these games look amazing. In fact, many haven't aged well. Especially '94 and '95. Thankfully, '96, '97 and '98 all look great. After playing KoF '99 Dream Match for the Dreamcast, I think the backgrounds of '98 look dated because we can compare it to a revamped 3-D look. But that aside, '96 and '97 are graphically arcade perfect. There are however a few minor glitches here and there. For example, in KoF '95, the load screen has a blank box in the upper right corner where it normally says "press start" for player 2. If this level of flaw is a deal breaker for you, this could certainly hurt the overall package as it isn't absolutely perfect. I simply don't see it as a fatal flaw as the game's performance is in no way hindered.
This is a series that's really hit or miss with the music. Undoubtedly the best, KoF '96 has, in my opinion, the definitive KoF soundtrack. KoF '95 is a mixed bag, '94 is crap, '97's music is sparse and forgettable while '98 is a dream match title with music mostly taken from '96. The tunes in the games are spot on from their arcade counterparts. Though there is an unlockable arranged soundtrack, it's not available in game and thus is for hardcore game music fans only. This may be a disappointment for some, though I prefer the original soundtrack, not only for it's instrumentation but also nostalgia. I don't see what kept SNKP from giving the arranged soundtrack as an in-game option though. Lastly in this department there are a few gripes. During the loading screen between character select and when the match starts, the character select music keeps playing but in a broken loop (like a cd that restarts the song every 5 seconds). And though this one may sound obsessive, the intro music timing in KoF '96 is off by one half to one second, thus not timed properly with the introduction scene. Sadly, it's spot on in the other titles, I wonder why only '96 had this problem? In the sound effects department, everything is well done with the exception of when a match ends and the points are being tallied, the volume of the counter increases considerably in the last second.
The team at SNKP has always been known for tight, discriminating controls. If you are slightly off when attempting a quarter circle, you'll find yourself throwing a punch instead of a fireball. I've never had much luck with the stock PS2 controller and fighting games. Likely due the most blame is the incredibly stiff D-pad. For this title (and all fighting games on PS2) I use a Logitech wireless controller. It has a complete circle for a D-pad, not unlike those on the Sega Saturn. Were I to only use the PS2 stock controller, I'm certain I would have difficulty with special attacks. Well, that or some seriously callused thumbs. As an avid KoF player, I see no faults in the program of the control and I've always liked the timing SNKP uses.
Fun Factor: 8
Five arcade fighting games complete with a bunch of challenges that unlock bonuses such as arranged soundtracks, artwork and even secret characters, is nothing to shake a stick at. There's enough here to keep you occupied for hours, even if you only play through each game once. For two player fun, the enjoyment suddenly increases 5 fold. There's always a new character to try in your lineup and each year has a different roster often with new moves for last years fighters who return. If you like 2D fighting, this should be in your collection.
So, let's get our facts together, for the cost of less than 2 movie tickets you can have FIVE King of Fighters titles that allow you to mop the floor with your best friend. As far as portion sizes go, SNKP has done us all a service by not only offering this title stateside but also letting it go for under twenty dollars. For fighting fans or fans of the series, this is a must buy. For the casual gamer or someone interested in 2D fighting games, you can do a lot worse for a lot more money.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 11/21/08
Game Release: The King of Fighters Collection: The Orochi Saga (US, 10/28/08)
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