Review by ZMetatron

"Games like this are the reason I'll miss SNK."

While the following sentence is sure to tick off some Capcom fanboys, I feel it must be said. SNK makes the best fighters ever. KoF 99: Evolution and Dream Match 99 are proof of that. I’d love to rant about the two, but I need to get on with the review.

First off, some of you who don’t follow SNK that closely may be confused by my comment up there, where I refer to both Dream Match and Evolution as the ‘99 version. I’ll explain that. Evolution is King of Fighters ‘99, Dream Match is ‘98 under a different name. Just though I’d clear that up.

Evolution takes KoF in a new direction, namely the Striker battle. Strikers are fourth team members which come in and do an attack (such as Takuma’s Haoh Shi Koh Ken) when you hit the aptly-named Striker button. The fighting itself is still three-on-three, and all the old mechanics are still there (rolling, supers powered up when your character is low on health, etc.), so SNK purists have nothing to complain about. On with the scores:

Graphics: 9/10. There’s been a great improvement here over Dream Match, which had 3D backgrounds which looked great on average, but were incredibly pixilated in places. This game takes care of that, with little pixilation in the backgrounds. The characters are still fluidly animated, and some (like Whip and Blue Mary) change stances after idling for a few seconds. So where does this game lose the point? Well, while I’m not one to whine about this, the game really could have been touched up for DC. The characters are still kind of pixelated, and on some backgrounds, it looks as if their feet aren’t touching the ground (from the position of their shadows in comparison to their feet, it looks like they’re about an inch off the ground). Had it been fixed up a little, this game would have looked perfect.

Sound: 10/10. This is where SNK really beats the competition. First off, the voices are top-notch and match the character (although Leona sounds a bit high-pitched in some of her moves). The music is just great, especially Iori’s music and Athena’s team theme. The downside is that there’s one theme for each team of four people, with the five single entries each getting their own background music, except Kyo Clones 1 and 2, which have the same music. But still, the music is excellent, regardless of how much there is.

Control: 10/10. The Dreamcast controller works perfectly in this game, as there are four buttons on the controller and four attack buttons in the game. The L and R triggers are used for taunting and calling the Striker. Rolling is pulled off by hitting the Weak punch and Weak kick buttons, like in Dream Match, and all the moves are basically the same old commands that we’re all used to.

Gameplay: 10/10. I’m in shock here. The story involves a cartel cloning Kyo Kusanagi, the series’ main character, and using his clones to take over the world. Two of these clones in addition to Kyo himself are in the game, and yet they all play differently to an extent. (Not entirely differently. Think of the clones as seperate characters and Kyo as a combination of the two.) Capcom doesn’t even make their characters clones storywise and yet they still play alike (Ryu, Ken, Akuma, Evil Ryu, Shin Akuma). (NOTE: I am not anti-Capcom, I love their games, but it’s the truth.) In fact, none of the 30-something characters play alike, though Ryo/Robert/Yuri/Takuma (the Kyokugen team) do share some moves with each other, and Iori/Kyo Clone-1 both have Dark Thrust (the ground projectile). But that’s it. Everyone is their own character here, all the way down to their Striker attacks.

In addition to using whatever playable character you want as a Striker, there are also eight Extra Strikers, which are not playable. Six of these you have to unlock via the ol’ points system, and those six can be powered up by spending more points on them (i.e. buying one for 800 points, then powering them up for 1200). Like in Capcom vs. SNK, you get points depending on how well you play, and your point total moves up and down as you play through arcade mode.

Finally, in addition to the basic three-on-three and one-on-one arcade/versus modes, there is also a training mode with all the basic features, two survival modes (endless and time attack), and a single mode where you fight everyone in the game one at a time.

Story:10/10. This is a KoF game, so that means it’s got a good story. And in a fighting game, a good story is a rarity. While I explained some of it at the beginning of the gameplay section, there’s a separate ending for each of the teams, and a few of those reveal more plot.

Replay: Well, it’s a fighter. And thanks to the versus mode, all fighters have replay. In addition to that, this has all the different endings as well as the extra Strikers to unlock, so you’ll be playing for awhile.

Well, I usually don’t bother with this, but what the heck? Rent if you’re not a huge fighting game player to see if you like it (you will), or if you play mostly 3D fighters and have little 2D fighting experience. Buy it if you like 2D fighters. Steer clear if you’re anti-SNK.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 04/20/01, Updated 04/20/01

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