Review by Undead Fred
"More of the same, but it's still got life."
SNK gives us fans more KOF to enjoy, but this time they've done a better job with presentation. They have added much more dynamic graphic design and character art to the menu screens, as well as a striker feature. I'm still not sure if I like the striker idea or not, but it's definitely not a bad idea. If you are a big SNK fan, you'd definitely want to pick up a copy. If you like the KOF series, then at least rent it... it's worth taking a look at it.
I think the graphics (like in most of SNK's games) are not the strongest point of the game. I'm a big fan of SNK's games, but I've only really been moved by the graphics of a few of their games (Samurai Shodown 3 and 4, Metal Slug...). That's not to say that the graphics suck or anything, but they're definitely not the strongest point of this game. They do have some cool things going for them, though. The animations are very good and very smooth. The quick motions have great blur motion, and the motions in general are very nice. The graphic design of the menus have been greatly improved, making them a lot more dynamic than the old games. I also appreciated the move away from the stiffer old character art in the select screens and win pose screens to much better Capcom-ish art. It also has better resolution that what I saw from the arcade version, as well as 3D versions of the arcade backgrounds. Definitely the best of the KOF games in terms of graphics.
The gameplay is as good as it has always been. The dodge is a little different, but still good. The character order selection is a lot less confusing than the arcade version, reducing it to a simpler ''choose which one goes next by highlighting them and hitting A.'' As far as the actual fighting goes, I can't really think of any time the computer has resorted to the strategy of those 8-year-olds that can't do anything more than just throw a constant stream of fireballs or do the cheap little ''jumpkick-in-sweep-axe-kick-repeat'' combo. Except for Krizalid and sometimes Clark, the computer is rarely cheap (unless you count getting ruthlessly beat down now and then as cheap... sometimes it is cheap that way). As usual, the final boss is way too hard because he is WAY TOO CHEAP! Other than him, the rest of the characters are pretty well-balanced and have their own strengths and weaknesses. As always, the character designs are very cool and interesting with unique moves and supers.
The sound is all-right, with decent quality sounds from the fighters and traditional Japanese metal (you know, those long, rambling 80's metal guitar solos...). The voice acting is well done (well, I don't have a clue what they're saying, but they sound convincing to me...). The sound effects of fists smacking flesh and heads hitting concrete are pretty good and sound very much like those found in just about every anime. The sound quality is definitely better than what I've heard from the arcade version, but it's nothing that really stands out.
Replay value- 5/10
I guess the reason behind the average score here may just be because I have played the arcade version quite a bit before I had it on Dreamcast. The thing that keeps me coming back to play it now is the new characters and the new graphic design style in this version. I still enjoy the characters' style and the feeling you get when you catch your opponent with K's fire loop after you kick it at them and then going into a combo of special moves that take a decent amount of skill to even execute. Unfortunately, the Extra Striker option relies on an insane amount of replay value to get all of the extra strikers. Unlike Capcom VS. SNK, you're not spending all kinds of time running up ridiculous amounts of points to get new colors, modes, and new playable characters, but just to get a character you really wished you could play as to jump in and throw a big punch or whatever and then leave. That's not cool. Especially since one of the extra strikers is my favorite SNK character (or at least one of my top favorites), Yamazaki. I usually get such an urge to actually get to play as him that I take Evolution out and put in KOF Dream Match 99 and I get to use Yamazaki (and Vice to boot). I've also heard how to get the secret strikers, which involves an evil amount of hours on the game timer and some sort of over-elaborate code at the select screen. Features like that don't give the game replay value, it just really pisses off the player that actually wants to use the new strikers.
Overall, aside from a few things here and there, I like this game. I'm a big KOF fan, but I would have liked a few more extras to this game aside from the new strikers. Maybe if they would have hidden the three ''new'' characters that weren't in the arcade, that would have made playing with them a little more rewarding. It's definitely worth your time to at least try the game, especially if you are a fan and hadn't played it yet. If you enjoy SNK's characters as much as I do, then definitely get this game to enjoy the new and old characters and their cool new moves.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 09/22/01, Updated 09/22/01
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