Review by VanillaThunder

"This is the KING of fighters?"

When I first got my Neo, I tried shopping around for some systems that bundled some 'really great' games with it and I managed to find one that packaged KOF '98 with it. I thought I was getting a tremendous deal on it. I can't say I was totally pleased.

Graphics -- 5.5

While being a tech junkie/professional/addict, I've come to expect a lot from hardware. I do however, have an appreciation for the how-much-you-could-do-with-so-little mentality. KOF just doesn't do it for me. While the match intros are really interesting in their uniqueness between characters, this looks like nothing more than a SF:CE rehash with some extra sprites and animations. Yeah, there's a TON of characters, but their designs just aren't exciting. They would've been stellar in '92-'94 but if you're designing on a system for about 10 years, you should have a bag of tricks to pull stuff out of. There are some certain cool little things they did, but the game just isn't exciting. They traded characters for stages and animations, which is a definite no-no

Sound -- 7

Ok, going against popular opinion yet again. I dig the music for a while. Granted I threw on a burned CD after a while, but this game has a ton of good sound in it. The intro for the game is spectacular for sound, I find myself doing the mini-rap thing while playing that they have in the beginning. It's good and unique. Sounds great on my surround sound. This they got right.

The stages, though since there's so few gets repetitive.

Control -- 5

Ok, let the flaming begin. This game stinks. Ok, maybe not THAT bad. I was aware of the KOF series and the FF series in my youth. I heard SO MUCH buzz about it, I had to have this game. It's sluggish at times and unresponsive. My two fav fighting games are Killer Instinct and the Tekken series.. how does that apply? When I want something to happen and I know the motion... IT HAPPENS. People call this 'tight'. I like a fighting game because when I want to do something, it happens. Doing the 'standard' fighting motions five times to get a fireball to fire or whatever isn't tight.. it's TERRIBLE. I have all very good Neo hardware, so it isn't that. I had my very good friend play this with me who has never seen a Neo before and his comment was ''A fighting game should do what you want WHEN you want it.'' I can't agree more. Controls should be for ease of use, not challenging your finger dexterity and timing. That challenge should apply to going against your opponent.

Gameplay -- 4.5

Yeah, I'm going to dog this game.

The characters are boring. (A fighting Basketball player who throws basketballs as a PROJECTILE? HA! A neo-road warrior football player? HA! THE AOF TEAM? HA! And those are the worst of the mundane characters) Some of them are REALLY original though and shine through. (Heidern, Iori, Chang, Rugal, the capoeira guy who's name escapes me, Heavy D!, Kim Kaphwan, Goro Daimon) It could do without about 10 of them. Invest that into a decent A.I. Really, people... it's that bad. Granted, I will give it the thumbs up for story as this series is deeper in story than most RPG's. The game just doesn't excite me. I'm a fighter addict. 85% of my library is fighting games. They are like CRACK to me. This game just didn't have me coming back for more. Yeah, I still pick it up and play. (I spent enough on it) I use this for a break from other fighters. My Tekken 2 coin-op gets more praise from me right now than this does.

Here's the problem. I mowed through the competition. Absolutely. Keep in mind I'm not too good at the special moves in this game. I just leveled them. Heidern, Billy Kane, and (insert 3rd character here, usually Goro Daimon) and I was able to just destroy the A.I.

Now, SNK syndrome strikes!

Omega Rugal may be the cheapest, overpowered, frustrating and ridiculously one dimensional boss ever.... EVER!!!!

Read that again, I don't think it sunk in.

Let me give you a rundown of the 'typical' Omega Rugal match.

Back up, fire his white globe thingy at you. Do it again. If you come near him, his rising double leg kick. White globe thingy again. Repeat until you're dead.

Oh, once in a while he does this stupid teleport thingy through you that goes for 6 or so hits. Die.

That's it.

People say that ''this is a challenge.'' I say that the A.I is cheap and repetitive.

I like my boss to be good in EVERY aspect of the game. BEAT ME AT MY OWN GAME. Your boss should make you better against other players. Not come up with a repetitive rhythm that you need to use to win. (HINT: Heidern's neck snapper when the globe just leaves O.Rugal's body. Guaranteed damage.)

Let me repeat that. THE BOSS SHOULD MAKE YOU A BETTER PLAYER AND HAPPY WHEN YOU PREVAIL. I just threw my controller when I won and wanted to stamp on it.

In a perfect world when I win it's because of these things:

1. I break the A.I.'s combos and combo them better.
2. I figure out the A.I.'s thinking and beat them.
3. The A.I. gets better in the later rounds to compensate. (It learns and adapts)
4. I can do the moves easily and the gameplay is shifted from 'Can I do this move when I need to?'' to ''Should I do this move when I think I need to?''

IN KOF it because of these things:

1. I get cheap. Cheaper than the A.I.
2. The controls actually do what I want, when I want.
3. The computer lightens up on the endless assault of cheesy specials.
4. Threatening my Neo with harm.

All in all... it's not a BAD fighting game. It's just TREMENDOUSLY over hyped. Really.. Don't buy this game if you want to be blown away. It's a bit dated. Yeah, it's entertaining in short bursts, but if you want a really good, challenging, entertaining fighter... move along, nothing to see here. Don't get me wrong, I kinda like it. Really. It's just not the uber-fighting game you should die for.

For the price it's going for, you should go invest in a copy of RB:FFS, Last Blade 2, SamSho4 or even a Dreamcast and about 5 really great games.

I guess it's an acquired taste, but be forewarned... so is Drano...(both leave you feeling hollow inside.)

Reviewer's Rating:   2.5 - Playable

Originally Posted: 05/21/02, Updated 05/21/02

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