Review by Kusanagi88

Reviewed: 11/11/03

The King of Fighters continues with another Dream Match

Four years prior to The King of Fighters 2002 was The King of Fighters 98. KOF98 featured a Dream Match as to mark the end of the Orochi Saga and transition to the NESTS Saga. And now SNKPlaymore has produced KOF98's successor in KOF2002. Now to mark the end of the NESTS saga and advancing to the next, KOF2002's Dream Match features an updated roster of characters and the return of some former favorites such as the Orochi Team.

The King of Fighters main gameplay has remained since its roots. But compared to the past, 2002 features a greater challenging gameplay. Aside from the greater challenge is the system induced into the game. The MAX Mode system from 98 has returned with a new addition of move cancels. Now you can cancel a select amount of moves to extend your combos in the game. As in 98 the MAX Mode allows you to use SDMs however, unlike 98, 2002 as with 2001 and 2000 certain DMs become SDMs. The DMs don't stop there, this time Hidden SDMs (HSDMs) have been included. Every character has a HSDM which delivers quite alot of damage some waging 3/4's of a Lifebar. Now enough about the MAX Mode and SDM, the real deal is the fighting. And who you fight can now be determined before battle. This time you can choose 1 out of 2 opponents to battle against. This really puts your abilities to the test depending on who you fight. Characters like Andy and K' will give you a hard time as they are persuing you throughout the battle. Others like Yamazaki and Chang will wostly wait for attacks before they beat you down. Since the challenge in 2002 is greater you'll have a hard time even against a single person.

Since this is a Dream Match theres no storyline featured. But the way the game flows is just how you cruise through the game in the past games. In this you go the five opponents out of ten choices in the first five stages. The sixth stage you will fight either Kula, K9999, or Angel depending on your performance. The seventh opponent will be a set oppenent as you can't choose who you'll face next. The finally the boss opponent who is none other than our old pal Rugal Bernstein. As stated before KOF2002 has no storyline but has an ending as if there was one.

The King of Fighters 2002 is on top of its days. Still being produced on MVS hardware, KOF2002 pushes its graphics to the highest it can. All the characters are as well designed as their previous appearances. Some character have new animations like Kim and Vice. And others has remained the same as they have over the years. But still 2002 runs alot smoother than its predecessors and you'll come to appreciate what it still has to keep it going. As mentioned above the game featured HSDMs whic contain a great deal of animations to make. There's a flowing blue background with a yellow flash on execution, similiar to effects K9999's Power is...losing control...UWAH!!! Not all the HSDMs feature this background. Iori's HSDM features a blood red background and Orochi Chris' Sanagi wo Yaburi Chou wa Mau features Orochi's Bright Light. Those were the few.

One thing that The King of Fighters is most known for is its music. As an improvement over 2001's Techno-ish form that every one hated a quite alot. 2002 pulls of a 98 again with bringing back ''The Greatest Hits'' of The King of Fighters. All of the old favorites have been arranged but some seem nothing compared to their originals. Fans should be pleased with the songs that have been used again. Songs like Tears and Psycho Soldier are definitely song recommendations for those who are interested in the game' music. KOF is not just about their music the Sound Effects in the game sound more or less the same. But alot of the sounds seem redone to keep up with the times. While its still fun to hear the sounds of our favorite attacks. Some of the sounds just seem alittle out of place. An example is Kyo and Orochi Chris' Orochi Nagi, they're the same attack one sounds better than the other. Kyo's Orochi Nagi was more effective explosion sound and Orochi Chris' Orochi Nagi sounds more faded and harder to hear. But thats just one little tidbit.

Being the Dream Match it is today, you can reassure yourself that you will be coming back for more. The game itself is fun fighting against challenging CPU opponents a high difficulty level to test your abilities. But the truth of the fighting is in the VS Mode. See who's better amongst your friends in playing VS Mode with your best characters. Either that or play the Arcade Version against a person who is just as skilled as you maybe even more. Its true a player wants to see how good they are at a game by playing against a better player. And that can happen considering how fun KOF is.

Now now now overall The King of Fighters 2002 is a great edition to The King of Fighters Series. Those who are still into 2D fighting games should play The King of Fighters 2002. And veterans of the KOF series would incomplete without this game in their collection. This game has its good points and bad points but is still a great game. And a lot would say ''Long live 2D!!!''. KOF2002 is another reason to still say that today.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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