|System: PS2||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: SNK Playmore||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Ignition Entertainment||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Feb. 27, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
The gameplay options include Arcade, Single Play, Endless, and Practice. The Arcade mode is based on the traditional 3-vs-3 KoF formula, which you can play either against CPU characters or a friend. In Single Play, you choose only one fighter, and whoever wins two rounds first wins the match. We were a bit confused by the Endless mode, as losing causes the game to come to an abrupt end, but its basically a quick-play option of 1-vs-1 matches against the A.I. Unfortunately, the game doesnt seem to allow you to back out of free-play matches, so anytime you want to return to the main menu, youll be forced to hit the reset button on the PS2.
There are a few extras as well, including artwork and movies. The package also comes with a bonus disc, which offers wallpapers and promo videos. The art is definitely a nice addition that fans of the series will likely savor, but the bonus disc seemingly intended solely for PC usage offers no auto-run feature or menu, so youll have to dig around inside the disc folders to find what youre looking for.
On the production front, KoF98 still looks pretty good. The backgrounds are very detailed and attractive, though the character models havent aged all that gracefully. Fighters animate with too few frames to truly hold their own among todays other fighting contenders, but the visuals have no adverse effect on gameplay. This is coming strictly from someone who appreciates the notion of out with the old, in with the new, so fans of old-school fighters, in general, will still likely enjoy pressing the virtual-rewind button when sitting down to play this game. Theres even an option to set the menu screen to the original Neo Geo presentation, and if youre looking for a true arcade experience, its offered here in all its glory.
The real retro star of Ultimate Match, however, is the aural presentation. There are a ton of great themes and sound effects that will surely tap into a fans sense of nostalgia. Each character offers their own set of voice murmurs and gravelly grunts, and the announcer speaks in her original Engrish from the Japanese-arcade version which is undeniably charming.
King of Fighters 㥪: Ultimate Match is a solid fighter for hardcore fans looking to either complete their collection or relive a bit of the past. But we have to ask even at $20 is it worth it? Theres no online gameplay, and its a product that likely could have been easily offered as a downloadable game for $10 on any of the three current-gen consoles. The bonus disc doesnt add much to the pot, though the overall presentation of the package is still quite nice (fully colored manual, tons of art and movies, etc.) If PS2 is your only console option and youre looking for another decent fighter, Ultimate Match is a respectable contender worthy of consideration. Just keep in mind this is a retro affair aimed at a fairly specific audience.
CCC Freelance Writer