The King Of Fighters Returns
This fall, The King of Fighters XIII is finally coming to home consoles. After King of Fighters XII had a very poor reception due to a limited character roster and feature set, KOF XIII is here to show us that the SNK classic isn’t dead yet. So far, it looks like it succeeds.
KOF XIII has been a big hit in Japanese arcades for some time now, and if you live in a few lucky places in America, you may have been able to get in a game or two at your local arcade. Still, most of the fighting game masses have not been able to get a chance to go hands-on with the game, and that’s why we are here to tell you what it’s all about.
Let’s start with the stuff that stays the same. KOF XIII still works off of the same ABCD two-punch two-kick formula that it’s always had. It’s team-on-team, three-on-three fighting, just as it’s always been, with each character retaining the life he had left from the previous round. All pretty familiar so far, right?
Now let’s talk about the meter in this game. In KOF XIII you have two meters, your plain old super meter and your Hyperdrive Meter. Your super meter can hold three stocks at first, and then upgrades to four and five as you lose characters. You can spend a stock to cancel your guard into a roll forward or back, or even into an attack.
You can also use your meter to do powered-up versions of your special moves. Doing a special move with both punches or kicks generally lets you do an EX version of the move with enhanced damage and properties, but it takes one stock. On the other hand, doing two motions before pressing a punch or kick will let you do a Desperation Move, which also takes one stock, or a Super Desperation Move, which is more powerful and takes two. Characters also have an insanely powerful move called the Neo Max Desperation Move, and this move takes three stocks and an entirely filled HD (Hyperdrive) bar.
The HD bar is separated into two sections, and you can spend a section to cancel one special move into another. You can’t use the same move twice, and moves have to scale up in strength (special to EX, EX to Desperation, Desperation to Neo Max) but this allows you to extend your combos quite a bit.
You can also go into HD mode. In HD mode your HD bar will continually drain, but any cancel that uses your HD meter only takes about ten percent of it. You can also use your Neo Max move (provided you have three stocks) at any time during HD mode, regardless of how much HD bar you have left, but doing so will end the mode and will empty your HD bar entirely. So a good HD mode combo can cancel special moves into other special moves about six times, even ending with a Neo Max. The only problem is that it’s telegraphed, so your opponent will always know when it’s coming and may just turtle up.
As of now, the roster features around thirty-four characters, including secret characters and DLC. All the fighters from KOF XII are coming back, along with some fan favorites like Mai Shiranui. All characters, except for secret characters, DLC characters, and Bosses, will be organized into teams.
Then, of course, there are all the other features the console version will give us. In addition to trials and tutorials we will also have online play, enhanced graphics, tons of other play options like survival mode and more. SNK promises its online code is better than ever, and that we will have plenty of ways to enjoy our KOF experience with our friends over the internet.
In the end, King of Fighters XIII just feels better than King of Fighters XII. Yeah, it looks and sounds better too. A lot of people complained about the shoddy graphics, lackluster stages, and limited soundtrack of KOF XII. But at the end of the day, a fighting game is sold on its gameplay, and the gameplay of KOF XIII is fast, combo driven, and leaves spectators on the edge of their seat. If you are a KOF fan, or if you are just looking for a new fighting game to play, you might want to give KOF XIII a try when it releases this October.