Review: I could easily make some crack about Mai and her bouncing breasts but I just don't have it in me
When it comes to 2D fighters, you're either a Capcom fan or an SNK supporter. There is no middle ground, it's like a religion. Now I played some Fatal Fury in my day on the Super NES and I liked it a lot. Jumping back and forth between the foreground and the background was a radical new technique in fighting games. But it was always just a placeholder while my friends and I waited for the next Mega Hyper Super Deluxe edition of Street Fighter II.
With this two-pack, SNK has rolled out the latest ?yearly? releases of the popular King of Fighters series. For those new to the series, these two releases may be a decent jumping in point as SNK has removed almost all of the convoluted fighting tricks that fans were getting sick of from the previous versions. KOF 2002 and 2003 is mostly straight 2D fighting with combos, fire tossing and button mashing. Ah the good old days.
KOF 2002 is an Ultimate Battle collection that brings together as many former KOF characters as SNK can muster up. 2002 is actually the final King of Fighters in the eyes of SNK (one of the stages features a banner that says ?Final King of Fighters?) as they rebooted the storyline with 2003.
Among the game's 44 fighters is your standard complement of androgynous anime-style waifs (male and female), hyper sexualized Japanese schoolgirl fighting machines, a Mr. T lookalike named Seth, a mini-Freddy Krueger, various Ken and Ryu clones and series staples like the bouncing breasts of Mai and baseball cap wearing Terry. There was actually fan outcry over previous versions of KOF for toning down Mai's jiggling (which look like the eyes of a cat following a tennis ball in old Looney Tunes shorts, up and down, up and down). But those of the purist mindset should be happy to know that Mai's movements are all intact. But really, all of the characters start running together after a while.
All of the fighters and backgrounds are strictly 2D and some of the sprites look like they've been gathering dust for the last five years. It's not a pretty fight at times. While the sprites may be rough around the edges, the control feels just as bad. It doesn't feel fluid at times and any fan of 2D fighters should know that a fighter must feel quick and responsive to be good. KOF 2002 drops the ball at times. Aurally, all of the voice acting is in the original Japanese, which I guess is good if you're a KOF purist, but me, I'd rather understand what everybody was saying.
There are plenty of modes including 1-on-1, Challenge and KOF staple 3-on-3, but it just feels like a chore at times. At least with the game's unlimited continues you'll be able to play the impossible ending boss over and over again. That'll be some good times right? Eh, let's see what KOF 2003 has to offer.
KOF 2003 feels like a more polished game all around. The backgrounds are better, even sporting some fancy 3D effects. Spinning, flashing neon signs in the heart of Tokyo and standing on a speeding train as it zips through the city are just two of the better stages. The characters look better too, more detail and they move with more fluid movement. The controls are a notch above because of this as well.
KOF 2003 reboots the series' storyline (but again, it's pretty incomprehensible with all the Japanese) and includes 35 characters. Many of them are said to be new, but damned if I can tell which ones are new and which ones aren't.
KOF 2003 returns all of the modes from 2002 with a slight twist on the 3-on-3. Instead of each fighter taking up one round in turn, players can now swap fighters at anytime and each fight is one long round with fighters getting knocked down and being replaced by the next fighter in line. It's a nice change of pace and fights feel very nice now, but the super bosses are still impossible.