Why You Should Care About The King of Fighters Series

Why You Should Care About The King of Fighters Series
Date Published: 17 June, 2020

One of the most storied fighting game franchises to date—The King of Fighters has held an important role as a fighting game staple in the FGC for decades. The series has continued to add to its remarkable legacy with its impressive showcase of character diversity, gameplay innovation, and arguably one of the most respected communities in all of fighting games.

Approaching nearly 30 years of fighting game excellence, consistency at the top should be enough of a reason to have faith in The King of Fighters series, however, in the case which that is not enough, there are plenty of other ways The King of Fighters can win one over.


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All of The King of Fighters games but one have implemented the 3 vs. 3 format.

What to expect?

The King of Fighters series is not one to hold your hand. It may be quite intimidating to newcomers as its history has shown to implement the format of using a team made out of three different fighters in every single game of the main series, with the exception of one.

The other hurdle for newcomers is often the execution barrier required for some of the games in the series, as many set the bar quite high relative to other fighting game franchises.

The King of Fighters is mostly known for its 2-D traditional mechanics that feature pacing similar to the Street Fighter series. Though one of the unique aspects The King of Fighters holds is the fact that some of its titles are practically timeless due to their singular systems.

Innovation within The King of Fighters is nothing new, as it has experimented with a 3-D environment with The King of Fighters: Maximum Impact, the use of striker assists in The King of Fighters ’99, and even different adjustments to the meter components with The King of Fighters 2002 and The King of Fighters XII.


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K’ (left) vs Joe Higashi (right) in KOF 2001.

Be it The King of Fighters ’96, The King of Fighters 2000, or even The King of Fighters XIII, practically every single game holds a unique trait within its structural fighting system that distinguishes it from any other game in the series.

Therefore, while legacy skill is still transferable, the option to play older games, is very much a viable one, as it often comes with the exploration of different mechanics. And thus, the experience of playing within a certain system is tethered to a specific iteration, consequently extending the life-cycle of many games in the series.

When it comes to gameplay, while it may require a lengthier learning period to become accustomed to both the unique systems the games in the series offer, as well as its emphasis on team construction, there is arguably no reward greater in fighting games when all of the pieces are finally put together.

Time invested in understanding general mechanics, and character specific nuance makes The King of Fighters experience truly one-of-a-kind, which is something made even more so special, considering it is applied to nearly every game in the series.


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Rugal Bernstein is one of the most notorious villains in fighting games.

Signature characters

Comprised of characters that hail from properties such as Fatal Fury, Art of Fighting, Ikari Warriors, and Psycho Soldier to name a few, character diversity in background, personality, and playstyle is not something the series lacks.

The King of Fighters arguably has a figure that anyone can enjoy, it features one of the most iconic American characters in fighting games—Terry Bogard, an extremely popular villainous boss—Rugal Berstein, and even a pro wrestling heel adopting the moniker— King of Dinosaurs.

The series is also known for having some of the best portrayal of women as fighting game characters whom include the no-nonsense type a la Leona Heidern, the spunky and confident Yuri Sakazaki, and plenty of class to go around displayed through characters like King, Mature, Vice, and Elizabeth to mention a few.

Considering the series has been around for decades, there is plenty of lore and character specific story lines that will peak one’s intrigue, be it to do with main arcs, or secondary ones.

Lastly, with the inclusion of so many different characters, it’s quite likely that anyone will be able to find the archetype they are interested in playing. Be it the long range zoner, the phone booth fighter, the grappler, and any archetype in between, the series covers just about any playstyle out there.


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M’ (left) and Wolfman (right) shaking hands at the end of their match.

The community

As previously mentioned, The King of Fighters is known to be held close to the hearts of players, especially considering many of them continue to support older iterations of the series.

However, something to note within the series’ community, is that outside of dedication to their games, The King of Fighters community is arguably the most mature community in all of fighting games.

Unaffected by whether the game in the series is new, old, highly acclaimed, or critically underwhelming, the community is usually known to simply continue enjoying their time, with very little need for outcry, drama, or unnecessary negative attention.

The display of maturity by The King of Fighters community is a trait many other communities in the FGC often lack, and something every community in the landscape can learn from by example.

Lastly, while it is quite respectful, and welcoming, the community still has plenty of personalities of interest, both on the entertainment front, as well as on the competitive end.


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Nagase as shown in The King of Fighters: Maximum Impact 2.

Why should you care?

The King of Fighters series had made its mark on the fighting game landscape long ago, however, its consistency with delivering quality games, and accomplishing so while not being afraid to experiment with its mechanics is quite the impressive feat within itself.

Taking into account the way the series portrays its characters, the variety in its gameplay across a multitude of different titles, one of the most highly respected singular communities in the entirety of the FGC, and lastly simple fun, makes The King of Fighters series one which is quite worth taking a look at, both for fighting game fans, and newcomers alike.

 

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