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Kofxiiips3
I think that over the years, traditional fighting games such as Street Fighter or Tekken have been getting a little too casual and not as fun as the old days... at least that's what I think. The reason is that the companies aren't trying hard enough anymore. But I'll give credit to Namco Bandai by saying this: they're no slouchs in comparison to Capcom, who have a tendency to troll with their fans and rehash fighting titles just to make more money. Isn't that where greed usually kicks in? :/ Even so, I also start to believe that the rest of you on Game Ideas Wiki might start to get tired of me picking on Capcom for all the wrong reasons... and I have logical ones, okay? But if there's one company that is sticking out the best, I think that one is SNK. Speaking of SNK for today, let's take a look at one of their recently released games... King of Fighters XIII for the Playstation 3, Xbox 360, and the iPhone/iPod Touch (entitled "The King of Fighters-i-")


So first of all, a vast majority of people in North America hardly know about KOF, let alone SNK or the other games they have produced. Why is this so? Because the so-called fighting game connoisseurs who adore playing Street Fighter or Tekken (despite the opinion of this being a MANLY title, and I can agree to that) have little to no time to research anything about SNK. #1. SNK is a Japanese company that are rather famous for creating such franchises like Samurai Shodown (spelled so on purpose, I guess), Metal Slug, and especially The King of Fighters. #2. Aside from Marvel, SNK has had their few shares with duking out against Capcom... And I think the true reason people know SNK is due to Capcom vs. SNK's popularity. {facepalm} Aaaaaaaaand #3. This company is obscure a bit these days just for the first two reasons I stated just now.

So King of Fighters, itself, is a fighting game series that is specifically known for its innovating tag-team game mechanics, its large and colorful list of crossover characters (KOF was the first to do so, then? Eat it, Capcom!), and laughably bad English translation... for example, "Rugal befeated". Yeeeeeeeeeah :P Spectacular writing you got there, SNK of America. There are also arcs for each game: King of Fighters '94 through '97 is basically the Orochi Saga, King of Fighters '99 through King of Fighters 2001 is the NESTS Saga (there are fans who aren't up to liking this arc, to be honest with you guys), and King of Fighters 2003 through King of Fighters XIII is the Ash Saga (infamous for having one of the most bishounen characters in the universe, Ash Crimson :/). Aside from these titles, there are also Dream Matches; they include King of Fighters '98 (Ultimate Match is the expansion), King of Fighters 2002 (Unlimited Match is an expansion for this one), and the HORRIBLE King of Fighters XII. Also don't be afraid to count the titles in the Maximum Impact series (King of Fighters Maximum Impact, King of Fighters 2006, and King of Fighters Maximum Impact: Regulation A) or any of the handheld titles... like I care, anyway.

Now we have The King of Fighters XIII which is a massive improvement over King of Fighters XII in nearly every aspect. If there was anything mostly wrong about XII, it was the fact that SNK Playmore (which was originally SNK, but the original company went bankrupt around the late 90's and Eolith helped with both King of Fighters 2001 and 2002, and finally Playmore and SNK came together even nowadays as "SNK Playmore") looked to be relying more on the graphical design than character roster or balancing and stage selection... not to mention the atrocity that is the online capabilities. How pathetic, in my opinion.

So what does KOF XIII have what the predecessor missed out on? Simple: a decent/satisfactory character roster, more stages, balancing, improved online settings, and a greater emphasis on gameplay. Each of these help make the game have some more of the "OOMPH!" feeling to it, which is what traditional fighting games other than Mortal Kombat 9 or Tekken Tag 2 should have. Nice to see you actually getting out of your shell, SNK Playmore! You'll be back on top soon enough...

When I speak about the character roster by the way, there are of course returning fan favorites that didn't make the cut back in The King of Fighters XIII. Of course I'm talking about K', Yuri Sakazaki, and last but not least, SNK's true poster girl, Mai Shiranui! And why do I call Mai a SNK poster girl? Easy as 1+1 on that one. Most people know the KOF series as a whole only for this character's... a-a-assets. That's a good way to put it! It's also a piece of fanservice as the fans who even played any of the games in the franchise will rarely pick Mai on any of their teams, and the ones who DO pick her up are... y'know. The ones with a heart. Especially considering how the fans were outraged to the extreme when she didn't reappear in King of Fighters XII, as if it's a penchant to include Mai in nearly every title... the same way Rugal Bernstein needs to be in a Dream Match game. People, I'm gonna throw this out here: it's not just Mai who's the sexy one, alright? KOF has its fair share of other gorgeous women such as Vanessa or even Leona Heidern (*ahem* post-KOF 2003). But to get this out of the way, there are also the 22 returning characters from KOF XII and console-exclusives such as Billy Kane and Saiki in his human form. Aaaaaand DLC as well; Iori (pre-KOF XII), NESTS Kyo, and Mr. Karate make an impact here, too! All and all, I'll just say that the roster has definitely changed for the better, but there are perhaps others like Yamazaki, Malin, Adelheid Bernstein (he appears still via Story Mode cutscenes in this game), or Kasumi Todoh that would've fit, too... dunno. That's just me. :/ This is the last game in which Ash Crimson makes an appearance as he dies at the very end of Story mode, thank God! ;) I don't know why, but maybe when a bishounen-type person dies in fiction, I think I'm happy because it's a little too weird to see males dress like girls. Japan's f***ed up that way!

The stages, as well as the character sprites, look BEAUTIFUL! Taking a nod back from KOF XII, SNK Playmore is showing us well-needed art in comparison to the over-inked Street Fighter IV series or the dramatic BlazBlue universe... not that that still matters, though. And hi? There's more stages in this installment, as well. In all, there are seven (nine in the console port) stages plus two additional ones being boss arenas. Little fun fact: in each KOF XIII stage, see if you can find an unplayable character who makes a cameo or just ridicule the hell outta the France stage for having obese women with pig-esque facial features.... ugh!

As I've stated a lot earlier, King of Fighters XIII has online capabilities that surpass the previous entry's... maybe because the online gameplay in this one is very similar to the latest KOF XII online patch, which is from what I've heard, pretty damn good. But be on your guard for spammers; imagine if they used the same amount of techniques for every match as well as the same characters. {sighs} There's no real problem in that because I'll spam in a fighting game every once and a while, but keep it at a bare medium, okay? Besides, you can do it against both Saiki (transformed state) and Evil Ash (the manifestation of both Ash Crimson and Saiki), who are of course overpowered like every SNK fighting game boss, but not much of a problem this time.

Let's not forget about the trials! Now akin to Street Fighter IV, BlazBlue, and MvC3 vanilla (also UMvC3), King of Fighters XIII has this as well. However this isn't as boring as any of those and can be quite fun, really. There is one major downside: the difficulty in the trials is like Satan beating on your door! It's harder than it looks, folks, and KOF XIII's trials immediately crap all over SFIV, BB, and even MvC3... just because players are starting to admit those were actually cakewalks in comparison to the mindrape that is King of Fighters XIII!!! OUROBUROS ANGRY!!!!!!!! AAAUUUUGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! {clears throat} Sorry about that outburst, fellow Game Ideas Wiki users. We usually shouldn't be "responsible" for that...

Gameplay mechanics are very smooth and complex in this title, which is something I absolutely adore in fighting games. In fact, KOF XIII is playable more like an old-school King of Fighters game (pre-KOF 99). First of all, special moves have "normal" and "stronger" versions; EX Special Move and EX Super Special Move allows the playable fighter to perform tasks such as gaining a boost of attack speed, invincibility, adding more hits, and obtaining other factors. The only problem is that a partial drain of the power gauge is present. There's other stuff as well, including the new Neo Max Desperation Moves, the Max Cancels, the speed of gameplay is enhanced (the "Zoom" effect from KOF XII is absent now), Triple Cancels, and pretty much that's all I have to say.

Musically speaking, it's of course very top-notch. You might be able to get in to some hardhitting songs such as "Arashi no Saxophone 5" for the Yagami Team or "Tame a Bad Boy" for the Kim Team. Not only that, but you're able to hear character themes from previous titles, such as "Queen", which was Elisabeth Blanctorche's theme in King of Fighters XI. It's safe to asusme that SNK music developers aren't really pushovers in comparison to Capcom these days... but then again, that's just a statement and nothing more.

An aesthetic I would like to note before ending this review is this: King of Fighters XIII also has unique pre-fight dialogue exchanges that one may recognize from SVC Chaos. They exist mainly in mirror matches (when two players use the same character) and Single Player mode. Nice add-on as usual, SNK Playmore. Again, you do what's right. Unlike a certain gaming company out there... you know which one I mean.

In conclusion overall, is King of Fighters XIII a must-buy title? Most certainly. It fixes up all the problems that the Dream Match entry, KOF XII, had. Although this was primarily just for SNK Playmore listening to their fans... and did the publishers have a say in this as well? Atlus for North America, Rising Star in Europe, and just SNK Playmore originally!? Well, that doesn't matter. All I know is that the developers really wanted to stick out on this one and they did just that. There are still a few problems here and there like the first half of the Story mode which is clustered with large paragraphs, the Trials mode being near incredibly hard (still fun, otherwise), and that there's no simple tutorial for any newcomers to the series.

I, the almighty Ouroburos, give King of Fighters XIII an A-! Also think about checking during the middle of December for an early Christmas present: me reviewing Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games! And why won't I review Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games during this time? First of all, I haven't seen much footage and secondly, it wouldn't be much fitting for the Holidays. Again, that's just me. Soooooo see ya guys later!

Final verdict

Pros

  • Very smooth gameplay mechanics; I especially like the addition of Neo Max Desperation Moves and the speed being enhanced this time.
  • Improved character roster, despite the fact that I wished that some other fan favorites would've returned. It's all good, though
  • SNK said that balancing wouldn't happen in the console ports, but they lied... yet I forgive them, as balancing in fighting games is something I find to be a necessary inclusion
  • I forgot to put this in as part of the review, but I'll say it anyway: no ENGLISH VOICES!!!! Why do I praise this removal? Because having to use Japan-residing English VA talent (other than Tekken 5) or amateurs from the streets is rather a cheap act on a company's part.
  • Frantic, upbeat, and dark music done at the same time. How amazing
  • The pre-fight conversations from SVC Chaos make a pretty solid comeback here
  • Online is pretty swell

Cons

  • The Story mode can drag on at times; notably during the large paragraphs. But it's still nice to choose various paths
  • While addictive, the Trials are a monster right next to the overusage of SNK Boss Syndrome
  • There's no tutorial for any newcomers to the franchise. Why not, SNK Playmore? WHY NOT!?!?

Final vote

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