The King of Fighters series has never been anything short of epic shonen action since KOF 96. Thanks to its colorful character designs, soundtrack, and dynamic backgrounds, every fight is a memorable one, and that goes doubly so for the climax of each game (excluding 12). You could choose the closing fights of almost any King of Fighters game, and it would count as an epic gaming moment, but I’m only sharing my favorite: the climax to King of Fighters 97, one of the most epic of King of Fighters finales. Not that it's major for a fighting game, but.... spoilers.
The beginning of the end begins at the end. You’ve beaten all the challengers and have been declared the King of Fighters.
|For some reason I always imagined a buck-toothed Asian stereotype saying this. Does that make me evil?|
However, Iori (who is now spectating after killing his teammates last year) starts feeling strange. His half-orochi blood is being stirred by some nearby force, and he can’t control it, so he outright assaults the champion team in a wild rage.
That is unless you have Iori in your team, in which case it’s team Ikari’s Leona (the other half-blood) who goes crazy.
The fight that follows is the first part of KOF 97’s endgame. Both Orochi Iori and Orochi Leona are pretty much the same fighters as their normal, less-crazy counterparts, only hunched over and much faster. That speed puts you on the edge and requires you to up your fighting tempo, creating a hyped-up high-speed brawl that will probably take at least 2 of your teammates to win.
|Someone can probably come up with a better caption than me for this picture.|
Making it more epic is the background and music. The background is a red filter over the previous stage with time standing still, and the music is a guitar-heavy, fast-paced song that encompasses the feeling of danger, rage, and conflict all at the same time.
After rightfully defending yourself, the source of Iori and Leona’s unrest are revealed to be the New Faces team, who have been using the fighting energy produced by the King of Fighters tournament (it’s kind of like Yu-Gi-Oh 5D’s ener-D) to finish what Goenitz started in the last game and revive the world-destroying entity Orochi. However, they need a little more power, and fight you to get it.
Now, since fighting gives Orochi his power, you’d think you should just run and not fight….. You’d be extremely boring.
So you fight the new Orochi team in probably the most epic (pardon my overuse of the word) battle in the King of Fighters series. There are a large number of reasons its so epic.
First, it’s unexpected. Previously, the New Faces team was dance battlers on par with most of the other characters in the game in terms of strength. Suddenly, they’re all using devastating elemental powers. The fight reaches all new extremities for the series, with firey explosions, lightning balls, and hand blasts somehow sucked out of the earth. They’re not so harmless now. Their victory poses show off their revealed powers too. Chris holds out one of his flames, Shermie raises her hand and catches a bolt of lightning, and Yashiro hunches over and shakes the earth like a Dragon Ball Z character. They’re certainly skilled in the art of intimidation.
It’s worth mentioning this new team is comprised of evil counterparts of the main characters, the
Japan team. Chris, like Kyo, is fast and uses fire. Shermie, like Benimaru, is tall, thin, and
uses lightning. Yashiro, like Goro, is
bulky and uses grappling moves and earth.
They also have the honor of being the only team of bosses in the series (unless you count the boss team in the
previous game, but they didn’t get an introduction).
The explosive fighting all takes place on one of the best stages in the game: the Orochi altar. It starts out as a simple radial pattern with a big purple fire in the middle of it, but once Shermie comes up to fight, the mountains in the background become covered in clouds, and as the fight goes on, the pillars are demolished by bolts of lightning, emphasizing the power at hand. But the destruction comes to a new high when Yashiro comes up. The altar starts shaking under the fighters’ feet, the hole in the middle becomes filled with bubbling lava, and the mountains in the background get their own lava flow. It’s a good thing you fight on a 2D plane, because it’d be easy for Yashiro to throw you in the lava pit if he could.
At last, to top off this battle... The icing on the cake… The music: Rhythmic Hallucination. A simple, catchy tune with heavy beats to, once again, emphasize the Orochi team’s power. It seems to be a combination of a chant and rock ballad, which, considering the Orochi team members are both worshippers and a rock band, so it’s a perfect fit.
After sustaining god knows how many third degree burns and shattered bones, the Orochi team reveals that the fight gave their god the energy he needs, and Orochi uses Chris as a vessel to be reborn and grow a few feet taller. The final battle of the Orochi saga begins, as your team takes on an otherworldly entity!
Sadly, the fight with Orochi isn’t as impactful as the last 2, nor is it as difficult. What makes Orochi a challenge is his ultra-powerful projectiles and super moves. He’s not a great hand-to-hand fighter, though he did somehow learn Rugal’s genocide cutter. By far the worst attack he has is one move in which he calls some kind of holy force from the sky to obliterate your entire life bar if you’re not guard-
Here's a recap with funny commentary: