Thursday, December 27, 2012

Introduction to The King of Fighters Retrospective

I’m not an elite, hardcore tournament-level fighting game enthusiast, but I don’t need to be to love The King of Fighters.  Ever since I got the first compilation release on the Wii, I’ve gradually learned the complex ins and outs of the fighting system, taken a Japanese college course, and done whatever it takes to play every game in the main King of Fighters series.  The characters, sights, sounds, and simple, but fun, storylines have had me playing the same games over and over for at least three years.

I may not have been there since the series’ beginning (I could hardly speak a coherent sentence back in 1994), but even today it's interesting to see how the gameplay and story has evolved over the course of its over decade-long existence.

Some people I know don’t even know about the series’ roots.  Some just picked up and played any recent King of Fighters game and had fun with it, which is good, since that means there’s broader appeal, and they don’t need to play the other games to enjoy them.  But I feel that understanding where the series has come from will let them enjoy the games more, both so that they can pick up on subtle plot elements, see characters only in certain installments and appreciate how much of an improvement the recent games are from the ones before them.

That is why, inspired by the retrospective greats of Noah Antweiler and Matt Williams, I am going to be writing a retrospective over every King of Fighters game in the main series, starting with The King of Fighters 94 and ending with The King of Fighters 13.  I’ll touch on characters, notable changes for each installment after the first, and my thoughts on each one.

I’ll also be detailing the finale of each game to get the latecomers caught up, in my own way.  Although I’ll do a play-by-play of each game’s ending common to almost every team, I promise not to give away any character-specific endings.  You can play the games and see them for yourself, if these retrospectives make you want to.  I’ll happily display your options for getting a copy of each game as well.
Like I said, the stories are relatively simple.  There are only maybe two or three minor plot twists to spoil in the entire series, and even then, you’re just going to learn them in the half hour it takes to get to the end anyway.  Still, for those who would rather experience the plots themselves, the overview of each finale will be on a separate post, to which I will provide a link if you want to read.

There’s a lot to cover, so I’ll start with the very first.  It all began in 94…

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