Friday, December 28, 2012

KOF Finales: 95

After beating all the other teams, yours is assaulted with sleeping gas.

This is a very questionable kidnapping method.  First of all, aside from one, maybe two stages, these fights are out in the open with plenty of space for the gas to vent out.  Second of all, there’s also a good chance that you’re in a stage with a lot of people in the background watching.  Is this not attracting public attention?  It’s a really clumsy transition to the final stage.

Anyway, when they wake up, they see the man responsible for the tournament this year is none other than Rugal Bernstein!
Le gasp.
Somewhat understandably, your team is shocked that Rugal is still alive after his ship exploded in his face.
I have a good guess as to how he survived, regarding something revealed later in this finale, but the general reason most people agree on is “because SNK and their fans really like Rugal.

What Rugal says depends on the team you’re using, but I said I wouldn’t go into that, so I’m using what he says to a team of nonspecific characters, which is significantly different.  For most of the default teams, he says he wants revenge for the last game's events.  For everyone else...
I'll make you excessively beefy and violent.  Like that Jax fellow.
But before that, Rugal wants to show he’s capable of controlling others (technically, he isn't), so he sics an old guy on you.

"Flail away?"  Who says that?
That’s right.  He said Kusanagi.  This is Kyo’s dad, Saisyu (misspelled in this game, though his name can be translated either way), who has been brainwashed into obeying Rugal's orders by one of his assistants.  He may not have any cyborg implants like Rugal kind of implied, but he does have the same Kusanagi blood Kyo has, and that gives him serious fire power.

Saisyu fights in pretty much the same way Kyo does.  He has most of Kyo’s moves plus his own dangerous lunging punch attack.  What makes him such a balls-to-the-wall difficult boss is, once again, his absolutely omnipotent AI, which has reached the peak of cheating, since it’s the end of the game.

The place this all goes down in isn’t what I’d call the best fighting stage.  You’re in a missile silo on an elevator going down.  The many machinations throughout it make you feel like you’re in a high-tech facility the Umbrella Corporation would find a bit much, but it doesn’t have the same kind of striking visuals as other King of Fighters stages.
And what is with that glowing holographic display of the globe in the middle?  What practical use does it have on an elevator?  It made some sense having it be on Rugal’s desk in the last game, but I don’t see why something that seems so big and important (it IS the world, after all) is on something you’re only on for a few minutes.

I imagine Rugal has to bend over to touch the thing, assuming it's interactive.
At least the track that plays is able to add some flare while still fitting with the many machinations operating in the background.  It's a sinister, slower tune with a beat boxing computer backing it up.

After finally managing to beat the cheating jerk Saisyu, Rugal takes matters into his own hands and starts filling himself with some kind of evil energy, burning his clothes from the waist-up, revealing a cyborg arm and turning his hair white.  He has now become Omega Rugal!

No questioning morality here.  He's just flat-out evil.

Predictable reference.
I should point out that, like the last game, the teammates and health you lost fighting Saisyu carry over to the fight with Omega Rugal.  I fail to see just how Rugal is establishing his superiority when the people he’s fighting are already halfway beaten.

In stark contrast to KOF '95's anime style, Omega Rugal’s sprite seems to have reverted back to the grainy realism look the last game had, just with more detail.  It looks really out of place and distracting.  He almost looks like he belongs in Killer Instinct.
The Omega symbol on his back that can only be seen in certain motions is a nice touch.

He fights almost identically to the way he did in '94, so it’s not all that exciting for the masochists that played it all the way through.  The best part of the whole thing is the music that plays.  I can think of few better music tracks in any medium to play during a truly final battle like this, and combined with the grunts and thwacks of the fight itself, it makes for an excellent symphony of martial arts action, even if those grunts and thwacks are at your expense.  Presentation is one of the things KOF does best.

Of course, you’re probably not going to hear the music for long, because you’re weakened, he’s ultra-powerful; you’re human, he’s a cheating AI opponent.  Do the math.

Fist+neck=electro choke!

Once you finally decide to cheat again (If they don't play fair, why should you?) and win, Rugal is consumed by his mysterious power and vanishes, ending his life.

Arguably the most infamous line in the series... For the wrong reasons, but that's part of King of Fighters' charm.

The question of just what power Rugal got a hold of is answered in the next game.

As a whole, this finale just seems like a retread.  Omega Rugal is hardly different from regular Rugal and Saisyu is hardly any different from Kyo.  It doesn’t throw anything wholly new at you, but for what it has, it could have been fun had KOF 95 played decently enough.  With Rugal now dead (for real, in the story), SNK had to come up with new bosses to fight.  Be sure to catch the recap for The King of Fighters 96!

1 comment:

  1. I think his Omega form really fits well into his character 8D
    Oh,and i would LOVE to see him in Killer Instinct B)