Friday, February 15, 2013

KOF Finales: 2001

After winning the tournament, the sponsors are gracious enough to give you a victory celebration in their own private blimp.  If Yu-Gi-Oh has taught us anything, it’s that blimps are great for one-on-one fighting.

But there’s something very strange about the blimp.  There’s nobody around but your team.

Suddenly, the front of the blimp detaches and reveals itself to be a rocket as it blasts off into space!

This weapons cartel somehow has technology even further developed than NASA, and they are using it to kidnap four people.  Never mind that the blimp should’ve nosedived if there was a giant hunk of metal weighing it in the front.

Did I mention this finale is audaciously awesome?

Once the ignition starts, your team is greeted by a new face in a familiar getup who wants to see your power for himself.

This is Zero.  The real one.  The one in 2000 was a traitorous clone.
SNK outright admitted they didn’t plan for this.  They pulled the clone factoid out of their arse because they wanted to use a better design for Zero than the one in 2000.

I like to think that the Zero in 2000 was genetically designed from creation to look like Ling, which is why he never took his “disguise” off.  Furthermore, I believe the original Zero wasn’t mentioned by the clone because the clone thought he could kill off the original and take his place.  That’s what I’m going with, anyway.

Since he's actually loyal to NESTS, the original Zero isn’t alone.  He is the only boss in King of Fighters with his own team of strikers.  One is his black lion Glaugan, and the other two…

On the left is our old “friend” Krizalid, apparently saved or cloned or something after ’99.  On the right is Ron, the man Lin and Seth have been searching for.  What we have here is a team-up of NESTS biggest bad guys (not counting the trinity of CEOs shown later).  You just know from that alone that this will be good.

The strikers are what make the fight so memorable.  I read somewhere that SNK was originally planning to have a 3-man boss team like in ’97.  I don’t think that would have been as effective, because it seems fitting for at least one boss to use the striker system exclusive to the NESTS saga, and having Zero take the forefront commanding the others demonstrates his high authority.  That and the last thing I want is to fight that S.O.B. Krizalid again!

A very nice touch is that even though they don’t fight, the strikers get some of their own character intros and win poses.  The best example is fighting Zero with Lin.

Lin: ロン! きさまのじゃきをかんじる! でてまえ!(“Ron!  I can sense your evil!  Show yourself!”)
Ron: ここまでくれたな。。。ぼず。(“You have come this far… Boy.”)

And if you lose with K’, Krizalid jumps in to say “しんぽのないものたちだ.” (“You haven’t improved at all.”)

This Zero has much more of an intimidating and malevolent presence than his clone too.  For example, rather than leaning down and punching the ground to use a black hole attack, this one only needs to hold his hand up to use a more whitish vortex.

His music matches that malevolence.  Ron, Krizalid, and Zero all come off as condescending, and there’s something about his music that says “I am superior to you.”

Even though the original Zero fights almost exactly like his clone, the strikers are a big addition to his arsenal.  Glaugan jump slashes at you at long range and Krizalid typhoon kicks at very short range.  But Ron is Zero’s favorite.  When summoned, Ron strikes you with some kind of invisible force that instantly breaks your guard.

Zero’s favorite tactic is to use Ron the moment before he unleashes his screen-filling super move so you can’t guard against it.

You’d think that means the best strategy is to try and beat Zero to the punch, but no.  The best countermeasure against Zero’s guard breaker is to….. Guard.
Zero’s white hole deals its biggest chunk of damage in the initial two hits.  Those will hit you while Ron is still prepping to strike and you’re (hopefully) still guarding.  That means Ron won’t hit you until the worst is over.

If you charge Zero, Ron will probably miss, but Zero won't.

With his constant use of strikers and special attacks, you’d think that at some point Zero has to run out of super stocks, but no.  He doesn’t have a super bar.  He can just use his strikers and super moves whenever he damn well pleases.

That’s f^%#ing cheating!

Not that cheating helps him.  Funnily enough, even with his unlimited super moves and strikers, I find the original Zero to be a little easier than his clone.  You can chalk that up to his AI, not just for its predictability, but its openings.

For example, right after using his usual sarong swish, he stands in place for about a full second without guarding, the perfect time to use a ranged attack of some kind for a good sucker punch.  That and other exploitations make Original Zero easier to manage than the first one.  He’s still difficult, just not as difficult if you take it slow and know what you're doing.

Finding weaknesses is half the fun with these bosses.

After beating Zero, the ship starts to malfunction (for some reason).  Zero takes his defeat with dignity and allows you to jump onto a nearby space station’s dock while he stays and goes down with the ship.

He's probably got another clone somewhere, considering they seem to be as easy to grow as fungus.

Your team finally arrives at the heart of the organization…. NESTS’ base of operations: a giant colony in the sky the military apparently never noticed.  I greatly question Heidern’s efficiency.

If you don’t have anyone in the NESTS team in your team, you get a little extra scene, in which K9999 and Angel viciously betray their teammates by stabbing Foxy in the back.  She and Kula have outlived their usefulness.

Back inside the colony, your team is greeted by the big trinity of NESTS.  Igniz on the left, Misty on the right, and the man named NESTS himself in the middle.  Supplementary material apparently says NESTS is the CEO of the cartel named after him, yet for some reason it’s Igniz who goes on a villainous rant and calls himself NESTS’ CEO.  All the while, the old guy is just sitting there like a statue.

Igniz tells your team that the superhuman experiments Kula, K9999, K’, and Krizalid are all useless to him now.  As is NESTS, as he believes he has the powers of a god, so he doesn't need them anymore.  With that, Igniz disintegrates NESTS (the guy) in the palm of his hand, and the space colony starts to lower down to earth.

He doesn't even react to any of this!  He didn't get any lines!  Is he asleep?!

I do not understand how beating your team will make him a god.  The game doesn’t make this clear.  From what I can gather, beating your team will prove his power as a god once and for all, and he will use that power to rule the world…. I think.

But that doesn’t make sense.  If he beats your team, all he’s proving is that he’s really good at fighting people.  I already pointed out in the ’99 finale that countries like the U.S. have heavy militia, and he doesn’t imply that he has any kind of army at the ready (though that could be what all those creatures in tanks that are shown are for).

Then again, the military hasn’t exactly proven its competence in the King of Fighters games, so maybe it is important that you win.

You won’t.

You know it’s going to be bad when I say he’s comparable to Krizalid.

You’d think that Igniz’s music would be something pseudo-holy to fit with his god complex, but it’s much more fitting for it to be a hard-hitting heavy metal song to fit with you grinding your teeth whilst getting beat with a whipsword like you’re in an S&M club.

Igniz wasn’t overstating by a whole lot when he said he has the powers of a god, because he is the most overpowered, cheap, heavy-hitting boss ever in a King of Fighters game (though you could make the argument that Krizalid is harder)!

All of his attacks are the pinnacle of damage and blow you across the room.  He casually breaks your guard with one of his most basic attacks.  He constantly air juggles you in the air with the same cheap whipsword special over and over.  He uses his unavoidable super moves constantly and without impunity because like Zero, he has no super meter!  What’s worse, one of these super attacks take off 90% of your health!  Sweet lord almighty!

He’s like if Cell, Nobunaga Oda, the emperor of Brittania, and Deus Ex Machina (the Mirai Nikki one) all combined to form one being of planet-shattering megapower!

I hardly even have any strategies for beating Igniz, other than only fighting with your team's best character.  He is just that brutal!  You’re going to want to spend a lot of the fight crouching and guarding, hoping you get lucky and time him out, with a continue bonus of course!  There are some possible AI exploits, but you'll be fighting him at least 10 times to find any.

Oh god why?!

At least you’ll get to hear Norio Wakamoto’s voice a lot, because like the preceding cutscene, Igniz goes on long speeches when he wins, which is all the damn time.  He probably has the most voiced dialogue in the game.  It’s as if SNK and Eolith were milking Wakamoto for everything they could.
There’s one and only one badass that can handle an SNK boss of this magnitude...

After losing (believe it or not, he can lose), Igniz limps over to his control panel, flabbergasted that he has been defeated.


His panel seems to consist of two hand scanners on either side of him.  Putting his hands on them seems to trigger a destructive mechanism of some sort, for Igniz believes that if he can’t be a god…

Igniz tries to make the entire space colony crash into the earth instead of land softly!  And there’s nothing your team can do about it!

Thankfully though, by some currently-unknown force, the colony safely lands in the ocean, and everyone aboard (except Igniz, supposedly) is saved.

With their bosses dead and their HQ gone, NESTS is no more.

Still, I can’t help but feel we’re forgetting something.


Say what you want about the game itself, but SNK and Eolith knew what they were doing when they were working out the final bosses for 2001.  They put out all the stops and made one of the biggest finales KOF had seen yet, even if the villains weren't fully established and it ended with something of a fizzle.

But the end of one saga marks a fresh start with another.  With NESTS gone, a new evil had to take the stand, leading to my favorite villains in King of Fighters.  We’ll get to them in King of Fighters 2003.


  1. I personally think the Zero here is an EXTREEMLY watered down and inferior version of the Zero in KoF 2000.
    I mean,the guy has almost NO original moves and uses strikes for most of his battle.That's not exactly what i'd call malevolent at all :/

  2. actually i think he is Badass and intimidating based on how he is so calm and relaxed during the fight almost like his there to test your strenght as to confirm if you are worth facing Igniz a who has a more evil intent personality. even zero stance is just serene. hes laugh also has a malevolent yet innocent evil intent. almost as if he is naive of his evil deeds.In all he just appear to you as a better evil type of person. Oh and yeah the way he while kneeling with his pet lion he says in a contradicting fashion to his demeanor,"WELCOME TO YOUR DEATH,I WILL BE YOUR EXCECUTIONER". I mean his just a calm badass.