Saturday, April 27, 2013

King of Fighters Retrospective: 11

A few months ago, I was at a big gaming get-together with our college’s anime club and was given a TV all to myself.  While many of the others were in the main room having a Catherine tournament, I was playing fighting games.  I played some King of Fighters 98 and a little bit of Capcom vs. SNK 2, but for most of the time, it was nothing but The King of Fighters 11.  I played through KOF 11’s arcade mode countless times, watched other people play arcade mode, and fought other people in many different matches.  It was almost nothing but King of Fighters 11 all night for 6 hours without getting bored and I had a blast, because the game is just that good.

You may be wondering why SNK suddenly gave their King of Fighters game a traditional numbered title instead of their usual year numbering.  Well, King of Fighters 2003 was the last game to be made on the Neo Geo system, and SNK Playmore made a significant butt-ton of money after winning a lawsuit against another gaming company, Aruze.  With all that money to spare, SNK Playmore made the next King of Fighters game bigger and better, but that also meant it took longer to make, as it wasn’t finished until 2005 (though making a spin-off before that, KOF: Neowave, may have been a factor).  If they were to simply name it King of Fighters 2005, people would go searching for the nonexistent King of Fighters 2004, so to avoid that whole mess for the present and future, they gave their long-running series the Final Fantasy number treatment from then on.

In the previous game, a mysterious organization called Those From the Distant Land made themselves known, Chizuru had her sacred treasure along with her powers stolen by Ash Crimson, and the seal on the dreaded Orochi was broken as a result.  Now, a new King of Fighters tournament has begun, and participants are stupid enough to join while an evil organization is present.... Again.

Actually, that’s not entirely fair.  Some of the entrants are joining so that they make sure the Orochi power doesn’t get into the wrong hands or to make sure Orochi doesn’t awaken at all.  Others weren’t there for the 2003 tournament, and some of the goings-on at the end may not have been reported, so they can be forgiven for being oblivious (Bonne Jenet is one such oblivious participant).

Get ready for a long character introduction.  There are so many changes in the teams, it’s best I just go over each and every one.

After the last tournament, Chizuru was hospitalized, even seen in a wheelchair in KOF 13.  In the hospital, Chizuru told Shingo, of all people, to protect the other two treasures by taking her place in the 3 sacred treasures team from the Orochi saga.  To keep his promise to her, Shingo had to make Kyo and Iori put aside their differences and make a team.  Don’t ask me how he did it.

Chang and Choi told Kim to take a break from his criminal reformation program and enjoy himself by forming a new Fatal Fury team with his friends Terry and Duck King (another Fatal Fury character).
Franchise long-runner Joe Higashi couldn't join in this one, as he had a conflicting schedule with a muy thai title match.  Mai, another omnipresent figure in the franchise, is also absent story-wise, taking a vacation to spend more time with Andy.

Duck King is a decent replacement though.

He's kind of like Street Fighter’s Dee Jay, only American.  His fighting style is all about jumping, spinning, and rolling around the arena like the hyperactive break dancer he is.  Even his idle animation is a dance.
He was shuffling every day before it became a thing.
It reminds me of the Simpsons episode where the family goes to Brazil, and the flamingo in the weird parade says “You cannot run from Carnivale!  Because even running is a kind of dance!”

Duck King also has a small little mohawk-sporting chick/duckling in the foreground that imitates his moves and reacts to what happens to Duck.  He doesn't affect the fights in any way, but he's just the cutest thing.

Having come back from his training, Kensou joins Athena, who found a new teammate gifted with psychic powers like theirs: a little girl named Momoko.  Momoko doesn't shoot balls of psychic energy like Athena or Kensou, but she's a small and nimble physical fighter who presumably uses her psychic powers to defy gravity.  Together, the trio forms the Neo Psycho Soldiers team.

Eiji Kisaragi (From all the way back in KOF 95) joins the tournament to exact his vengeance on the school of Kyokugen.  To help in his quest for revenge, he recruits Kasumi Todoh and Athena's former teammate Malin, who wants revenge on Kyokugen (Yuri in particular) for insulting her use of weapons, calling them dishonorable.

So I guess Whip, Foxy, Heidern, Leona, and Mai are all dishonorable too then.  It's funny how Yuri never shows any problems with them.

With the Fatal Fury team full and with Yamazaki and Billy absent, Gato and Tizoc were left without a team.  That is until B. Jenet decides to get in on the action and have them join her to form the Mark of the Wolves team.

Robert Garcia, yet another mainstay, left to manage his father's company (he has a job?!), and since the women’s fighting team is sitting this tournament out and Takuma is in the hospital, King has nothing better to do than join Ryo and Yuri in the Art of Fighting Team.

In a bit of overkill, Heidern sends 3 different teams to infiltrate the tournament this time.
That's got to be unsettling  That’s like being in a class where a quarter of the students are all spies.  I know it helps to be thorough, but in a secret investigation like this, doesn't more agents mean more of a chance to get their cover blown?
For this mission, Heidern sends K’s team, with K’ himself, Maxima, and Kula, who has regained  her powers since 2003.  He also sends his usual Ikari Warriors consisting of Ralf, Clark, and Whip (Leona was barred due to an incident in their 2003 ending).  His third team is composed of the arguably more qualified special agents: Ramon, Vanessa, and Blue Mary.

But what about Seth?  Seth is no less a badass secret agent than Vanessa or Ramon.  In fact, he might be even better.  Why didn’t Heidern let him enter?

It can't be the mohawk.  Duck King has one.

It can't be that the suit isn't proper fighting attire.  Oswald and Vanessa wear suits.

Or maybe it’s because he’s

Joking aside, Seth does make a playable appearance in the KOF: Maximum Impact spin-off games whereas Ramon and Vanessa don’t, so I guess that makes them even.  There must not have been enough room for Seth to be in The King of Fighters 11.

Most of the teams I just described are of nominal importance though (save for the Japan team).  The big new character KOF 11 introduces is the Frenchwoman Elizabeth Blanctorche, who (it must be said) has the all-time stupidest outfit I have ever seen in the series.  It’s a good thing she got a better attire following KOF 11, because even Yashiro didn’t look that dopey.

Elizabeth is the sole heir to the Blanctorche family, whose duty it is to protect the innocent.  Apparently, the Blanctorches have fought Those From the Distant Land over the generations, greatly reducing their numbers, and either Ash or the Crimson family as a whole have shared the Blanctorche duty.

Prior to the events of the game, Elizabeth invited Benimaru and Duo Lon to her mansion in Paris.  After she foiled a bank robbery nearby, the two told her about what happened at the 2003 tournament, including Ash’s theft of the Yata Mirror.  All three agreed that Ash can’t be trusted and formed a new team to find out what he’s up to and stop both him and whatever Those From the Distant Land are planning.

I guess you could say she's whipping Ash into shape with that riding crop.

Benimaru really gets around.  After being on the champion team in the Orochi Saga, he has been teamed up with Lin, K’, Goro & Shingo, and now Elizabeth.  He doesn’t just tag along with his pal Kyo every year, he goes his own way and stays at least tangentially relevant to the plot.  He's quite the dynamic character.

With Duo Lon leaving him for Elizabeth, Ash was in need of a replacement.  In place of his Chinese assassin, Ash settled for an Irish one.  Enter Oswald.

Oswald uses razor playing cards for his attacks.  He’s searching for a miracle medicine of some kind called the dragon pill… That’s really the most that’s known about him other than a few vague win quotes from Ralf and Clark that show they recognize him.
Ash recruited Oswald into his team by beating him in a poker game, something that is not easy to do.  Said poker game had Oswald folding with a hand consisting of two kings and three aces.... Dumbass.  Shen tried his hand at beating Oswald too, but lost.

Poker Face.
The hell are these?  Cards?  I can't punch cards!  'Cept... Y'know... Punch cards.

It’s not exactly his character or personality that makes Oswald so awesome, especially since most of it is shrouded in mystery.  Oswald is awesome because he is a badass in every definition of the word and looks excellent while he fights.  He’s got a slick suit, cool red shades, well-groomed hair, a swift playstyle with his card-slashing, and even a unique fighting stance, all while looking somewhere in his 60s.

Oswald is all badass, all the time!  Maybe not quite as much of a badass as Ralf, but even being compared to Ralf is badass.

Finally, Adelheid joins the tournament as a single competitor and acts as the default miniboss in the middle of the game.  Before the question comes into your head, he is just as hard as in 2003.
If I were speaking instead of typing, I would now take a deep breath from an oxygen mask after the exposition dump.  King of Fighters 11 is only beaten out by King of Fighters 2002: Unlimited Match as having the biggest character selection in the franchise.

Why is Mr. Big there?  I’ll get to that.

For the most part, the rules haven’t changed since KOF 2003.  King of Fighters 11 still uses the character tag-team system just like the previous game did, but with two minor adjustments: In 2003, players started with three super stocks, but in 11, they start with one.  In every game before this, health determined who won a match when time ran out, but in 11, it's dependent on a meter beneath the round timer that sways in a player's direction the better they're playing the game.  The rules are just about the only thing that didn’t change significantly, however.

The controls are different, for example. Since the PS2 version is the version you’ll inevitably play, see this nice little chart of how KOF 11 is controlled, courtesy of Gamefly.  Keep in mind that by “thrust attack”, they’re referring to the knockdown move, and that the R2 button can be used to dodge roll.

The buttons also play into simple character selection.  In order to use a character’s default color scheme, you need to select them using the R2 button.
What game started that stupid fad?  I've seen the same thing in Guilty Gear, Capcom vs. SNK 2, and Tatsunoko vs. Capcom.  Why can't you just choose their color beforehand like Super Smash Brothers or after selecting them like KOF 13?
Team leaders are selected manually in 11, as opposed to the leader being the first character selected like in 2003.

Alongside the super gauge, KOF 11 added a new gauge that allows you to use cancels.  A cancel is when you use a special/super move while in the middle of another super or special move, allowing you to extend your combo.  It’s very difficult to pull off, and I do just fine without using them, so I wouldn’t worry about it unless you’re an extreme tournament player like these guys.

The changes to 2003’s fighting system is all technical.  The biggest improvement by far is the game speed, which is faster than KOF 2002, but slower than 2003, hitting that sweet spot of fast-paced challenge with time to think.  The fighting system overall runs much smoother, resembling the games before 2003 with quick jabs & kicks and slightly slower heavy attacks to chain them with, as opposed to the slightly delayed normal attacks in 2003.  It’s the 2003 system, but perfected, and it never gets old.

But that’s nothing compared to the presentation upgrade.  Gone is the pixilated artwork of past King of Fighters games.  Aside from the character sprites (which have been touched up themselves), everything is hand-drawn with no pixel art.  The cutscenes, the backgrounds, and the victory screens are all sharp, slick, and boast SNKs outstanding artwork to their fullest potential.

And more character-specific win quotes!  Yay!

Just look at how much detail went into the background for this installment.  Notice how much sharper and wider they are, giving fighters more space to maneuver around and fight in.

As an added touch, the game has many more special character introductions than 2003 or even 2001 did, though the chances of seeing them are still low, due to the tag team system only allowing for one intro per match.

The music too got a push in the right direction.  There are some forgettable music tracks in KOF 11, but for every underwhelming one, there’s an awesome one to make up for it, with guitar riffs aplenty.  Not only that, but the sound quality took so much of a leap, the music almost sounds like they’re arranged tracks rather than music limited by the Neo Geo’s capabilities.

To top it all off, KOF 11 continues the Tales of Ash with a great finale consisting of two of my favorite bosses in the franchise.  See a recap of it in all its glory here.

But it gets better!  Unlike the Honus Wagner card that is KOF 2003, King of Fighters 11 is readily available on the PS2, and copies are relatively easy to find for cheap prices!  I’d say you can probably find it for 5 dollars or 10 at the most, depending on where you look, and it is worth every penny, because the console version adds even more polish to a King of Fighters game that's already one one of the absolute best.

The PS2 version has a treasure chest of extras the arcade version doesn't have.  These extras include:

  • A small art gallery with illustrations of the new characters and Ash.

  • Special ending artwork for using specific character combinations, much like in the PS1 version of KOF 99.

  • An endings viewing gallery.
  • The option to customize the colors of every character and their attacks.
  • The option to use the arranged music.
  • The option to play an arranged version of the arcade mode with new 3D stages and balance tweaks; many of the new stages have cameos of previous KOF characters in the background.
There's Leona, Hinako, and even Fio.

  • The option to fight a best-2-out-of-3 series of matches with a single fighter or go back to the Orochi Saga’s elimination-style rounds.
  • Additional music tracks for specific characters that start off a match.

  • A challenge mode that allows you to unlock some of the…
  • Many characters exclusive to the console version.  These characters include past KOF participants (Mai, Mr. Big, & Robert), Fatal Fury characters (Hotaru & Tung Fu Rue), and characters from entirely different SNK games (Silver from Buriki One & Sho Hayate from Savage Reign).  These characters make what was already an extremely impressive character count a staggering, awe-inspiring character count.
Sadly, despite Mr. Big and Geese both being unlockable, Krauser is not, which is disappointing because he was my favorite member of ‘96’s boss team.

The King of Fighters 11 is an absolute must-own for any and all fans of fighting games of any kind.  Its content, story, character count, character variety, and presentation holds up even by the standards of today’s fighting games.  It's polished to a shine and I've yet to play any fighting game of the previous generation that can surpass it.  This is one PS2 game they have got to release on the PSN!

The gang's all here.  Now fight!
That high recommendation makes quite the contrast to its sequel.  After reaching an all-time high with The King of Fighters 11, SNK Playmore dropped the ball big time with what is their absolute worst game since KOF 95.  I was considering skipping The King of Fighters 12, but I believe it deserves more of a verbal beating than it already has.  Expect to see a lot of complaining in the next post, because while King of Fighters 11, is one of my favorites, King of Fighters 12 is my most hated in the entire franchise.  King of Fighters 94 & 95 have the excuse of being limited by the technology of their time, but King of Fighters 12 has no excuse at all!

I’ll just type this up front ahead of time to make sure you don’t make a regretful decision: Do not buy The King of Fighters 12.  Buy The King of Fighters 13.

KOF Finales: 11

I apologize in advance for the poor picture quality.

After beating 6 teams, yours arrives at the site where the finals are to take place, only to find that it has been horribly trashed.  It's not explicitly stated, but there may be injured or dead people in the wreckage.

There’s still one person standing there, who says he has been waiting for you.  I think it’s safe to assume that he’s the one responsible for all this.

But before you can even say “who the hell are you?”  The guy picks a fight.  No chance to talk it out, no explanations, just throw down like WWE Smackdown.

Before you start typing a nitpicky comment, know that my pronouns are correct.  That is a guy.

The reason this guy, Shion, is fighting the King of Fighters champions (or rather, finalists) is simple and explained in a mid-game cutscene.  He promised his superior Magaki that he would singlehandedly energize and awaken Orochi by drawing out the ever-present phlebotinum that is fighting spirit.  It worked in King of Fighters 97, after all.

However, it's important to note that even though they are awakening Orochi and its power, the serpent can't have a physical reincarnation because that only happens once every few thousand years.  Since he was reincarnated in '97, bringing it back to a physical form would require quite a bit of waiting.  Instead, they simply want the energy Orochi emits.

Don’t let Shion's slender, feminine appearance fool you.  He is anything but an easy opponent.

As soon as you saw his attire and the stage, you probably imagined his music would sound something like this.

In a much-appreciated change of tradition, Shion is not cheap.  His speed and special attacks are relatively fair compared to the bosses that came before him.  What makes him difficult is his skill, which is how most fighting game bosses should be.  Using Shion is really tricky, but the computer knows what it’s doing.

He utilizes a stance system of sorts, switching between using his trademarked spear and Wushu with shuriken and kunai.  The spear gives him excellent attack range, but when he’s hit, a bolt of extradimensional lightning zaps the spear away, requiring him to use a special move to get it back from its pocket dimension.

When he’s unarmed, Shion can throw lightning-fast kunai as well as a shuriken attached to a rope he can kick in your direction and knock you down with.  When he reels the rope back in, he stands in place for a bit, swinging it in an arc like he’s taunting.

Maybe he is, but I think it’s more a test to goad people into getting up close and trying to pummel him while he’s taunting.  Doing so is kind of a foolish move, because that spinning shuriken can actually hurt you and send you reeling back if you touch it.

Unarmed, Shion also has the speed and finesse of Momoko.  He’s very good at combos and dodge rolling, and even frequently uses super cancels.  His unarmed super special move in particular racks up a high hit count by whipping you with dual-wielding banners.  Who knew those things were such deadly weapons?

His leader special move isn’t anything to write home about though.  All he does is jump in the air and make chunks of debris fall on your head (which is odd, because there’s no roof outside).  It can’t be blocked and is hard to dodge, but doesn’t do as much damage as Mukai’s Netherworld Agony or Orochi’s holy light (though it does hurt quite a bit).

Shion may not be the hardest KOF boss, but he’s still a hearty challenge, and very fun thanks to his sense of fair play.  Aside from some predictable AI combo patterns, his AI feels more like an actual skilled King of Fighters player instead of a cheap computer opponent that throws overpowered special attacks at you.

However, that is still a weakness, making him relatively easy to beat if you know how to play the game well.  It's a fast and furious battle with the combatants charging into and waling on the other.

Even after all that and Shion is defeated, Orochi still doesn’t respond.  It's a picky one.

Do you have one of those compressed air horns?
Since the KOF participants weren’t actually present for that mid-game cutscene from before, Shion tells your team that now that the seal on Orochi is broken, it will once again manifest itself.

What did Magaki do?  You're the one who lost.  It's just never your fault, is it?
But before he can finish, a blue hand comes out of a hole in the sky next to him and pulls him in like a shepherd’s crook at a bad audition.  The animation of Shion being pulled into the hole is the best cutscene animation in the game, and shows how far King of Fighter’s art has come since the moving still-images of yesteryear.  Granted, most of the animation in KOF 11 is just the camera panning on still images, but the art is so excellent you hardly notice.
Apparently getting pulled into another dimension turns you into Plastic Man.
Since Shion failed to both defeat your team and awaken Orochi, Magaki takes matters into his own hands.  Unlike Mukai, Magaki doesn’t think much of humans and considers them trash, an attitude shared with his boss.

As the camera pans up on his pale, strangely-dressed body, Magaki’s skin turns pink with blue markings on it, all the while imitating Mukai and explaining that he will sacrifice your team to Orochi.

I assume that when he calls your team “sacrificial lambs,” he’s saying he’ll beat them to death.  Since the will to live is a powerful source of fighting spirit, I suppose that would give Orochi a significant boost.  That’s my interpretation, at least.  In KOF 97, the New Faces team killed themselves to finally bring Orochi out, but in KOF 13, that isn’t needed.  Just what Magaki is referring to is kind of vague.

私は死ねん! 死ねんぞ!

A new look means a new stage.  Magaki transports everyone in the vicinity to his own stage in another dimension, and boy what a stage it is.  I think it is the best final stage in King of Fighters history.  It has intimidating statues, symmetry, dark colors that make Magaki’s pink body stand out, and a ball of light in the center for that decorative focus point, like the Orochi seal in 2003.

I think he rented out Ganon's castle.

Even though Magaki clearly showed himself transforming in the last cutscene, his opening animation has his hair spike, shirt dissolve, and skin turn pink.  He can actually do so in 4 different ways, something never seen out of a single character before.  You may see all of them in one play session too, because he is one difficult SNK boss.

Magaki, in case you couldn’t tell, is a manipulator of space and traveler of dimensions.  It’s likely he’s the one who helped Mukai escape and/or teleported your team away in KOF 2003.  However, it’s also possible that was the work of two other members of Those From the Distant Land who show similar abilities.

I stated a few paragraphs back that Shion is a nice change of pace from the SNK bosses that pelt you with special attacks.  Magaki goes right back into tradition by having the most long-distance attacks in King of Fighters history.

Simply put, Magaki does not like being close to you.  He would rather stand on the other side of the screen and shoot several different difficult-to-avoid projectiles that push you back when you guard, furthering the distance between you and him.

His two primary projectiles are small pink spheres and blue fireballs.  The pink spheres are difficult to avoid, because after he shoots them in a straight line, they go through a small dimension hole and come at you from a different direction.  That can be from above him, above you, or even behind you!  And you can bet he’ll use them in rapid succession.

His blue fireballs are even worse.  They’re large, slowly move toward you in a pattern, block all projectiles (save for a few super moves), don’t dissipate when they hit your guard, and phase in and out of transparency!  King of Fighters somehow put Gradius into their gameplay!
Sometimes, if you get within range for it, he can even grab you from a distance by sticking his hand through one of his holes to slam you into the ground and take a chunk out of your health meter.

I see youuuuu!
But it gets better.  Magaki’s leader attack, Universe Distortion, does a ton of damage and fills the entire screen.  It’s almost on the level of Orochi’s overpowered screen-filling super attack.  If you aren’t guarding when he uses it, you’ll likely lost a teammate, and he's really good at timing its use just right.

If you do manage to get close to Magaki, you need to be quick and refrain from using heavy attacks, because the guy fights dirty.  If he doesn’t spam his low hits and leg sweeps, he likely uses a pink explosive attack that blows away anything directly in front of him and reflects projectiles.  All of this, of course, is done in the name of keeping you away from him.
If he doesn’t do that, he’ll either try to teleport away and start spamming the projectiles again, or teleport directly behind you and go for another leg sweep.  Low blow, Magaki!  Because he can fight back so quickly, forming combos is absolutely necessary, making him a good test of skill for arguably the most important element of King of Fighters’ combat.

In spite of the complaints that he is way too hard (to people who find that to be a negative trait, I mean), I think Magaki is awesome as both a boss and a villain.

Like any fun boss, Magaki has flaws that can be exploited for strategy with some observation and thought.  I found the most noteworthy being that if he gets hit, his blue fireballs vanish.  That means doing a running long jump and following up with a heavy kick to his ugly face is the best way to start an assault.  There’s a 50% chance he’ll counter while you’re in the air, but most of the time, he tries to make a blue fireball directly in front of him as you’re jumping.
It reminds me of that moment you see in just about every shonen anime in which the hero dodges everything the villain throws at him as he gets closer until he finally lands a face-shattering punch on the villain.  With Magaki, the player gets to experience that moment of triumph.

There are other rather triumphant ways to land good blows on the guy too.  His blue fire can’t block super special attack projectiles or certain leader moves, like Adelheid’s.  In fact, I simply spammed Adelheid’s leader attack in the challenge to unlock Magaki as a playable character (that still took a few tries though).

All of this only applies to playing the game at level 3 or lower difficulty though.  At level 4, Magaki pulls a Goenitz and makes himself unbeatable by turning on auto-block and cheating like crazy, reading your button input and playing like AI from the first 2 games.  Do not play at level 4!

Along with his proper difficulty, I like Magaki as a character.  His unique, inventive character design that shares similarities with Mukai’s helps, but the way he fights is an even bigger plus.  He’s hardly even trying, doing everything with a pompous, mocking attitude (like Goenitz, another one of my favorites).  When he wins, he even essentially says a very arrogant Japanese way of saying “I have no enemies.”
His movements match his relaxed expression.  He uses his arms more like they’re guns or whips rather than throwing punches like most characters, and he never takes any fighting stance.  He doesn’t even hold his arms up when he walks, which isn't often.  Magaki is the slowest character in the game, which is why he needs to teleport just to move.

The closest thing he has to walking.

Adding to his character is Magaki's distinction of having a specific victory quote for each and every character in the game.  Fittingly, they are all very taunting.

Against K'.
Finally, there's his music.  Magaki may very well have the best final boss music in any King of Fighters game ever, and that is an amazing feat.  Magaki’s Improvised Concerto matches both his regal demeanor and the rapid-fire flashiness of his attacks.  The song has a powerful ensemble of orchestrated instruments that even Yoko Shimomura herself hasn't been able to surpass.

It can take a few tries and a continue bonus, but with some good thinking, raw skill, practice, and playing at level 3 or lower, Magaki can be bested, and when he is, the feeling of victory is invigorating.  I've gotten so good at beating him I can do it without much struggling.  Just don’t do this:

Dodge rolling into him and spamming heavy attacks?  That's the worst tactic you could possible take.

Once Magaki is defeated, the world fades back to the ruined finals site, and Magaki reverts to his (semi) normal-looking form.

Having done all he can, Magaki takes the Mukai route and steps through one of his dimensional rips.  Your team calls him out for being a coward for running away, but he doesn’t care.  Pride isn’t worth life, right?

But before Magaki steps through, he senses Orochi respond for a quick second and comes to a realization.

I believe this unspecified realization of his is that Orochi also responds to hatred, which is something I’ll touch more on when I get to KOF 13.  I think it's responding to either your team’s hatred of Magaki running away or Magaki’s inner rage by being berated for his cowardice.  That or your team’s words are causing Magaki to flash back to his father leaving his mother or something.
Also, it’s a plot point that by responding, Orochi has revealed to Those From the Distant Land where its most responsive point is, kind of like a quick ping on the radar.  That becomes important later.

But just as Magaki exclaims that he has gotten something done, a pole-shaped object goes straight through him, spilling his inhuman blue blood everywhere.  The object goes through so fast, you’ll miss it if you blink, and there's a full second delay in the injury for dramatic effect.

So his body is filled with raspberry-blueberry Faygo!  No wonder those ancient humans wanted them dead.
He's either in shock or hessa firin' his lazor!

I would like to point out that the manual for King of Fighters 13 (the canonical sequel to this game) says that Magaki was killed by Shion’s spear, and at no point is Shion shown throwing the thing.  He probably did, but there’s a possibility he didn’t, if we are to go by exact words.  If he did, then I can just imagine him throwing the spear through the open hole and flipping him off for a moment before running into the white abyss of the pocket dimension.  I guess it’s not enough to send your boss an “I quit” letter.

With Magaki’s death, the dimensional rip closes and the King of Fighters tournament ends.

That’s shown in the Ikari Warrior’s ending, as well as K’s.  The team-specific endings in King of Fighters 11 have a much more coherent order of events than the other games.  If you use the game’s ending viewer to watch the right ones in order, they form a much more cohesive narrative than previous games.  I’ll spare you the trouble and tell you what team endings to watch in what order:

Ash's, Japan, Elizabeth's, Ikari Warriors, Adelheid.  The rest are sub-plots that aren’t necessary to know, but still entertaining.  The endings don’t make it clear who the official winner in the storyline is, but I just assume they never found out because the finals had to be canceled thanks to Shion.

King of Fighters 11 is only an establishing point for the real finale; it's a whole game of buildup, and it does a great job of doing it.  The plot points established pay off in The King of Fighters 13, not in The King of Fighters 12.

Do not buy The King of Fighters 12.  Buy The King of Fighters 13.