Monday, May 27, 2013

KOF Finales: 13

King of Fighters 13 actually has two different endings, much like KOF 2003.  Unlike 2003 though, the bad ending has no boss, so there’s no real reason to get it unless you’re curious or a completionist.  For the ending I’m about to go over, you need only get enough points in the fights leading up to it.  If you’re an experienced player, you shouldn’t need to worry about it, but if you’re sub-par, go to the options menu and set the round time to 99.  The time bonus will be more than enough to get the right ending.

After beating the final team in the grandiose Bernstein Stadium, Rose appears on the giant monitor to congratulate your team on your victory before she’s suddenly interrupted when time freezes for everyone but the KOF participants.

Incoming message from the big giant h-

Who better to show up at such a showstopper than the original showstopper of the storyline?


And friends.

And boss.

That is the oft-mentioned master of Those from the Distant Land, Saiki.  By Saiki’s order, everyone teleports away and gets ready for the awakening.

Just how are these guys teleporting to and from the center of the stadium anyway?  Do they all have dimensional powers?  Maybe there’s some kind of teleporter set up, I don’t know.

Even after everyone else leaves, there's still one person who stays behind.

Please don't tell me we have to deal with Mukai again.

Mukai offers to fight your team for Saiki, but Saiki is not one for being tolerant of disobedience.  So, like any good boss, he turns right around and sucks the life out of Mukai in a rather brutal fashion.  Mmmmmm.  Tastes like cheap SNK boss syndrome.

As he speaks, Saiki grows taller and turns red, the stadium transforms, and a gigantic obelisk-like gate erupts from the ground.  It’s the final battle!  Here is where it all ends!

You may be wondering “What is going on here?”  A valid question if you don’t play story mode, and even then, you need to pay close attention and piece things together.  Get ready for a whole lot of expodump as I give the previous scene context.

As stated before, Those from the Distant Land are immortal super beings that have existed since ancient times, and were once worshipped and feared as gods.  Back then, Saiki used a special gate to travel forward in time thousands of years, expecting his clan to have taken over the world by then.  However, when he got to the future, most of The Distant Landers were wiped out, thanks in part to families like the Blanctorches and possibly the Crimsons.
Now Saiki is trying to travel back in time to rewrite the past using his giant time gate that only appears on a planetary alignment, making this their only chance to open it.  By controlling Rose, they control the tournament, including the location and time of the finals.
The gate is powered by “time spheres”, which are connected to an underground ritual site built over Orochi’s resting place, and above that is Bernstein Stadium.  By energizing and awakening Orochi, its power will go to the time spheres and open the gate.  It’s stated multiple times that when Saiki goes back in time, the timeline he’s in will cease to exist, so no alternate timeline Back to the Future logic here.
The last thing Saiki wants is the 3 sacred treasures, because with them, he will essentially have a form of control over Orochi, making the world easier to conquer.

Now he is trying to bring out the hate and suffering in your team, because as you may remember, Magaki found that hatred is the missing component in awakening Orochi.  To that end, most of Saiki’s pre-fight dialogue is taunting and condescending, not to mention fighting the guy himself can be infuriating, as he is one of my least favorite bosses in the franchise.

The problem starts with his design.  Every previous KOF boss had a cool outfit that made them stand out.  Here, he’s just a nude dude with fire on his hands and feet.  I guess they were going for simplicity or some kind of symbolism of the beginning of man, but it comes off as lame.
I think this boss would be more fun if you had to fight Saiki’s human form first.  His human form has a lot of tricks impossible for most players to pull off: teleporting, complex grabs, and overall being hard to pin down.  That would’ve been a great segue into this stronger form.  Alas, Saiki’s human form wasn’t introduced as playable until the console versions, and you can only potentially fight it as a midboss.  I suppose if he sucked Mukai’s life out, he might as well use all of it to its fullest.  I say that because I’m fairly certain his big red form takes power to maintain, explaining why his humanoid form only briefly morphs for his neo max and taunt.

Saiki truly inherited Mukai’s strategies, because he is cheap cheap cheap!  Similarly to Mukai and Goenitz, Saiki has a devastating grab attack he will use constantly any time you get close.  He picks your character up by the head, punches them in the gut three times, and then swats them away.  That will happen almost every time you ever try the aggressive approach, because he seems to do it with the press of a button!  I thought we’d curbed that bullshit by now!

Lunch money!  Now!

And that’s seriously the only move Saiki has going for him at close range other than a punch and kick.  His other moves have him throwing gobs of black junk or bringing up a little wall of it in front of him.  If any of the black gunk hits you, you’re trapped in place to give him plenty of time to either walk right up to you and gut punch you again or pick a rock up off the ground and fastball it at you for more damage than most projectiles.

Aside from a screen-filling super move similar to Magaki’s, that’s really all Saiki can do: toss gunk and sucker punch you.  Other than that he just has a screen filling neo max.  I expect more from a final boss in a King of Fighters game, which is a shame, because he’s presented really well.
As much as I don’t like his design, I like the way Saiki moves and sounds.  He always stands on his toes on one foot, and when he wins, he crosses his arms and makes a snide remark in a deep, echoing voice that perfectly matches his size and dark look.  I can’t quite make out what he says other than the Japanese word for “human,” but one of the game’s achievements suggests one of his lines is “after all, you’re just trash.”

His theme is pretty good too, having a piano emphasizing his regality, but also a rocking guitar to emphasize the intensity of the situation.

But the fight itself feels anticlimactic.  The only surefire way to beat this S.O.B. is either be perfect in every way or take the most cowardly route possible and crouch guard until he walks close enough for you to do a leg sweep.  Not only does he have a limited arsenal, but he has a stupid AI as well, because he will almost always fall for this!
You have to make sure he’s within leg-sweeping distance though, otherwise he’ll counterattack.  You can occasionally hit him with projectiles (possibly even a super one), if you time them right, but playing close range in a way other than a leg sweep is a no-no.

Some boss, huh?

To quote Noah Antweiler: "What the hell?  Why is this working all of a sudden?  It's like he's totally defenseless and now I'm sweeping the leg like a motherfucker."
With a lot of patience, Saiki can be defeated.  If you were able to get this far with a 60-second timer, that’s even better, because there’s a chance to outlast him and make things go quicker.

If you want to know what happens after you defeat Saiki, too bad!  Looks like you’ll have to play the game!  I promise I will detail KOF 13’s ending at a later date just so I can try and explain it, but until then, I want to give everyone a chance to go play it to the end.

[Update: The second half is finished.  Let me remind you again that you are entering spoiler territory with this link.]

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