Monday, July 15, 2013

The Finale of the KOF 13 Finale

I hope in the time it has taken me to get my laptop back up and running, everyone has played The King of Fighters 13 and sent me piles of money for recommending it to them, because with this post, I will be diving straight into spoiler territory!  It is time to finish this retrospective once and for all!

Even after hacking away at Saiki's ankle like a kung-fu lumberjack, he doesn't seem to be in pain.  I suppose Mukai's "that battle didn't count" status is in effect.
Saiki is troubled though.  No matter how much you fight him, there doesn't seem to be enough power to open the gate.

"Maybe you should try hitting above the belt!"

In fact, the thing starts closing!  If Saiki doesn't go through that gate, bad things will happen... To him.

What's happening is that the door is lacking power.  There isn't enough to hold it open.

You can see there's clearly a sphere there, but remember that the spheres harnessing Orochi's power are below the stadium.  Someone must have removed them from there, but who?  Like an instant answer, Saiki is impaled through the back by a sneak attack.

So he never let his guard down ever before?  You had to wait until he got this close to succeeding?

Finally Ash Crimson starts doing something resembling something heroic by killing Saiki and taking what appears to be his powers/essence/soul/something, much like he did Chizuru and Iori.

With the villain defeated and the gate closing, the day is sa- NOPE!

The name of this new form of Ash is never confirmed.  Even in the character voices gallery it's distinguished from the playable Ash by simply having its name in red.  Some people call him Evil Ash, some Dark Ash, and others.... Bad Ash.

Using Saiki's time-stopping power, Evil Ash makes a huge white field that stops time even further for everything not living inside it (I think).  He is somehow stopping time while time is stopped!  Whatever it is he does, it stops the gate from closing.  He is the true final boss of The King of Fighters 13.  Live and let die!

Sounds like a final boss theme to me.

Evil Ash is essentially a souped-up version of Ash with two of Saiki's super moves.  He's very difficult the first few times you fight him, but after a while you can catch on to his AI patterns.

More than anything, he loves standing the the corner, continuously spamming Ash's flame shot like crazy.  Unlike Ash's move, which can only send out one flame per attack, Evil Ash can send out two, and fire them at a much faster rate.  A lot of the fight will have you guarding in a corner while he hammers away at you with them.  After every few shots though he stops and takes a moment to walk back, giving you a good moment to nail him with a projectile (possibly a Neo Max) or close your distance with him.

When you get close, Ash starts using his close-ranged attacks, one of which is a deadly new move in which he dashes past you, deals a chunk of damage, and disables all your special moves!
Obviously the purely offensive approach couldn't be a dumber idea.  Getting close and counterattacking with patience is essential in fighting Evil Ash.  By counterattacking, I of course mean...

Leg Sweeping.  Yep.  Evil Ash inherited Saiki's Achille's heel.  The difference here is that Evil Ash tends to walk away from you, whereas Saiki eventually got close enough to leg sweep, which means you need to take measures into your own hands and get up close yourself.  Since Evil Ash is also more offensive than Saiki, you'll have to do more guarding this time around as well.

In arcade mode, I usually suggest the coward's way out by using a continue bonus to get his health down to 25% and timing him out by guarding constantly.  In story mode, however, there are no such bonuses, so you'll have to beat him fair and square.  Always remember to sweep the leg with proper timing, be patient, and he'll eventually go down... If you're playing at a low difficulty... After 12 tries.

I must say, this isn't as grand a finale as I'd like.  Instead of fighting some brand-new character like Mukai and Magaki were, we just fight what's little more than a stronger version of a regular character you have to use cheap tactics to beat.  It's a bit of a letdown to a great saga in the King of Fighters storyline, even if the story arc itself is really quite good.  Even Kyo knows it.

After Evil Ash is defeated, the game practically ignores your victory and has Evil Ash get ready to enter the gate.  However, he stops.  Apparently there's an argument going on inside his head.  Have you ever had one of those?  I have.

Saiki tells the boy that he shouldn't resist.  After all...
I guess there's no wardrobe in the center of the mind.

And that one comment is the big revelation.  Saiki looks like Ash because he's Ash's time-traveling immortal ancestor.  All this time, through all his betrayal and deception, Ash was just trying to get close to his ancestor so that he could stop him from going through the gate and changing the future.
You'd think he could have told someone about his little plan so that everyone wouldn't be against him, but he must have thought that taking the sacred treasures would get Saiki to trust him even after playing both sides to stay unpredictable.
In the end, Ash finally succeeds.

The gate closes, leaving Saiki and Ash both stuck in the present time.  As Ash tells Saiki about how Saiki doesn't know anything about him, a furious Saiki panics about a time paradox.

This is where things get really confusing, so here's my interpretation: in the past, Saiki traveled to the future where this whole shebang started.  Ordinarily, this Saiki of the future would replace him in a time loop to write the new future with the knowledge he has.  Since he didn't pass through the gate, now there's no Saiki in the past.  With no Saiki in the past, there's no Saiki in the future, no Those From the Distant Land (organized, anyway) and... No Ash.  If anyone has a better explanation, I'd love to hear it.

And with that, the tragic hero vanishes.  What essentially happens next, as described in many endings, is history rewrites itself to exclude Ash, Saiki and Those From the Distant Land.  It's the textbook definition of a cosmic retcon.  It's like God just threw out the book on time travel logic and took all that nonsense out entirely. The game hints that it's more like there's a gap in each character's memory where the erased characters were, which just makes things even more confusing if you think about it too hard.

This does possibly explain why Ash acted like such a jerk: because no one would even remember him acting that way if his plan succeeded.  He had nothing to lose.  It's kind of sad, really.  With the hero and villain both wiped from existence, there seem to be no more conflicts (that aren't usual, anyway), and Chizuru and Iori both have their powers again.  Everything is right with the world.

Or is it?!

Get every scene in King of Fighters 13's story mode, and you'll get one extra stinger!  It's a great note to end the game on and I couldn't be more excited for the next King of Fighters!  Thank you all for joining me on this epic retrospective, and may you enjoy The King of Fighters for years to come.

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