#279 The King of Fighters ’94

Posted: 28th February 2015 by Jeroen in Games
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406th played so far

The_King_of_Fighters_'94_-_posterGenre: Fighting
Platform: Arcade/Neo Geo
Year of Release: 1994
Developer: SNK
Publisher: SNK

See that up there? Although we played a different port, this is our first Neo Geo game we’re playing. One for the stats, really, but it was about time. Three out of the four of them on the list are fighting games too.

The King of Fighters series started off, with this game, as a crossover event between several SNK franchises. It seems to be a more common thing now, with the Tekken and Street Fighter franchises having had a high profile crossover recently, but it feels like SNK got in on it early. Even so, it became a series in its own right here.

Our Thoughts

As you probably know by now, I’m not the biggest expert on fighting games. Even now, I’m having trouble explaining too much of what makes the game that special.

First of all, to start, the game is probably the first we’ve played for the blog – certainly chronologically – where you fight in teams. Unlike other, later games, the teams are preset, with the only choice you get being what order you use the three fighters in. Mostly, it makes for slightly more variety than the best out of five rounds setup, in that you have more chance to adjust, even if some features (such as fighter switches) aren’t present.

Unfortunately, because you only get preset teams (presumably based on other franchises… that I don’t know much about), there are some balance issues. While some teams get a nice variety of characters – speed, power and so on – others get three of nearly the same character.

The fighting itself seems mostly solid. Sure, I don’t think I got enough feel to get all the combos, but it felt okay. The AI felt pretty brutal early on, and even lowering the difficulty made it possible to get stun locked. The unbalanced team did us no favours here – it felt like the first time (Chinese, I believe) was overpowered compared to others. If you can’t get past the first, and the third is a big beast that is as tough, it feels like you’re bashing your head against the wall. The fact that the team countries literally meant nothing was also slightly annoying and a tad confusing.

It’s quite possible this was because of the arcade version we played, with the Neo Geo version being more manageable. Certainly, once we lowered the difficulty, Peter got a lot further through the game. It seemed a lot of fun still, even if at the same time, the game doesn’t seem to offer loads more beyond what other games in the genre do. Perhaps one of the first, but by now no longer the best.

Final Thoughts

While the game makes for an interesting first stab at a team-based fighting game, the balance issues feel a bit overwhelming and frustrating. It would genuinely have been a better idea to include a later edition in the book (the thirteenth edition springs to mind). With that said, with any team the game starts off difficult and it seem like we were simply held back because we didn’t know SNK fighters that well.