King of Fighters XIV
has become a major business, generating huge profits and numerous spin-off
tournaments worldwide. However, this led to a lowering of the overall quality,
and voices began to rise across the globe demanding the formation of one unique,
worldwide KOF competition. One day, a billionaire claiming to be the "first
champion" bought out all of the rights for the KOF Tournament. His name:
Antonov. The announcement of a new KOF Tournament by the self-proclaimed
champion created unprecedented enthusiasm around the world. From there, this
excitement reached many of the classic participants of the legendary tournament
directly in the form of an official invitation...
been nearly 5 years since The King of Fighters XIII
consoles (Nov. 2011). The beautiful 2D sprite-based prequel had respectable success among
casual and tournament-level players alike. Unfortunately, KOF XIII's lack of a
solid online mode on consoles hindered the title's competitive lifespan early
on... and KOF XIII
fell into obscurity before it could really take off. Many traditional fans were hoping for
another eventual 2D
update to XIII's (and XII's) gorgeous art style, but SNK
daringly took the series
into the realm of 3D visuals (for a second time) with XIV. As controversial as
the new visual direction may be, thanks to the convenience of a 3D graphics engine, SNK was able to
deliver an astounding 50 characters at launch. This is undeniably an impressive
feat, and accomplished without a soul uttering those infamous 3 letters... "DLC".
lack of post-launch DLC content for KOF XIV could prove to be one of the game's
biggest flaws, but it's too early to say.)
KOF XIV joins PS4's growing fighting game library as yet another exclusive for the system. While not
nearly as visually vibrant as Guilty Gear Xrd
-REVELATOR- or nearly as popular as Street Fighter V, King of
Fighters XIV caters to a passionate niche community and delivers the goods that
veteran 2D fighting game fans would expect. KOF XIV
follows a familiar formula of many
past SNK and 2D fighting game releases. A huge roster at launch, an impressive
variety of colorful stages, more than enough "standard" modes, and
some cool throwbacks & cameos for the old school fans. For what it's worth,
any "fighting game fan"
out there who might've recently complained about "particular" fighting games not having enough
content at launch,
charging for extra characters, or not keeping their promises better buy KOF XIV.
(You better buy it and love
every detail SNK packed in.)
I love large character
rosters in fighting games. In some ways, 50 characters from the start is almost too much to take in at once.
Not to mention, players don't have to unlock any of the characters. (On that note, I think an
unlocking system would've worked well for KOF XIV... but, of course, the inclusion
of an unlocking system arguably wouldn't be "convenient" for the
tournament community.) Anyhow,
solidly learning one character's combo
potential and ever-so-subtle playstyle strengths can take some time, not to mention getting even
one full team of three "competitive-ready". Of course, if you're a casual player and
just mash around with buttons to learn a new character... this won't bother you, and
you'll just love trying out all 50 fighters. To everyone else, your work is
surely cut out for you!
returning veterans and 19 brand new characters for a total of 50 fighters!
One thing SNK did absolutely right with King
of Fighters XIV, is that KOF XIV stays true to the series
2D gameplay roots very closely (something that SNK promised early on in
the game's development). KOF XIV keeps a similar pace to its
sprite-based prequels, and even specific character combos look and feel exactly
as they do in previous games. For "tradition-demanding" 2D fans, this is a very
good thing. Some of KOF XIV's mechanics include: A
new MAX mode enabling limited access to EX moves (costing 1 meter), an
auto-combo system called "Rush Mode" enabling easy combos using only
the light punch button (naturally a beginner-friendly mechanic) and, finally,
hard-hitting C+D thrust attacks (causing opponents to be knocked against the wall and
become vulnerable to follow-up attacks and combos).
After experimenting with my old favorite characters in the lab, I came to the conclusion early on that
KOF XIV's combo system is
FUN... Quite fun. Even as an SNK / NeoGeo fan since the very beginning, I never
found myself particularly "in love" with previous iterations of KOF's combo
or gauge systems... but XIV streamlines everything. The new MAX mode
keeps the action frantic (as players can go ham unleashing powerful EX moves for
a limited time), and intuitively opens the door to some easy setups for flashy and damaging combos.
The returning MAX Cancel system is also a fun novelty. Deciding the best possible moment to cancel supers
(into more powerful supers) is a satisfyingly nasty way to punish opponents if
you have the extra meter to burn.
potential "flaw" in KOF14's combo system (something that may bother certain
players) is that certain combos require VERY FAST inputs (keeping in tradition with the series history, of
course). In short, sometimes you
really need to desperately "crank out" those multiple quarter-circle
motions to connect some of the more advanced combos... which could
potentially lead to
nasty hand cramps (or pre-arthritis).
(I exaggerate of course, but don't say I didn't warn you!)
always enjoyed KOF's "multiple jumps" system ever-so-slightly more than
Street Fighter's jump system.
Small Jump, Medium Jump and Large jump return in KOF XIV, in addition to a
few special jumps while running. As always, these can be used to set up dynamic
air attacks and keeps the "aged" 2D gameplay more dynamic. Auto-combos / Rush Mode (now a
staple in 2D anime fighters these days) is actually implemented pretty well in KOF
XIV. Where KOF XIV's auto-combos differ from some other 2D games is that
the "normals" within each
character's Rush combo are 100% unique moves, which don't even appear in their
default moveset (meaning you can't even perform said combo manually... it's
interesting that SNK put unique effort into this mechanic, and it pays off
visually. A part of me still doesn't like to accept these mash-friendly
"1-button" auto combos (complete with super move finish) as the new
norm, but I understand making a fighting game accessible to beginners is an
important aspect these days.
As you might've noticed, KOF XIV's super moves and Climax
supers bring "epic camera angles" to the series for the first time
ever. While not nearly as polished or as fleshed out as SFV's or GGXrd's,
the dynamic camera angles add some nice "pop" to many classic KOF
super moves and help distinguish each character's in-game persona, for the most
part. (Some are better than others.)
FUN FACT: If you noticed that KOF XIV takes a few cues from the Street
Fighter IV formula, you're right. In fact, Yasuyuki Oda (SFIV battle designer, Super
SFIV game designer, SFIV: Arcade Edition director, and Garou:
MOTW battle designer) was the director of KOF14. Before joining Dimps to work on Street Fighter 4, Oda was employed by SNK
world's fate hangs in the balance... and you guys are worried about dim
KOF XIV's Story Mode is....
slightly odd. The
intro features well-produced cinematics starring the enigmatic organizer of the KOF
XIV tournament, the ultra-buff "Triple H look-alike" known as Antonov. The
"odd" part is the way in which character interactions are implemented.
Seeing specific character interactions solely depends on your team's layout. While this
keeps things unpredictable (sort of a good thing?)... it doesn't present
players with any kind of clear path during a Story Mode play-through, leaving it to "chance" that
characters encounter and exchange dialogue. For better or worse, players
potentially have to play the 9-round Story Mode repeatedly with the SAME
characters to view all of the potential interactions. (Of course, they could just watch a Youtube
video or two which covers them all, but Youtubing something should not have any relevance in a game review).
Of course, KOF just wouldn't be KOF without a nonsensical, ridiculously overpowered
blob of a boss waiting for you at the end of Story Mode. (You can read my
character review of Verse to see how I really feel about him.)
Thankfully, completing Story Mode with a
specific team earns you an exclusive ending for that team. Endings have
pretty cool artwork with text (sometimes entertaining, sometimes not so much),
and some feature great SNK cameos.
Some of KOF XIV's other modes include: Tutorial, Training, Survival, Time
Attack, and Online.
Online features the typical Ranked and Free Match, but also offers Online
Training and a unique 6-player Online VS "Party Battle".
Tutorial is a nice addition for the series and gets the job done. It is
narrated by Antanov, as he runs you through all fundamentals, attack options and gameplay systems. Mission features 5 combo trials for every
character in the game (10 would've been nicer). The combo trials serve their
purpose in helping you learn a character, but I noticed a few of the trials
actually seem rather bone-headed (as there are oftentimes "more
practical" combo options to obtain similar damage)... I think they rushed this
mode a bit. Also, some command trials
confusingly list the "wrong" directional input, as they need to be done backwards in some instances. (An
experienced player will figure these out eventually, but I could imagine some
players getting frustrated). Additionally, certain MAX super cancels within
trials want you to "wait longer" than others to complete the
combo, and this important detail isn't specified anywhere... so basically,
it's trial & error until you get it right. (The Demo Play option will help if
you get stuck on these). My final complaint about Trials may seem petty... but
there's NO PRIZE or TROPHY for completing ALL TRIALS for ALL 50
As far as Online Mode, I'll start with the good news first... the netcode is a
vast improvement over XIII's and I've had some "smooth as
glass" online matches. Unfortunately, only a few months after release, I can already hear the distant
chirping of crickets in online
mode. Finding a match takes longer than it should (at least during the late
hours that I usually play), and the design of the battle lobbies leave something
to be desired. Lobbies aren't only sleepy and generic-looking, but perhaps
slightly overly-ambitious. 12-player battle lobbies broken up into 3 different
match types? Three separate
categories of Single VS, Team VS, and Party VS? Definite props to SNK for the
effort... but I haven't seen even one KOF14 battle lobby filled
up even halfway. I don't blame KOF's popularity in general for this, but
perhaps the unappealing design of XIV's online mode itself. It just
doesn't "look" fun... and the overwhelming
amount of options makes things feel a bit crowded and possibly too
overly-complicated for players to invest in. At least inviting and playing
a friend in private is a smooth experience, and that might be all you need to
enjoy KOF XIV online.
sorely missing mode in KOF XIV is Color Edit Mode. Everyone
loves Color Edit Mode. KOF XIV characters currently only have 4 colors, and
these lonely 4 color options are particularly plain and some would say a little boring.
Given the fact that KOF XIV has 3D graphics, a Color Edit Mode would've
fit perfectly! Fingers crossed for the addition of the mode via DLC... but
perhaps they'd rather sell new colors as DLC down the road, following the example of
Capcom and Arc System Works?
If you ask me, I'd rather SNK takes the Bandai
Namco approach, with Color Edit coming standard in past TEKKEN and Soul Calibur
installments for the last 10 years. XIV's other various modes and options aren't
bad, such as Gallery where you can unlock and view tons of classic KOF artwork (just in case your
internet's out and you can't log on to TFG).
you will about KOF14's graphics... but at least they're not using 90's
Obviously, one of the main things
KOF XIV has going for it, over its most recent competition
in SFV and Xrd -REVELATOR-, is its massive character roster. If
you want my opinion of KOF XIV's newcomers, you can of course read each
individual character overview via their TFG profiles.
In general, I'll say that the newcomers are a mixed bag... as expected. Some
newcomers seem to be "trying too hard" to fit into the KOF
world, while others seem like they're not quite trying hard enough... (*cough*
some are kinda on the boring side if you ask me. *cough*). Furthermore,
Sylvie, Shun'ei & Meitenkun seem a bit too anime (or 'weebish' as some would
say) for the series, but most new designs might surprise you if you give them a
chance, for better or worse. My favorite newcomers, you ask? Kukri, Luong,
Bandeiras, Antonov, and that crazy Xanadu... why not.
SNK made pretty good choices on the returning veteran. When some companies
reboot classic franchises, some returning characters arguably go through too
many changes (either in their movesets or visually) which tarnishes their
classic vibe and overall appeal. Thankfully, KOF's veterans retain
practically ALL of their best moves from past iterations! Like I
always say, good characters don't need to change much. SNK amazed me with how
well their classic 2D animations translated into the 3D engine. And thankfully, none of them have that wonky "Maximum
Impact effect," if you know what I mean.
In my opinion, SNK's latest venture into 3D also helped the KOF series
shake off some of the "stiffness" that plagued some earlier titles.
Compare for yourself if you must... but KOF XIV's character models
actually animate and move around more
smoothly than in many past 2D installments. Even as a
lover of 2D sprites, I think there would be far and few
between who would prefer 94'-2003' style graphics over KOF XIV's in this
day and age. Honestly, the vast majority of moves look just as good, if not better than
their BEST sprite-based counterparts (and that's no easy task). Most
characters have 2 variations of their super moves: a classic version, and a
powered-up (MAX version) with epic camera angles. So even the folks wearing
their trusty "nostalgia glasses" can't even complain!
And if you're keeping count, SNK "one-upped" Capcom's SFV by including more than one
"cinematic" super move for each character!
NOWHERE!!!! Nice camera angle on the RKO.... AKO?
To close out this review,
let's talk about
KOF14's overall graphics.... To start on
the positives... projectiles, flames, smoke, and other special move effects look
EXCELLENT! Among the best of the
Character models look proportionally correct for KOF's trademark style
and are put together nicely. The musculature anatomy of bare-chested
fighters looks smooth around the edges and spot on. Females are properly curvy
in the right areas and have appropriately soft facial features (no Mortal
Kombat-style man-face problems). The variety of clothing textures are also
impressive when you look close and clothing animations aren't half bad. The hair of KOF XIV
characters actually looks a bit better than SFV
characters' hair in still shots, but in motion, KOF XIV hair appears stiffer and has
less-impressive animations. As glitchy as SFV's hair is at times, SFV clothing and hair animation has KOF XIV's
number... but at least KOF XIV hair looks less like plastic, clay,
Overall, KOF XIV character models look good in battle, but many
of them appear less-flattering "up close" on the Victory screen
(and in Story Mode dialogue cutscenes). Using 2D artworks for the Victory screen would've
been more ideal (that is, if they made victory art for this game).
Alas, XIV's "clean" skin textures at least remind me of many classic artworks.
On that note, you can notice in the KOF XIV character
portraits that every member of XIV's cast looks
like they're posing for the cover of (insert feminine beauty magazine here)...
even the men, of course.
Even "rough and tough" badasses like Clark, Ryo, Maxima, and Chang have perfectly refined, exfoliated, soft-to-the-touch faces
(obviously caked with makeup to cover their imperfections, from you know...
fighting). Their faces are so baby-ass smooth, they could even compete in a
pageant with male characters from the DOA series! (Cheap
SNK offered up a solid variety of stages, some with entertaining background
characters, others a bit more quiet and sleepy... but all of them are stylish in
their own way, and as high quality as I'd expect from a KOF title. The 3D
backgrounds appear mostly sharp and
smooth, but some characters, with certain color combinations, have
off-the-charts BAD aliasing (pick Terry's black costume and you'll see what I
mean). At the end of the day, KOF XIV
is competitive with SFV's graphics quality on PS4... but SFV still gets the edge
due to better lighting effects, character model quality, and overall animation quality.
Also, it's official: KOF characters never ever ever age... unless they age backwards. Kyo
Kusanagi actually looks a few years younger than his KOF
'94 appearance. Just wow. Yeah,
the faces could be better for sure.
Iori Yagami, Leona
Heidern, Chang Koehan, Andy
Bogard, Angel, King,
Billy Kane, Ralf
Jones, Kula Diamond, K',
Garcia, Terry Bogard, Clark
Still, Maxima, Tung Fu Rue, Choi
Bounge, Chin Gentsai, Kim
Kaphwan, Vice, Athena
Geese Howard, Ryo
Sakazaki, Joe Higashi, Mai
Shiranui, Goro Daimon,
Sakazaki, Ramon, Sie
King of Dinosaurs, Sylvie,
Mui Mui, Kukri, Bandeiras
Hattori, Hein, Gang-Il,
Xanadu, Meitenkun, Shun'ei,
Heart, Mian, Zarina,
Rock Howard (DLC)
XIII, KOF XII,
KOF XI, KOF '94, KOF '94: Re-bout,
KOF '96, KOF '97, KOF
'98, KOF '98 Ultimate Match, KOF '99, KOF 2000, KOF 2001, KOF 2002, KOF 2002
Unlimited Match, KOF 2003, KOF:
Maximum Impact, KOF:
Maximum Impact MANIAX, KOF:
Maximum Impact 2, KOF: Maximum Impact
Regulation A, KOF: Neowave, KOF EX Neo Blood,
KOF EX2 Howling Blood,
R1, KOF R2, KOF Collection: Orochi Saga
, Yatagarasu: Attack on Cataclysm,
Dou Zhi Wang, Under
Night In-Birth EXE:Late[st], Blazblue:
Central Fiction, Guilty Gear
Xrd -REVELATOR-, Street Fighter 5, Tekken
8.5 / 10
8.0 / 10
7.5 / 10
8.5 / 10
/ Sound Effects
7.0 / 10
7.0 / 10
7.5 / 10
5.5 / 10
Options / Extras
7.0 / 10
Intro / Presentation
7.0 / 10
Replayability / Fun
7.5 / 10
8.5 / 10
8.5 / 10
Review based on PS4 version
to SNK for putting out a "complete" King of Fighters sequel
on launch day,
featuring 100% new content in every aspect. We've missed you, SNK.
Did King of Fighters XIV have a smoother and more honest launch than Street
Fighter V? Absolutely. Worth mentioning, Capcom's enthusiastic DLC support for SFV
has evolved and improved SFV tremendously since its rocky launch, and thankfully,
SNK has matched Capcom's strategy (for one) by supporting KOF XIV with
great new content into 2017! Some would even say SNK's DLC for KOF XIV
is outdoing Capcom's in SFV.
On that note, SNK's choices for DLC fighters is something out of a NeoGeo
fan's dream. Does SNK read TFG reviews or something?!?
Yamazaki, Vanessa, and Rock Howard would've been my top 3
personal picks as DLC characters! Anyone who reads TFG reviews would know
this. SNK makes dreams come true. *Applause* The new DLC stages based
on classic locations are cool too, and they're free. KOF XIV is already
more awesome than I was expecting, but I'd love to see them continue their
support for the game even further (because they're doing superb work)! Support
everyone else, I had some healthy skepticism of KOF XIV after watching the first few,
cringe-worthy trailers... but the final build of the game really shaped up nicely. SNK successfully
rebooted the classic KOF formula in 3D, arguably for the first time
ever. (Some would argue the Maximum Impact series was a success, but
many would disagree... so I'll just leave that one alone).
That said, KOF14 is actually the first "true" 2.5D King of
Fighters game. When all is said and done, KOF XIV is probably the
most accessible and easy-to-play King of Fighters game to date!
Every fighting game of this generation seems to get an "automatic bad rap" from
nitpicky fighting game community members, particularly in a specific category
or two. The "vice" that triggered KOF XIV critics early on was its
less-than-spectacular 3D graphics engine. Some
fans even cried "PS2-era character models"... but a quick comparison with
any Maximum Impact title will bring those trolls back to reality.
followed the series' official art style over the years, you'll remember a
lot of "clean" textures in the artwork, along with the trademark pretty faces and dynamic poses. All of these elements are
actually present in KOF XIV's overall graphics style, which shows off particularly "clean-looking" 3D models.
Yes, old school KOF 2D sprites are enjoyable still to this day. I
think 98% of KOF players would've been just peachy with SNK bringing back
"KOF XIII style" sprites at least one more time
for a new title. They were growing the roster nicely in
XIII and could've added plenty more fan favorites in that epic art style.
I for one was dying to see Yamazaki, Lin, Rock & Vanessa in that style. Alas, SNK decided 3D was the best option, and maybe it was the
better choice to stay competitive in the over-saturated genre. Hand drawn 2D
sprites take an unfathomable amount of work and especially time
to perfect, so going 3D is a smart move in this era.
I'm not sure anyone enjoys 2D sprites
more than me, as collecting, posting, and organizing 2D character sprites for
the last 15+ years
on this very website is something that I'm proud of. (And if you've been visiting this website that
long, you must love 2D sprites too.)
But even being such a lover of 2D sprites... does that mean that I can't
enjoy 3D graphics (not to mention 3D graphics which are closely based on classic
2D sprites)? Hell no. We all love the 2D sprites... but releasing a third sprite-based sequel off of
KOF XIII might've come off as monotonous. I commend SNK for trying their
hand again at 2.5D/3D once again, and they did a great job considering how quickly
the game was released and how many characters they packed into the title. Also,
random additional props to SNK for releasing a KOF XIV demo on PS4. It actually
brought back some ancient memories of downloading the KOF '94 (or KOF '95?) demo on
PS1 way back in the day.
Of course, people can still complain about KOF XIV's 3D graphics if they so
desire and say the game "looks like shit" (which it doesn't)... but let's not forget the
series ('94-2003), in addition to some spin-offs, kept the same "dated" graphics style & sprites
for well over a decade.
Did people still love KOF and play it for years regardless? Yes. So...
isn't it a bit silly to be so concerned with graphics when it comes to
the KOF series? Yes.
It sure is. Also,
people should keep in mind not every 2.5D fighting game of this generation is
going to look as groundbreaking as GGXrd -SIGN-. And let's not forget GGXrd
originally had 17
characters at launch as opposed to KOF14's 50! It's all about
Can we be done talking about graphics now...
I don't usually spend that much time in a single category, but I felt it was necessary
address KOF XIV's most prominent negative stigma. I actually wanted to
talk more about KOF XIV's balance update, but I don't have a solid
opinion as of yet. As a K' main, I was definitely disappointed to see him
nerfed so bad... but I'm not one to complain about nerfs and buffs. Once I
play a bit more online, I'll update this paragraph with my opinion of the
game's overall balance. Stay tuned. ;)
If KOF XIV is any indication of SNK's "rebirth" in the fighting game
realm, I'm definitely excited. Their first 3D effort in nearly
10 years might not be perfect, but it's a hell of a step in the right
direction! If SNK doesn't deliver some DLC characters to KOF XIV,
then I'm already looking forward to KOF XV... not to mention a
Samurai Shodown reboot and maybe even a proper Fatal Fury / Garou reboot.
In closing, there's a lot to love about KOF XIV... and if you're a fan of
tried-and-true 2D fighters, you'd be dumb not to support SNK and this game. On
that note, congrats (again) to SNK for selling over 100,000 copies of KOF