The King of Fighters 2002
 

 
STORY:  In terms of plot, KOF 2002 does not have a story and was developed as a "dream match" with characters from all previous installments of King of Fighters.
 
REVIEWKing of Fighters 2002 discards the 4-on-4 "Striker Match" format used in the previous three installments and returns its 3-on-3 roots. The theme of this year's team format are teams that represent "each year of the KOF series," and is considered a "Dream Match" (like The King of Fighters '98)... and once again, there's no official storyline.
 

39 selectable characters + 5 more on PS2!

 
This time around, there are actually no new characters introduced. However, classic and fan-favorites make their epic return, including: Yashiro, Shermie, Vice, and Yamazaki. They aren't just old rehashed sprites either, and have a slew of new animations & moves. The newcomers introduced King of Fighters 2001 (Angel & K9999) also make their return. Besides tweaked character priorities and movelists, the main difference found in KOF 2002's gameplay lies in its Power Gauge system.

The amount of Power Gauges the player can stock up is increased by one with each member of the team, with the first member of the team being able to stock up to 3 Power Gauges, while the third member can stock up to five. A single Power Gauge stock can be used to perform a Counterattack and Evasion technique while guarding an opponent's attack, use a Super Special Move, or initiate the MAX Activation state, in which the player's offensive and defensive strength is increased for a short period and can cancel any attack into another. A super special move can also be unleashed without using a power stock while a character is in the MAX Activation state. Max Super Special Moves (requiring 1 stock) and Max 2 moves (requiring 2 stocks) can also be unleashed during Max Activation.
 

Old school team selection screen... love it!

 
As always, the new installment contains brand new backgrounds and some "fan service" cameos as well. KOF 2002 still uses the same old engine... so one might say it's visually lacking when compared to other fighting games of the era. There's still a certain charm to the classic 2D sprites, and while some have been updated significantly, others look ancient (that's bad).  A remake of KOF2002 entitled King of Fighters 2002: Unlimited Match was released in 2009, adding additional playable characters, moves, and backgrounds.
 

It's hard not to stare at Angel's.... y'know.

 

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Page Updated: February 17th, 2014
Developer(s): Breezzasoft
Publisher(s): Playmore/Eolith
Artwork by: Nona, Falcoon
Platform(s): Neo Geo, Dreamcast, Playstation 2, Xbox, XBLA
Release Date(s): October 10th, 2002 (Arcade)
Characters Kyo, Benimaru, Daimon, Terry, Andy, Joe, Leona, Ralf, Clark, Kim, Chang, Choi, Ryo, Robert, Takuma, Athena, Kensou, Chin, Mai, Yuri, May Lee, Iori, Mature, Vice, Yamazaki, Mary, Billy, Yashiro, Shermie, Chris, K', Maxima, Whip, Vanessa, Seth, Ramon, Kula, K9999, Angel, Rugal, Omega Rugal, King (PS2), Shingo (PS2), Orochi Iori (PS2), Geese (PS2), Goenitz (PS2)

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Featured Video:

Related Games: King of Fighters '94, King of Fighters '94: Re-bout, King of Fighters '95, King of Fighters '96, King of Fighters '97, King of Fighters '98, King of Fighters '98 Ultimate Match, King of Fighters '99, King of Fighters 2000, King of Fighters 2001, King of Fighters 2002: Unlimited Match, King of Fighters 2003, King of Fighters XI, King of Fighters XII, King of Fighters XIII, King of Fighters: Maximum Impact, King of Fighters: Maximum Impact MANIAX, King of Fighters: Maximum Impact 2, KOF: Maximum Impact Regulation A, King of Fighters: Neowave, King of Fighters EX Neo Blood, King of Fighters EX2 Howling Blood, King of Fighters R1, King of Fighters R2, King of Fighters Collection: Orochi Saga

Gameplay Engine
 7.5 / 10
Story / Theme
 7.5 / 10
Overall Graphics
 7.5 / 10
Animation
 7 / 10
Music / Sound Effects
 7.5 / 10
Innovation
 7 / 10
Art Direction
 9 / 10
Customization
 8 / 10
Options / Extras
 6 / 10
Intro / Presentation
 7 / 10
Replayability / Fun
 7.5 / 10
"Ouch" Factor
 7.5 / 10
Characters
 9 / 10
BOTTOM LINE

7.9 / 10

 Review based on Arcade version
Final Words:

I got some enjoyment out of KOF 2002... the character selection was solid, but for some reason I still preferred many other 2D fighting games over 2002. The 8-year old graphics & gameplay engine is showing its age, and is easily outshined by other 2D fighters in the time period. However, diehard KOF fans had one of the best installments yet with KOF 2002.

Even though the animation & graphics have slightly improved, in the eyes of many, the KOF series definitely needed "something else" for it to remain competitive in the fighting genre (outside of the hardcore fans). It seems SNK thought so to, as they introduced a fresh 3-on-3 tag team gameplay system in the next installment, King of Fighters 2003.
~TFG Webmaster