Strikers, did you said Strikers?
by Tibe (2014)
After the climax reached with the sublime The King of Fighters 98 and its forty-two characters, SNK was to renew the series with the 1999 crop. And the company achieved this feat in two ways: by bringing new blood on the one hand, and including new gameplay mechanics on the other hand. The scenario of the saga comes to a new upheaval: among the Japan Team, only Benimaru received an invitation to the tournament this year, putting him into a team with Maxima and K', two totally unknown until fighters... On his side, Heidern quickly begins to feed suspicions against the organizers of the event, and he decides to send Ralf and Clark undercover. This strange organization at the head of which is the mysterious "Zero", and around which a dark history of human cloning is whispered...
The big news in this KOF is the first appearance of "Strikers". The rules have changed a bit : now, in addition to the traditional team of three fighters, a fourth warrior can be selected. This can involve at any time during the combat when the player calls him ( by pressing B+C). This ability, however, has to be used sparingly, as it's available in limited quantity: between three and five interventions can be performed throughout the whole match. Still on the side of innovations, there's no less than seven new characters: the iconic K', the sturdy Maxima, Whip the "gorgeous slut", Jhun, a martial arts expert and friend of Kim Kaph Hwan ... but there's also Bao, a young fighter who joined the team of Athena, and the already known Lin Fei Xian (Real Bout 2) and Kasumi Todoh (Art of Fighting 3). Some emblematic figures temporarily disappear from the roster (Daimon, Yamazaki, Orochi and USA teams, etc) to bring the roster to thirty-two characters. And among them, three different versions of Kyo! The hero is available with his KOF 94, KOF 96 and actual range of moves. It is a small decline since the 98' opus, but compared to the other competitors in the VS fighting world, this episode is still a monster.
The gameplay has undergone some slight modifications : besides the appearance of the famous "Strikers" and the plethora of combos and tactics appearing with this option, our 99' still features the legion of combinations available in the previous episodes. The " roll-back " (performed with back + AB ), which is an effective dodge, should be used a little differently : the character is now going automatically forward in the end of the process, unless you trigger a special before it. The ' power' is stored in the way the "Advanced" mode did in previous episodes. Moreover, this one and also the "Extra " were replaced by "Counter" and "Armor", offering a new strategic approach. The first is triggered with ABC and provides more power and the ability to perform the Ultimate SDM at will. The second is set with BCD and makes your character ultra- resistant to enemy attacks, allowing him to move forward and ignore the blows received. These two abilities consume three gauges power and last about ten seconds ... Make good use!
The realization of The King of Fighters 99 suffers no major criticism , but with this saga we're getting used to it! The animation is flawless: smooth, broken, fast... fighting doesn't lack intensity and even the interface is dynamic. The backgrounds are very lively , including a lot of effects (shadows, lighting effects, water, jet engine...), including the park location in which it starts to rain : gorgeous! The quality is outstanding, by cons for quantity, we can forget about it: only six sets are available! On the other hand , the characters' sprites have little or not changed since 98', and "newcomers" are perfectly integrated. Note that portraits of our heroes are among the finest ever made in the saga. The soundtrack is just as powerful as usual, but with much less different themes than before. This KOF game is - once will not hurt - a real bomb, and if not the best ever, remains a piece of choice.
|The backgrounds are among the most beautiful ever seen in the series, but they're too few: only six total! Besides, the characters are still gorgeously drawn and their portraits are sublime.|
|Animation didn't moved since KOF 98: the decomposition is excellent and the action dynamic. Only the menus and intermediary screens have been reworked to be more punchy, and it's great.|
|The amount of melodies is far inferior to KOF 98, but the quality is here. Themes are beautiful and catchy, whereas the effects and voices are even better than in the previous opus.|
|The scenario is taking and the game features thirty-two warriors, including three different Kyo. Anyway, SNK worked hard to provide no less than seven new characters, almost all very interesting to discover.|
|The saga welcomes the strikers that can interpose in the combats, providing a lot of new combos and techniques. The gameplay is still in the line of the sage, close to 98' episode,|
|KOF 99 renews the saga, featuring a brand new striker system and seven newcomers.|
VALUE FOR MONEY (2014)
The King of Fighters 99 costs 90 euros "only" but it's unfortunately vampirized by the 2000 episode, which borrowed its new gameplay bases and the strikers system while consistently improving it.