| paleface [sys=DC; cat=Fighting; loc=JPN] |
|Download added: disc.jpg (20440 bytes)|
A port of King of Fighters '98, confusingly enough; the eventual '99 DC port would be called "'99 Evolution."
KOF '98 is regarded by many long-time KOF fans as the pinnacle of the series, despite the fact that it has no story (which for KOF usually consists mostly of little slideshows for each team of three fighters at the end of the game). The fact that it has something like 38 playable characters, a record for the series at the time, may have something to do with this; it is known as a "Dream Match," meaning that they felt free to include characters from any point in the story, even those who had been killed off earlier (like Vice and Mature, apparently).
So, it had a lot of characters. But '98 has more than that going for it; after all, 40+ rosters became the standard for the SD KOFs after 2000, and for the most part those aren't as revered, possibly with the exception of XI. What '98 has, for me, is the best expression of the feeling of exuberance that played a crucial role in the early KOFs: the characters are street punks, but lovable ones, with personality quirks, back-talk, and special animations for specific matchups: for instance, two characters who are romantically involved may blush to each other before they fight, two rivals may strike particularly tough-guy poses, etc. They're really into fighting, but they're not mean about it, and they aren't really bad people, possibly with the exception of the boss, who is the usual SNK royal-pain-in-the-butt. They seem excited, happy to be there, and eager to "get it on" as the tough but possibly a bit naive Terry might say.
This glad fighting spirit suffuses the game, from the kicking rock/jazz soundtrack (you won't find me saying that phrase often!), to the aforementioned personal taunts and exchanges, and to the colorful and varied Japanese stage designs, most of them set in urban city environments, with lots of detail in them.
This DC port took the arcade 2D backgrounds and converted them into 3D, and they came out really well; they are very faithful to the originals, but have more depth and smoother animation, without clashing with the foreground sprites; it's an interesting technique used here, where a subtle type of dithering covers the rendering of the background, and comes very close to matching the dithered/banded look of the 16-color character sprites. Palettes are very similar between foreground and background, and both share the same resolution; you may not even realize the backgrounds are 3D at first, because they match the character sprites so well.
I'm not all that keen on the Arcade mode here due to the jerk of a boss waiting at the end, and lack of unique story elements, but there's also a Survival mode, which is a little interesting since scoring in it is based on how quickly you can complete the gauntlet of 38 opponents, who come at you in their standard 3-man teams (I'm not sure who the last two are, haven't got that far yet :P). Oh, and to be fair to Arcade mode, it has a nice feature that lets you save at the end of your game, so you can pick it right back up later where you left off.
A lot of the characters are sort of early duds that I never really got to liking, like Chizuru, for instance, and the weird US Sports team--so weird they're kind of adorable, I guess, but not ones I'd pick for long-term play--but there are plenty beside them to like, and none of the brooding dullards that would round out the rosters of later KOFs.
Oh yeah, DM1999 also has a link-up mode, where using SNK's proprietary link-up cable you could link it to eh I think it was King of Fighters R-1 on the portable NGPC, and like, unlock things or get credits or something in that game. The disc cover of the Japanese version even has the cute little NGPC sprite of Iori on it, aww!
KOF '98 had you pick either "Advanced" or "Extra" mode when choosing a character. "Advanced," the default, lets you store up to three super move charges, which you accumulate by hitting opponents, and, by hitting the first three buttons, you can power up your character for a short time, doing probably more damage, or something. "Extra" mode, on the other hand, only allows one super charge, but besides charging it by taking damage (slow and painful), you can also hold some buttons to charge it manually, and once charged, it makes you powered up, and you can fire off a super; a bunch of the early KOFs had manual super meter charging, but I never liked it--too much bother. Also, you can't roll in Extra mode, but can only do a momentary dodge or something. Not so keen on Extra mode.
The sort of annoying Extra mode notwithstanding, the fighting in this KOF feels very solid, no doubt another reason for its enduring popularity. There are none of the later complications like tagging or strikers or ratios or whatnot, just teams of three bashing each other one at a time, and it feels nice. The effects aren't spectacular by later standards, but they fit the characters well; the animation isn't great by certain measures, either, but the timing is spot-on, and many of the zippy two-frame animations have great pop and zest, aided by peppy sound effects. Oh yeah, another thing about this KOF is that most of the characters have good amounts of special moves, adding quite a bit of character-specific variety to gameplay. And this is KOF before they did annoying things like converting some of Terry and Robert's moves to charge moves. It's a system that feels intuitive and reliable, while giving you a lot of freedom of movement and individual variety. Fun stuff.
DM1999 also has a Practice mode, but it's relatively bare-bones, and unlike later SNK ports, you can't set it up to have the CPU battle itself ("Watch" mode). This port also doesn't have a bonus puzzle game (their later ports tended to) and doesn't support the DC's VGA cable. Oh yeah, and SNK splurged on a long anime intro for the game, which is pretty well done, particularly when compared with some of SNK's other forays into film animation.
The Japanese version of the port has full English text support for menus, win quotes, etc. The disc cover is cooler than the US version, with a large picture of Iori flanked by a list of the names of all of the characters in the game, and then a tiny little super-deformed NGPC Iori sprite standing at the ready on top of the DC logo box.
|Oh well obviously the last two in Survival mode would be the two guys who aren't on a team, namely the boss and er was it Shingo? Anyway... So probably the boss is in there, which makes this Time Attack Survival mode (as it is called in the next port) not such a great option for a boss-hating fella like me, except for the fact that I probably won't get that far, even though you can continue in this one, which is sort of unusual for Survival modes.|
Forgot to mention that the graphical enhancements also include adding transparency to effect sprites like fireballs and so forth, and this looks pretty decent.
There are no in-game move lists, which is a drawback particularly in a game like this with so many characters with so many moves.
| paleface 17:24:32 08/21/09 [relations updated] |
|Whoops, it's KOF R-2 on the NGPC that this game links to. Linking can unlock gallery artwork for you in DM'99, and give you skills in the character building mode in R-2.|
DM'99 can also link (I'm getting this link info from GameFAQs by the way) to Match of the Millennium on NGPC (see entry 421), giving you points in MotM's Olympics mode.