| paleface [sys=PS2; cat=Fighting; loc=JPN] |
|Many of the advances in this latest edition of the regular fighting game, ported from Atomiswave arcade, are too technical for me to appreciate personally--things like the new meter used just for Guard Cancels and other tricky things--but even aside from the technical improvements, the game is just a lot of fun. There are an incredible amount of playable characters, including fun characters from previous SNK games that I never thought I'd see again in a KOF--characters such as Duck King and B. Jenet--you can swap out between three characters on the fly for very dynamic matches, the speed of the action seems ratcheted up a bit, and the control is amazingly responsive.|
I'm not overly fond of the bubblicious, flat UI (and why don't they print the character names next to the portraits?), and too many of the backgrounds--which incorporate 3D elements--are bland, but there is at least progressive-scan support here.
That weird semi-circle dangling off the bottom of the round timer is supposed to show which side is fighting "better," and decides the winner if the timer runs out, irregardless of who has more health. The action was so fast that this wasn't really a factor when I was playing against the AI, though.
There are new characters, too, and although I find some of his moves kind of tricky to perform, I really like the lanky guy in black who throws playing cards; still not really "classic" KOF-style street punk, but inventive and stylish, and superior to many of the other new character designs added to the series in recent years.
All the usual modes are here, plus a "challenge" mode that presents you with 40 or so pre-set fights with arbitrary rule sets, arranged in order of escalating difficulty, but which can be played in any order desired. This is nice because beating certain of them is one of the primary ways of many of the large amount of unlockable characters; the last one is a real pain (beat Terry using Geese, but you can only hurt him with Geese's counter throw move), but happily, if you fail it enough times, then quit back to the menu, the character it holds unlocks for you out of pity. Yay for pity!
The fast, well-thought-out gameplay, the wonderful control, and the huge character roster will have this one tempting me to play it for quite some time. The upgrade in arcade hardware really seems to have lit a fire under SNK.
|Download added: disc.jpg (20932 bytes)|
This game is the balls, the jam, the business. Freaking fantastic. Huge character roster with some of the baddest-ass new character designs every to walk the screen, like sub-boss (and playable unlockable character) Shion, a female Kung Fu practitioner (I think) who fights with spear, hand and feet, and a crazy metal blade thing on a rope like most of the cool villains from old Jackie Chan movies put together, Oswald, a lanky dude in dark glasses and a suit who slings paper cards around like blades, and two characters who will be further refined in KOF XII (their designs are a bit improved upon there, but they still look pretty inspired here): the bare-chested and tattooed Shen Woo, and the sort of Victorian counter-character (I think?) Elizabeth, just to name a few. The unlocked character roster is masssssssive.
Unfortunately there are also a couple rounded chirpy kid characters as was too frequent in these years from SNK (and the Korean Eolith designers?)--see also Neo*Geo Battle Coliseum (entry 1001) (and I think it happened in a couple of the 200x KOF titles, too).
The action really is fast--I wonder if people who complain XII is too fast played this one? because it's nearly the same speed--and so darn smooth. The high-res backgrounds are pretty damn smooth, too; I did call them "bland" before, and it's true that there isn't much going on in them, but they're still quite handsome. Man this game is so good; this may stand for me as the epitome of SNK's SD fighting games (hm maybe next to SamSho II--see entry 1280--but that one I like in a sort of old and crusty way, whereas XI is so slick and shiny).
What's also cool is that the end boss doesn't seem to be nearly as much of a dick as SNK bosses usually were; in fact when I fought him last night as Shion he was a total pushover, but Shion's a bit more powerful than the standard characters, so that view may be a bit skewed. The boss himself is also unlockable and playable, really powerful but an icky sort of half-zombie blue glowy dude.
|Ohh one thing I didn't like was heavy use of a fifth button, "blow off" attack or something--normally you could kind of overlook the Atomiswave fifth buttons, but now multiple characters require it for doing a super, gar.|
|Whoops wait, Shen first showed up in KOF 2003 (see entry 762).|
|I mentioned the game will unlock Challenge Mode characters for you if you start failing challenges enough times in a row (like 25 failures or so before giving up). This can be tricky if like me you want some of the tougher characters to get, like Geese, from challenge 40, but not others, like the horrid Magaki--I would accidentally allow too many failures to go by before giving up and coming back, finally beat Geese, only to have the game also reward me the rest of the characters I was missing, including Magaki--fortunately I had learned to disable auto save, and would reload my previous save and start over. Took me all darn night to unlock Geese w/o Magaki. : P|
Also I can never play arcade mode because I don't want to unlock some of the other bosses. This is because I plan to use random character select in Training mode to play Endless, effectively, auto-swapping teams when I get beat. It's a really fun way to play, can just go for hours and hours, setting the difficulty to whatever you like. One tiny drawback in XI is that if you have random stage selection set, it will throw in some of the 3D stages, I guess added in the PS2's "Arrange" gameplay mode, which I hear also slows things down--the game runs at a fearsome rate in the Arcade setting, with light punches flashing out just two frames after a button press! (2003 was fast also, at 3 frames; older KOFs like 2000 and 98 and 96 were more around 4 or 5 frames for a light punch--from Kyo, anyway.) They were really juiced on that Atomiswave hardware!