The King of Fighters: The Orochi Saga Review
The King of Fighters franchise has been SNK's ultimate mash-up of fighters that includes characters from a variety of SNK's fighting games, including Art of Fighting, Fatal Fury, Psycho Soldier, and Ikari Warriors. The two latter games you may not have heard of, which is largely because they weren't as popular as SNK's other titles, but they still did contribute a number of characters to the KOF franchise throughout the years. Additionally, SNK penned new and original characters for the new franchise, as well. And While King of Fighters never took off as well as Street Fighter did, it was still popular enough in the arcades to warrant a horde of sequels...
...many of which you can find right in the Orochi Saga compilations. Featuring King of Fighters '94 through 98, SNK has once again given gamers a fantastic value with five great fighting games on one disc for only $30. For King of Fighters '95, SNK was the first to introduce tag-team fighting, as the game made use of three-on-three fighting, albeit not the same way Capcom did their tag-team fighting. In KOF a new fighter comes in when one has been defeated, where as in the Capcom games you can tag a new fighter at any time.
Regardless, King of Fighters makes use of some very tight game mechanics and is one of the most balanced fighters out there. For fans of the 2D fighting genre, KOF offers plenty of variety with tons of different fighters, a plethora of moves, and replayability that rivals Street Fighter games. And it doesn't hurt that with five consecutive games, you also get to see each fighter's different endings and see how the stories have progressed.
If you aren't at all familiar with King of Fighters, as in you have never played it, and you're looking for an old-school fighter to sink your teeth into, then this is your ideal purchase. The games play very much like your typical old-school fighters, in that they're similar to Street Fighter. If you've played Street Fighter to death, then you won't have a problem getting the hang of KOF, as executing moves and such should be a walk in the park for an SF vet. I will say this, though, fighters in KOF are more diverse than those in Street Fighter, so their fighting styles and moves vary dramatically, which will require more time to adapt to them. But it helps make KOF a deep experience and I think fans of the genre owe it to themselves to check it out, especially at this budget price.
Vsually, the games have gone untouched, which may phase those of you playing on your big screen HDTVs. Unless old-school visuals don't bother you that much, you'll find a lot to like about the visuals KOF. The series has always been known to have superior visuals to that of Street Fighter games, because most of SNK's titles ran on more advanced arcade hardware that that of Capcom's, which made porting SNK games to consoles beyond the Neo-Geo very difficult. The backgrounds in all of the King of Fighters games are brimming with multiple levels of detail, and the animation of the fighters is still nice even today. Even the detail of the fighters is still nice to appreciate, as their designs aren't as monotone and simplistic as that of other fighters from the era.
The audio remains untouched and preserved. I, personally, still love old-school game audio and so I love listening the KOF's soundtrack. There's something about the simplicity in the audio of older games that makes them more memorable than today's modern stuff. In any case, purists will be happy to know nothing's been touched, and there's also a jukebox that allows you to listen to each of the tracks individually.
All in all, for a mere $30, whether on your PSP or PS2, The King of Fighters Collection: The Orochi Saga is a fantastic deal for a series of fantastic games. If you're a fan of old-school fighters, are looking to broaden your tastes and have never played a KOF game before, this is your ideal chance to snag your copy and enjoy a fine franchise that was largely overlooked thanks to the massive shadow cast by Street Fighter.
1/30/2009 Arnold Katayev