The King of Fighters franchise, since its 1994 Neo Geo debut, has garnered a rabid cult following–a trait shared by publisher Atlus which is bringing SNK Playmore’s latest, King of Fighters XIII, to the states this fall. Both companies are hungry for success with this title as many KOF fans were disappointed with King of Fighters XII, which lacked GGPO support and suffered missing moves. Diehards wanted to forget it all together, so SNK Playmore listened to its base and began to create a fighter that would help them do just that. With the possibility of Mark of the Wolves characters, a franchise-spanning, fan-picked soundtrack, more modes, a smoother engine, and resolved net code issues, the time may be upon fight fans to embrace KOF once again.
For starters, KOF XIII will have a decision-based story mode that gives players control over how it unfolds, as well as seeing the story through the eyes of Ash, Heidern, and Adelheid. KOF XIII is returning to its roots, bringing back the multi-bar power gauge from ’97, and the Hidden Desperation Moves from 2002. In addition, KOF XIII will feature a ton of modes to keep fight fans happy: tutorial, arcade, versus, time attack, mission, survival and replay mode. Online modes will also have replay capabilities and customization. Xbox Live multiplayer will include ranked, unranked, and friend matches.
When asked about GGPO support, Atlus disappointed the fans in attendance by stating the game will not use the popular, and effective, 2D fighter netcode. Atlus calmed the crowed by saying that it needed to focus on using an all new improved netcode, instead of GGPO. The company admitted that KOF XII had severe netcode issues, and promised not only to improve it with KOF XIII, but also to fix other problems. [Note: Ignition handled the KOF XII publishing duties.]
In addition to improved net code, Atlus also announced global matches and a single release date for all three main regions (US, Europe, and Japan). Aram Jabbari, Manager of PR and Sales at Atlas, stated that “when it comes to King of Fighters XIII, efforts like EVO, attending tournaments and consumer events are forms of marketing that we take seriously. We know that following the last entry of the series have some serious doubts coming into XIII, so we don’t consider this the ‘usual release’ and ramp up for us. We need to make it known to the fans that we are listening and understand what they’re concerns were for XII, and we’re working very closely with SNK for XIII.”
To encourage sales and entice past fans to return to the fold, KoF XIII will come bundled with a 4-CD compilation soundtrack as a preorder bonus. This will include tracks from all games in the KOF franchise, with the possibility of remixes. Another Atlus representative said, “the fans need to stay tuned, as we will be having voting sessions online for what tracks should go onto the soundtrack, and nothing is yet set in stone.”
Kei Yamamoto, KOF XIII producer at SNK, was present for the panel. When I asked him about Mark of the Wolves characters possibly appearing in XIII, he smiled and said, “I cannot say anything at this time, but it is definitely a possibility.” The crowd clapped enthusiastically.
With over thirty-five fighters and several different modes, Yamamoto and the team at Atlus seem are doing a great job with listening to the fans and making sure they make this next fighter the best they possibly can. King of Fighters XIII hits store shelves on October 25th, and will retail for $49.99.