The King of Fighters XIV, and SNK’s New Future

Since today is Monday, it’s time for another post about SNK’s The King of Fighters XIV. While I’m sticking with the bi-weekly tradition established over the last few months, it would have been worth posting about today regardless, thanks to the plethora of info provided over the last week. There’s a good reason why the company’s weekly update came four days later than usual.

For one, SNK released a lengthy trailer which showcased the game’s cast, gameplay modes, and features, the first such promotional video aimed toward those who haven’t watched every character video as they released. It was also a good preview for anyone who initially wrote the game off thanks to its underwhelming visuals, which have been significantly improved since its unveil at Tokyo Game Show last year. While it’s still not pushing any technological boundaries, it looks perfectly serviceable for a low-to-mid-budget 2D game with a 50-character roster. Along with the trailer came the launch of the official website, for anyone who wanted these details, and a little more, in written form.

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Of course, the most immediately interesting aspect of the website is how it shows the game’s cast. All of them, outside of the bosses. It seems SNK fully realizes the cat’s out of the bag, thanks to the roster leaks. The site will be gradually updating with descriptions for every character between now and its release, including info everyone wants to know, like character blood types, their favorite foods, and their “likes” and “dislikes.” Only Team Japan, Team Yagami, and Team Fatal Fury have been detailed, and each team includes characters that have yet to be fully revealed, like Goro Daimon, Mature, and Joe Higashi (his appearance in that Gesse vs. Ryo trailer doesn’t count…right?). Others will be posted in due time.

But the presence of the full character roster on the website doesn’t mean SNK will be stopping with the individual character trailers. Alongside the above one, there was also a more traditional preview which primarily focused on two characters new to the KoF universe. The first was Samurai Shodown’s own Nakoruru, who’s part of the Another World team. She looks a little out of place among KoF’s traditionally more grounded cast, but remains mostly true to her SS self. I say “mostly” because they’ll have to retool certain aspects of her move set so she fits in with KoF’s gameplay style, but she’ll nonetheless remain familiar for anyone who’s played her in the SS games, Neo Geo Battle Coliseum, or the Capcom vs. SNK games.

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The second character from the trailer is Shun’ei, the leader of Team China. Interestingly, he’ll be the new main character of this current KoF saga, following in the footsteps of Kyo and K’ — though the former there will remain the face of the franchise. Ash Crimson would have been among them, if he didn’t turn out to be super evil (whoops, spoilers). His role will be further expounded upon in the game’s Story Mode, whose overall presentation will be a significant step up compared to previous installments.

It wouldn’t be a modern video game if there wasn’t DLC, though what’s been announced for KoFXIV thus far is rather minor. Anyone who preorders will receive Kyo’s original outfit from the 90s KoF installments as a bonus. Alternate outfits are one of the luxuries they can now afford, thanks to the switch from sprites to character models. This was perhaps one of the biggest reasons for that switch, considering how much money can potentially be made through selling alternate outfits.

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With the above news, the release date was confirmed for August 23rd and 25th for America and Japan, respectively. As mentioned in the last post, Atlus USA is handling publishing duties for our version. In addition to the aforementioned outfit, those who purchase first-print copies will also receive the game in a spiffy-looking Steelbook package. It won’t be releasing alongside any fighting game competition, and given the level of promotion Atlus USA typically provides for games they publish, it should sell amicably. My apologies for anyone in Europe interested in the game, but hopefully someone like Rising Star Games picks up the title soon.

While you wait for the game to arrive and more characters to be unveiled, take a look at more gameplay footage featuring Japanese players. Though you’ll see the same characters being used in that video over and over again, SNK made sure to recapture the gameplay flow of previous KoF games in its new presentation format, so fans and those looking forward to a good fighting game have little to worry about. Let’s just hope SNK also heard the complaints about their previous titles having bad netplay, and that they’ve made sure this game won’t have any problems.

P.S. You might have noticed that I’ve used “SNK” and not “SNK Playmore” throughout this post. That’s because SNK Playmore changed their name back simply SNK, and their motto has again become “The Future is Now.” The change lets everyone know they meant business when they said they wanted to return to developing fighting games full-time. Though their development future is bright, I hope they attract (and re-attract) a worthwhile fanbase.

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