KING OF FIGHTERS DREAM MATCH '99
Review by and screenshots courtesy of
|Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Playmore brings you Episode 6 of the legendary King of Fighters saga on a worthy system- the Sega Dreamcast. In 1994, Neo-Geo's "The King of Fig hters '94" introduced the 3 Vs. 3 concept to the world of arcade fighting games, where it was revolutionary at the time. This game brought the Art of Fighting and Fatal Fury characters together while introducing a new hero team featuring Kyo Kusanagi. Each new year's KOF has added features and characters. KOF'98 was a Dream Match which didn't really take place in the saga, but it reunited the KOF'97 cast with some familiar faces. KOF 2000 is the last KOF to be developed by SNK.
This 7th KOF title brings back K' after his introduction in KOF'99 where the Nests saga began. K' is the main character, and SNK/Playmore does its best to make sure you don't forget this with a great intro depicting K' walking past images of other KOF characters.
When you get to the character select screen, you will select four characters as in KOF'99. The order selection for the matches is different than '99 here- you move a cursor left and right to choose the characters, as in the KOFs that came before '99. The Striker system now lets you choose either the 4th character or an alternate
character ("Another Striker") depending on who you selected. If you have Takuma as your striker, his alternate will be Gai Tendou (who previously appeared in Buriki One, a title on SNK's short lived Hyper Neo-Geo 64). Fio (Metal Slug), Duke (Burning Fight), and Lily (Billy Kane's sister!) are some of the Another Strikers. Striker actions can include attacks like Gai's rushing triple kick, Lily's cheering (raises your Power Gauge considerably), Hinako's Thruster attack - and some strikers such as Yuri will act differently based on your distance from the opponent (she'll attack with 3 super uppercuts if the opponent is close, otherwise she will cheer and jack up your Power Gauge).
A few of the standard teams have been reworked. New challengers include the mid-boss Kula, Shijo Hinako, Ramon, Vanessa, Seth, and Lin. Hinako is a female grappler who uses the Sumo style of fighting (really!). Ramon is a Pro Wrestler from Mexico. Vanessa and Seth are secret agents- Vanessa uses Boxing for her fighting style while Seth uses what is called "The Art of Self-Defense". Lin is a wicked looking guy whose attacks include slashes and spitting poison. Kula uses some
interesting moves involving ice- one of her throws forms a giant ball of ice around the opponent. Her Diamond Press (blowing ice onto the opponent) move can truly counter enemy projectiles if you use it right.
Now you can regain Striker Stocks by Taunting if you have a Power Stock, but here lies the rub: your character will be defenseless until they complete the Chouhatsu. Unless you are feeling merciful and want to give your opponent a free hit, be careful and don't use the Taunt merely for razzing. Throws can still be averted, but you will knock the opponent down instead of just escaping. Held over from KOF'99 are the Armor (no hit stuns or block damage) and Counter (Super cancel, extra damage, unlimited normal Supers) modes.
In motion, KOF 2000 resembles the Neo-Geo cart perfectly. Every frame of animation? It's in there. The backgrounds are pretty darn good, especially the Korea Night stage with its signs in Hangul and spectators in the background. You'll even see reflections in a puddle of water on the ground. In the Egypt stage, sometimes there will be blowing sands in the background- the picture here does not do it justice. The shipyard stage looks amazing as well. Playmore has even added some backgrounds based on older titles (KOF'95, Metal Slug, Samurai Shodown, etc) that can be used in the Versus and Practice modes. While these backgrounds somewhat pale in comparison to the main arcade ones, they're still nice to have for posterity. You should not expect the animation of Garou, but the animation is more than reasonably good- especially on Kula. I'd say this compares favorably to pretty much any CPS II title graphically. My only complaint here? I do miss the Engrish... uh, English language mode. Only Japanese mode is available.
The audio is spot on. The BGM is not as hot as that of KOF'99 but it is still decent- except for Zero's theme which simply kicks tail. It comes in Arranged and Original flavors. What about the sound lag that marred the otherwise perfect port of Garou? Don't worry, it is not here. There are your generic hit and smack noises as well as the
glorious sound of a Zanretsu-Ken connecting. Character voices are the crown jewel of the audio portion. If Ryo successfully lands a Ryuko Ranbu, you also hear "Ora!Ora!Ora!" while he is pummeling the opponent. I miss hearing "K.O.!" when a fighter is knocked out, but the Neo-Geo KOF 2000 is this way also. The announcer is probably one of the better ones of the series, reminiscent of the one from Virtua Fighter 3 & 4.
The CPU AI is decent- it is more challenging than '96, while not as hard as '94 ('94 is neck and neck with '95 for the hardest KoF AI). The "4-MVS" setting puts up a fair fight.
One other neat extra that Playmore has added is the Puzzle Mode. You rotate and swap tiles to recreate pieces of Shinkiro's KOF artwork.
Playmore has done a wonderful job of cramming the 682 Megabit masterpiece into a GD-ROM while adding a couple extras. The Dreamcast's RAM ensures an excellent conversion- we can be thankful that KOF 2000 was not attempted on the Saturn, where even the 4 Meg RAM cart would probably not have sufficed. The deal is sweetened when you consider that you're paying only $60 for this version, rather than the triple digit price of the Neo-Geo Home Cart.
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