by wagesofsyn


Japanese Title: The King of Fighters '96
Year: 1997
System: Playstation
Other Versions? Neo Geo: Home cart, CD, & MVS; Saturn; Gameboy


A year before, SNK released King of Fighters '95, and introduced on the Playstation what is considered to be one of the most original and innovative titles on the system or anywhere. They took fighters from Art of Fighting, Fatal Fury, and even old side-scrollers like Ikari Warriors and Athena. Anticipation was high for the next installment of the now infamous Orochi legend, but sadly, this was not the game we played in the arcades. 



King of Fighters '96 looks nice, though the sprites look a tad rough around the edges. As usual in the KOF series, Iori and Kyo look the best, as SNK obviously spends more time on them than the rest of the cast (a personal issue I've always had with the KOF series... Man, I wish Iori would just finish off the Kusanagis in 2001). The special attacks look as impressive as they ever will, and the character designs are right on the money. 



Sluggish. That's all I can say. The controls respond not so slow as to create a predictable delay, but not lightning quick as the other KOF games, Real Bout Special, or the Street Fighter Alpha series. The dynamics of the fighting itself are there in full force, and will challenge both new players as well as KOF veterans. The technical nature of the KOF series brings a flavor not found in other fighters (*cough*Guilty Gear*cough*) that rely on reflex button mashing to win. Though there are faults, 96 will still deliver a solid blow to the world of 2D fighters (and there's even an option to put all text in English! I can read the story again!) 



Some impressive energy slashes are really given life with the traditional, though a bit washed out, sound effects. Once again, as in every fighting game, the punches and kicks are there, as well as the resulting grunts, moans, and taunts. The music is appropriate, and fit the characters personalities well. 


Final Thoughts

I loved KOF '95. It was one of my first SNK games, and I still play it when my friends come over. KOF '96 was fun, especially with the inclusion of Geese Howard, but could've been better. The next year though, SNK began to learn from their mistakes... still, it's worth the buy, if just for the fact that Geese Howard is there to kick the living crap out of Kyo... 


- John Gillerlain

Overall: 7.6 / 10


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