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The King of Fighters XIV

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The King of Fighters XIV
KOF-XIV
Key artwork, showing Iori, Shun'ei, Nakoruru, Mai, and Kyo
Developer(s)SNK
Publisher(s)SNK, Atlus, Deep Silver
Release datePlayStation 4
JP August 25, 2016
NA August 23, 2016
EU August 26, 2016
GenreFighting game
Game modesSingle-player, multiplayer
Platform(s)PlayStation 4

The King of Fighters XIV is the latest installment of The King of Fighters series. It was first announced during the SCEJA Press Conference 2015. This game will begin another canonical saga for the series. Garou: Mark of the Wolves battle designer, Yasuyuki Oda, will be the director.

Oda said in an interview with 4Gamer that the main goal for this title is to make it "the easiest to play" of the series. According to him, the two major reasons for making the transition to 3D is to adapt to high-end machines and give 3D experience to SNK so they can compete in the console market again. He thinks it's difficult to properly convey the KOF cast's charm in 3D but expects the models to continue improving from its initial revealing. Oda hopes to cater to fans of KOF '98, KOF 2002 and KOF XIII with this game's mechanics. He aspires to improve the online matchmaking for this entry.

Story

KOF has become a major business, generating huge profits and numerous spin-off tournaments worldwide. However, this led to a lowering of the overall quality, and voices began to rise across the globe demanding the formation of one unique, worldwide KOF competition.

One day, a billionaire claiming to be the “first champion” bought out all of the rights for the KOF Tournament. His name: Antonov. The announcement of a new KOF Tournament by the self-proclaimed champion created unprecedented enthusiasm around the world. From there, this excitement reached many of the classic participants of the legendary tournament directly in the form of an official invitation…

Gameplay

Unlike previous main entries, which employed hand-drawn sprite animation,The King of Fighters XIV uses 3D models more akin to the KOF: Maximum Impact series. However the fighting area remains on a strictly two-dimensional plane and keeps the same basic mechanics as its predecessors.

  • A new Max mode systems are:
    • Allows players to access the EX special moves; activating this state requires one bar of the power gauge.
    • Able to use EX super move command input with just one attack button, instead of two attack butons.
  • Using three bars of the power gauge can allow players to unleash Climax supers.
  • Super cancels is now based on KOF2003 and KOFXI's Dream Cancel, except it is now available to all members and has a new systems, such cancelling a normal super to an EX or Climax super, or EX super to Climax super.
  • Repeatedly hit the light punch button to perform an automatic combo attack called Rush mode; this will do lower damage compared to normal combo attacks. However, there some conditions involving Level gauge:
    • If the Level gauge is 0, the fourth Rush mode combo goes to a certain special move.
    • If one Level gauge is filled, the fourth Rush mode combo goes to a certain Super Art.
    • While entering Max Mode, the fourth Rush mode combo goes to an EX version of a certain special/super moves.
  • The CD thrust system now causes opponents to hit the wall and remain vulnerable to follow-up attacks.

Online multiplayer mode will feature a Party Battle mode which will allow three players to form a single team together to challenge another three player team. Players will be allowed to choose the same character if they wish while forming teams. The lobby is designed to support up to twelve players so spectators can join to watch the match up with an integrated voice and text chat. A "Crowd SE" option is additionally available for spectators will allow them to root, applaud, and boo their favored competing teams.

Players will be allowed to set their online profiles to be private. An online training mode is available as well.

Development

SNK decided to go 3D after considering the current market and what things will be like 5-10 years into the future. Their staff all agreed that things would be best if they challenged 3D right now and started building up experience, knowledge and libraries in their company.[1]

  • The game engine was internally developed by SNK. They were considering Unreal Engine earlier in development but decided not to go with it because the version at the time didn't match well with SNK's situations including their knowledge, budget, and potential risks.
  • They didn't go with cell-shaded graphics either because Oda and Kuroki's vision of the King of Fighters series is that of '94. Neo_G agrees that Neo Geo games back then had a look that tried to imitate reality through pixels. According to Oda, the series always had tall "realistic" characters up until XIII, which was more anime-style. But because XIII's been played for 6 years, there were people saying that the next entry would be better if it looked anime. 
  • XIV originally had a more realistic look in its earlier stages but that ended up making things weird for characters like Kula or Athena that have blue or pink/purple hair. So they tweaked things and ended up with the current graphics.
  • Hitboxes are added manually in 2D.
  • Ogura has no remorse in leaving behind pixel art since it was a method to bring out the best in low-resolution graphics. Now that times have changed, even if doing 2D he'd rather take a different approach than pixel art.
  • Everything including the various game modes and net code was made from scratch.
  • None of the assets from KOFXIII were usable for this project. Oda: "If they were usable we'd sure would've loved it"
  • Making the game run in full 60fps proved to be difficult and as a result, the flashier looking graphics and effects got cut out. There was the option of going variable in framerate, but the team decided to go consistant.
    • One of the reasons being that the game would work well in online mode. Oda explains that for each frame that gets skipped, it places a lot of bottleneck over the network communication. And especially with KOFXIV which is designed to allow up to 12 players to join and text chat and whatnot, that simply wasn't acceptable.
  • Every time the developers make an update, they need to check it for 50 characters. The checking process is semi-automated but still a lot of work since they need to make sure of stuff manually as well.
  • They only had 3-4 designers but Oda decided to have 50 characters in the game. Kuroki was like "That's so wrong!"
  • Doing the facial expressions for all the characters was going to be a pain. So out of kindness to his staff, Oda decided to have three characters without facial expressions, like hiding them with a mask and whatnot.
  • Oda thinks that "KOF" is different for everyone depending on which release the player is into. For example XIII players think XIII is KOF, while 98 players and 02 players think that their games are KOF. So he tried to make a game that takes the best parts of all three games so that all the players would say "this is KOF!" when they touched XIV, albeit also adding elements as a new game. 

SNK has a lot of development teams especially in the mobile/smartphone side of things, but they only have two studios. One of them is making the KOF series, and they barely had enough staff to make KOFXIV. They might be able to do more things as the years go by and the development environment for 3D graphics gets better.[2]

Characters

XIV also marks a huge change for the series in that the large majority of the returning cast now sport new voice actors, including those who have been voiced by the same actors since their debut or for several years. The exceptions include Benimaru, Athena, King, Kula, Maxima, Geese, Chang, Choi, and King of Dinosaurs. Characters with recent changes, such as Kim, Nakoruru, Mai, and Ralf, retain their new voices.

Names in bold denote new fighters.

Japan Team

Fatal Fury Team

Art of Fighting Team

Psycho Soldier Team

Ikari Team

Women Fighters Team

China Team

Kim Team

Yagami Team

K' Team

South Town Team

Villains Team

Mexico Team

Official Invitation Team

Another World Team

South America Team

Sub-Boss

Final Boss

Special Edit Teams

Tung's Disciples Team

  • Terry Bogard
  • Geese Howard
  • Shun'ei

NESTS Girls Team

  • Kula Diamond
  • Angel
  • Sylvie Paula Paula

"Lucky Sevens" Team

  • Alice
  • Mui Mui
  • Love Heart

Ninja Team

  • Andy Bogard
  • Mai Shiranui
  • Bandeiras Hattori

Masters Team

  • Chin Gentsai
  • Tung Fu Rue
  • Gang-il

Dragon Team

  • Ryo Sakazaki
  • Mui Mui
  • Sie Kensou

Tiger Team

  • Ramon
  • Robert Garcia
  • Joe Higashi

The Mysterious Newcomers

  • Luong
  • Hein
  • Kukri

Birds(?) Team

  • Nakoruru
  • Zarina
  • King of Dinosaurs

Beautiful Longhair Team

  • Athena Asamiya
  • Kula Diamond
  • Nakoruru

Stages

  • Neo Esaka - Set on a raised platform overlooking the Esaka Station area of Osaka, Japan. Numerous sponsorship boards line the arena along with low fences to keep the fight contained to the platform. In the background, a billboard with portraits of the active fighters can be seen. Associated with the Japan Team. BGM: Yappari Esaka.
  • Maple Garden - A patio-like area with a small Japanese temple on the right side, a small waterfall at the left side and two wooden braziers in the centre. There is a view over a calm bay in the background, and the stage takes place at night, with the sky filled with black clouds and a small full moon in the distant background. Associated with the Art of Fighting Team. BGM: Tiger & Dragon.
  • Navajoland - Similar to the Fatal Fury team and Art of Fighting team shared stage in The King of Fighters '96. Takes place amidst the gas station pumps of a truck stop diner in the middle of the desert (the diner visible on the right side of the stage). Spectators are casually gathered around to witness the battle and semi-trucks can be seen parked on the left side of the stage. Associated with the Fatal Fury Team. BGM: Departure from South Town.
  • Heidern Fleet - A large aircraft carrier with bunting depicting national flags strung in the air. Jet fighters are positioned in the foreground, whilst the carrier's control tower is in the background. Associated with the Ikari Team. BGM: Survivors Under the Sky.
  • Industrial Area - Industrial rooftop covered with pipes with a large refinery in the background. The stage takes place at night, with dark clouds and a crescent moon visible in the sky. Associated with the Yagami Team. BGM: Saxophone Under the Moon.
  • Derelict Church - An abandoned church where one wall has crumbled away. The pews can be seen up the center while statues and stained glass windows adorn the side opposite the crumbled wall. Associated with the K' Team. BGM: KD-SR.
  • Geese Tower - Geese Howard's inner sanctum at the top of his skyscraper, overlooking the city of Southtown. An elaborate centerpiece of Buddhist statues adorns the middle of the room and thick, red, Asian-inspired columns flank it to the left and right. A pair of vases and a large ceremonial drum are placed in the area in front of the centerpiece. The floor is composed of finely polished wood and rainfall can be seen outside. An American flag banner is hanging from the awning, alluding to Geese's affinity for blending American and Asian culture. Associated with the South Town Team. BGM: Soy Sauce for Koyadofu.
  • Old Castle - The gardens of a large castle, with the castle itself taking up most of the background. The stage takes place at sunset, and there are two small fountains, one on each edges of the stage, with the fountain on the left being in the foreground and the fountain on the right being further away. Associated with the Women Fighters Team. BGM: Splendid Soldier.
  • Hotel Marine Paradise - A submerged restaurant with large pillars. The battle takes place in a roped-off area in the center of the restaurant. In the background people can be seen sitting and observing the aquatic life swim by the large glass panes that separate them from the water outside. Marine life such as whales and sharks can be seen passing outside. Associated with the Kim Team. BGM: Belief.
  • The Bund - A waterfront street in Shanghai. This stage takes place at night with a full moon, and the city's downtown district is visible across the river in the background. The river features a multi-decked boat with a large dragon-shaped prow. Associated with the Psycho Soldier Team. BGM: Tachi bou ke.
  • Underground Prison - A dungeon-like area with ruined, crumbling stone walls strewn about and prisoners observing the fight. There are two suspended cages, an empty cage on the left edge of the screen and another cage with a prisoner inside near the centre. Associated with the Villains Team. BGM: WA.
  • Dream World - Some kind of amusement park. The fighting area is surrounded by a castle like stone wall, with numerous red and gold banners hanging from the wall; the banner in the top-center reads 'THE KING OF FIGHTERS'. There are several costumed figures, including two stilt-walkers, standing in the foreground watching the fight, with the central figure wearing a large cartoonish bodysuit of a patchwork animal in a witch's hat holding a staff. There are three dioramas of fairground rides just behind the costumed figures; the one on the left is of a 'teacup' ride, the one on the right is of a rollercoaster, and the one in the center is of a carousel. The carousel has a large sign on the bottom reading 'THE KING OF FIGHTERS SPECIAL PARADE'. Associated with the Another World Team. BGM: Magical Sky.
  • Guanajuato Dynamite Ring - A large wrestling ring situated in the town square of Guanajuato, Mexico. The ring ropes are colored red, white, and blue and the turnbuckles have print on them with phrases such as "KOF IN MEXICO" and "LUCHA LIBRE". Spectators are seen at the ground level watching the brawl. Día de los Muertos ("Day of the Dead") decorations adorn the town square and a King of Dinosaurs banner is draped over one of the buildings. Associated with the Mexico Team. BGM: Sky Blue.
  • The Great Wall of China - A wide stone platform on the Great Wall, with the wall itself in the background curving across to the right. The platform has a pagoda-like gold sculpture on the right side, whilst the left side has an archway with some sort of decorative tassel hanging in the centre. Associated with the China Team. BGM: Inheritance.
  • Iguazu Falls - Located on the Iguazu Falls, Brazil, near the Triple Frontier, the stage is set on a balcony in the midst of several rainforest plants such as palm trees. In the distant background a large waterfall can be seen cascading down the sheer cliffs. The balcony is covered in glowing blue hexagonal tiles and there are several domed structures erected on the cliffside. The closest dome has a banner with yellow text that reads "KING OF FIGHTERS in Latin America". Associated with the South America Team. BGM: COCO.
  • Masquerade - A high-class opera house. The battle takes place on the stage and the wealthy elite mill around at ground level and in the upper balconies, all wearing face masks to keep with the masquerade theme. Banners with sponsorship logos can be seen surrounding the stage and pegasus statues are situated at opposite ends of the stage. Associated with the Official Invitation Team. BGM: Venator Ballare.
  • Antonov Super Arena - Similar to the arena where the concluding battles of The King of Fighters '96 take place. An outdoor stage area surrounded by packed grandstands and cameras both on the ground and raised above the fight via boom arms. In the background a platform can be seen, presumably where the winning team will receive their commendation. Associated with Antonov. BGM: I'm The King of Fighters ~Type 2~.
  • Destroyed Arena - A destroyed variant of Antonov Super Arena where the final boss battle takes place. Associated with Verse. BGM: Independence from an Aggregate.
  • Training Stage - A sparse arena used for training. The back wall is covered in white tiles whilst the floor is covered in grey tiles. There are several thick black lines painted across the tiles, including vertically across the centre, the left edge and the right edge, as well as horizontally across the floor; the combatants stand upon this horizontal line whilst fighting. The vertical line across the centre features a small gold shield positioned halfway up the wall, with the letters 'KOF' engraved across it. This stage has no character associations. BGM: Varies per opponent.

External Links

Reference

  1. 4Gamer Interview 2016
  2. Famitsu Interview

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