Unlike the mystery surrounding previous KOF
competitions, KOF '96 has become a major international event sponsored by a
number of huge corporations. Preliminary
contests have been held in various areas throughout the world, and among the top
nine teams are, naturally, the usual KOF contestants who have been looking
forward to test their abilities in an official competition. This
time, however, there is a team among them who cannot fail to raise eyebrows,
composed of Geese Howard, Wolfgang Krauser, and Mr. Big. The three who once
attempted to conquer the world are now but mere contestants in this tournament.
Is their object, perhaps, to do away with the
Bogard brothers or the disciples of Kyokugen karate? If
that weren't enough to surprise...Iori Yagami appears once again, teamed up with
a pair of mysterious women. How will the
rivalry between Iori and Kyo Kusanagi that has cursed their two families since
ancient time play out this time around? This
is KOF '96, held as an official recognized sporting event, over which dark
clouds have already started to gather...."
One of the biggest
character selection screens in '96!
introduced a couple new faces to the series: Mature & Vice, as well as
hosting the debut of the badass "boss team" consisting of Geese
Howard, Krauser, and
Mr. Big. The newcomers bring the roster to an impressive 27 combatants. A few returning characters were updated visually with re-drawn
sprites and new animations. Following series tradition, many new hand-drawn
also introduced, keeping the graphics engine looking fresh. Worth mentioning, KOF
'96's stages were definitely the best looking stages of the KOF series
Pao Pao Cafe does good
As many players expected, '96 had same core gameplay mechanics as the two previous installments,
but there were also some memorable new features added this time around. The "Dodge"
technique from the previous two games was replaced with the "Emergency
Evasion," which allows fighters to "roll" away or towards the
opponent. (This gameplay element would remain a staple in many future games.) Players could also perform "small jumps" as well as high
jumps, enabling a variety of new ways to mix up / cross up your opponents! These two gameplay elements alone helped to
speed up KOF's gameplay system, keeping it competitive with other 2D
fighters at the time.
Go Team Korea! Err...
you wore the wrong colors Chang. Dumbass Chang. Or maybe he peed himself
Along with some new attacks, commands for several classic special and super moves were
changed for a variety of characters. Along with the classic super moves, characters
can now perform a
more powerful version of their regular super move if the character has low
energy and Maximum level power gauge.
Geo, Neo Geo CD, Sega Saturn, PlayStation, Game Boy, PSN
July 30th, 1996
Oct. 25th, 1996
Aug. 8th, 1997
( Game Boy)
The inclusion of the emergency evasion and
small jumps definitely improved KOF's gameplay overall, speeding things
up a bit (which the series needed)! Even so, KOF's gameplay still felt a bit slow and
stiff to me compared to other 2D fighters of the time, but at the very least, some
progress was clearly made with this installment. The sequel, KOF '97 was
the first title to really put the series on the map. ~TFG