The King of Fighters 2002

STORY:  In terms of plot, KOF 2002 does not have a story and was developed as a "dream match" with characters from all previous installments of King of Fighters (similar to KOF '98).

KOF 2002's intro was pretty solid.

REVIEWKing of Fighters 2002 discards the 4-on-4 "Striker Match" format used in the previous three installments and returns its 3-on-3 roots. The theme of this year's team format are teams that represent "each year of the KOF series," and is considered a "Dream Match" (like The King of Fighters '98)... and once again, there's no official storyline.


39 selectable characters + 5 more on PS2!


This time around, there are actually no new characters introduced. However, classic and fan-favorites make their epic return, including: Yashiro, Shermie, Vice, and Yamazaki. They aren't just old rehashed sprites either, and have a slew of new animations & moves. The newcomers introduced King of Fighters 2001 (Angel & K9999) also make their return. Besides tweaked character priorities and movelists, the main difference found in KOF 2002's gameplay lies in its Power Gauge system.

KOF 2002 Team Selection Screen. Old school!


The amount of Power Gauges the player can stock up is increased by one with each member of the team, with the first member of the team being able to stock up to 3 Power Gauges, while the third member can stock up to five. A single Power Gauge stock can be used to perform a Counterattack and Evasion technique while guarding an opponent's attack, use a Super Special Move, or initiate the MAX Activation state, in which the player's offensive and defensive strength is increased for a short period and can cancel any attack into another. A super special move can also be unleashed without using a power stock while a character is in the MAX Activation state. Max Super Special Moves (requiring 1 stock) and Max 2 moves (requiring 2 stocks) can also be unleashed during Max Activation.




As always, the new installment contains brand new backgrounds and some "fan service" cameos as well. KOF 2002 still uses the same old engine... so one might say it's visually lacking when compared to other fighting games of the era. There's still a certain charm to the classic 2D sprites, and while some have been updated significantly, others look ancient (that's bad).  A remake of KOF2002 entitled King of Fighters 2002: Unlimited Match was released in 2009, adding additional playable characters, moves, and backgrounds.

Whoever did that to the poor sheep is not cool.



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Page Updated: August 20th, 2022
Developer(s): Breezzasoft
Publisher(s): Playmore / Eolith
Artwork by: Nona, Hiroaki, Falcoon
Platform(s): Neo Geo, Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, Xbox, XBLA
Release Date(s): Oct. 10th, 2002       Arcade
Dec. 18th, 2002       NeoGeo
June 19th, 2003         Dreamcast
Mar. 25th, 2004         PS2
Mar. 24th, 2005         Xbox
Characters Kyo, Benimaru, Daimon, Terry, Andy, Joe, Leona, Ralf, Clark, Kim, Chang, Choi, Ryo, Robert, Takuma, Athena, Kensou, Chin, Mai, Yuri, May Lee, Iori, Mature, Vice, Yamazaki, Mary, Billy, Yashiro, Shermie, Chris, K', Maxima, Whip, Vanessa, Seth, Ramon, Kula, K9999, Angel, Rugal, Omega Rugal, Orochi Chris, Orochi Shermie, Orochi Yashiro, King (PS2), Shingo (PS2), Orochi Iori (PS2), Geese (PS2), Goenitz (PS2)

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Featured Video:

Related Games: The King of Fighters 2002: Unlimited Match, KOF '94, KOF '94: Re-bout, KOF '95, KOF '96, KOF '97, KOF '98, KOF '98 Ultimate Match, KOF '99, KOF 2000, KOF 2001, KOF 2003, KOF XI, KOF XII, KOF XIII, KOF XIV, KOF XV, KOF: Maximum Impact, KOF: Maximum Impact MANIAX, KOF: Maximum Impact 2, KOF: Maximum Impact Regulation A, KOF: Neowave, KOF EX Neo Blood, KOF EX2 Howling Blood, KOF R1, KOF R2, KOF Collection: Orochi Saga , Garou: Mark of the Wolves, Tekken 4

Gameplay Engine

 7.5 / 10

Story / Theme

 7.5 / 10

Overall Graphics

 7.5 / 10


 7.0 / 10

Music / Sound Effects

 7.5 / 10


 7.0 / 10

Art Direction

 9.0 / 10


 8.0 / 10

Options / Extras

 6.0 / 10

Intro / Presentation

 7.0 / 10

Replayability / Fun

 7.5 / 10

"Ouch" Factor

 7.5 / 10


 9.0 / 10


 7.9 / 10

 Review based on Arcade version     


Final Words:

I actually enjoyed vanilla KOF 2002... the character selection was pretty solid, and the stages had lots of cameos with cool "time of day" changes between rounds. Gameplay-wise, KOF2002 was a pretty honest fighting game. However, I still preferred many other 2D fighting games over 2002... in 2002. 

The 8-year old graphics engine & traditional gameplay was definitely showing its age, easily outshined by other modern 2D fighters of the time period (and years prior). At least diehard SNK KOF fans had another interestingly new installment of KOF to play. KOF2002 was indeed one of the most playable and arguably balanced installments in a while. I remember a ton of people were playing KOF2002 in Hong Kong arcades when I visited in 2010... In 2010! 

Even though some of KOF2002's character animations show slight improvements over previous versions, in the eyes of many, the KOF series definitely needed "something else" to remain visually competitive in the fighting genre (outside of the hardcore fans). Furthermore, maybe KOF as a series needs something more than just a visual upgrade. It seems SNK thought so as well, as they introduced a fresh 3-on-3 tag team gameplay system in the next installment, The King of Fighters 2003.
~TFG Webmaster | @Fighters_Gen  

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