Over the years, it has been a trend to create unique flavors of soda while utilizing various video games and anime brandings to promote the product. QDOL and Ocean Bomb are two of the biggest manufacturers when it comes to these collaborations, including Pokemon, Dragon Ball Super, One Piece, and most recently Sailor Moon. Seeing QDOL adopt the King of Fighters brand isn’t as farfetched as one would think, considering its popularity in East Asia.
However, the King of Fighters 97 brand is oddly specific, especially when all but one of the characters are staples in other games of the series. Orochi is the only exclusive 97 character and none of the prominent newcomers (Chizuru, Chris, Shermie, and Yashiro) are featured sadly. If QDOL ever did an extension, I could imagine seeing these four as more unique and exotic flavors. Imagine an apple-flavored soda based on Shermie since apples are popular in France.
Regardless, I was able to taste all six sodas from The King Of Fighters 97 series by QDOL, and here is my ranking on each, from my least to most favorites. Even with the lowest on the list, none of the drinks are bad and at worst they are unremarkable so I hope I don’t piss off too many of the Sprite fans with the bottom of the list.
6. Kyo Kusanagi Lime Flavor Soda
Kyo Kusanagi is the protagonist of The King of Fighters series and an important character in The King of Fighters 97’s lore. Unfortunately, while not a bad flavor, it fits the criteria for a protagonist in a fighting game—safe, drinkable, and familiar. There’s nothing that stood out from this flavor compared to other Lime-based sodas like Sprite for example. Definitely not as inspiring as the other flavors on this list, but it’s not a bad flavor, which makes all of them at least worth a try.
5. Athena Asamiya Peach Flavor Soda
While it ranks fairly low on this list, the packaging design and color choice make Athena my favorite of the six QDOL King of Fighters 97 flavors. Unfortunately, the peach doesn’t stand out as much as the rest of the flavors on this list. It certainly has a kick to it and as the temperature warms (We’ve had each flavor straight out of the fridge initially) the peach becomes more profound. I believe there was a missed opportunity with a potential sakura blossom-inspired flavor here, but it has the intensity of a Psycho Sword anti-air.
4. Mai Shiranui Strawberry Flavor Soda
The best strawberry flavor soda I have ever tasted was the Strawberry Ramu Bottle, which is in a resealable aluminum can. This soda, along with the melon and the regular flavor, has an impressive sweetness-to-flavor ratio and I can’t recommend them enough. QDOL’s strawberry has the same issues as the previous two flavors.
It’s rather muted in the actual flavor at first, but with enough sips, you get to experience the strawberries. I’d say it’s a fair pairing for one of the most iconic women in fighting games. Strawberries are red, Mai’s aesthetic is red, and I’d imagine she would have the soft scent of strawberries surrounding her. Suddenly I feel a violent presence and Andy’s eyes glaring at me.
3, Iori Yagami Lychee Flavor Soda
Bottoming out the upper end of The King Of Fighters 97 set is Iori Yagami and his lychee flavor, which makes sense. One look at the purple aesthetic and its packaging however and the lychee flavor would take the unsuspecting by surprise. If you were like me and expected grapes, then it’s quickly discovered that lychee is the furthest away from a grape.
However, with that surprise out of the way, what is left is a surprisingly fruity experience. I always considered anything lychee to be similar to a jelly-type flavor. If you’ve had a Hi-Chew or any jelly gummy, this is what this soda would taste like in liquid form. It’s a soft flavor like any other flavor on this list, but I’m fond of lychee so this gets placed higher on the list.
2. Orochi Tangerine Flavor Soda
Tangerine… Lemon… Orochi is most certainly the “Diesel” of the King of Fighters 97 cast, but if the Bullet Train movie references are going over your head, this surprising taste most certainly won’t. Of all the flavors here, this is the best fruit-flavored soda list. The tangerine flavor comes off mellow but then hits with sweetness and tartiness that leaves with a citrus aftertaste. It’s not like drinking a Fanta, but I’m glad that it isn’t. The tangerine flavor is never overwhelming but it makes its flavor profile known which is more than a lot of the flavors on this list. However, there is one flavor that is so unique it dares to be different from the rest. It’s the only non-fruit flavored soda on this list and it’s honestly a flavor I still can’t put a grasp on. Without further delay.
1. Terry Bogard Sea Salt Flavor Soda
Coming in at number one we have sea salt flavored soda, which I was talking to a friend about before I even tried it. When one thinks of “sea salt flavor,” I tend to drift into Kingdom Hearts and how it was a treat that Roxas and Xion enjoyed. It quickly became a staple for all adolescents and teens in 2006 to envision what exactly would a “sea salt flavor” taste like. My thoughts went to “saltwater taffy,” but my initial thought was a sweet, almost cream cheese-like, flavor. The aftertaste reminded me of vanilla custard as well, which I confirmed over several sips.
Before I knew it, the can was finished but I never had a chance to pinpoint the prominent taste of “sea salt flavor.” Whatever it was, it was delicious enough for me to finish the can while my taste buds were still in awe. Almost as much in awe as the average player will be in, seeing their life bar melt by a single Buster Wolf counter-hit punishment. Not something I'd think of when I consider Terry Bogard, however.
Once again I’d like to thank my friend for letting me know about the existence of these rather unique drinks and giving me the opportunity to feature them here. If you’re lucky to live in or near an Asian neighborhood, the local Asian mart may surprise you by having this on display. Otherwise, these can be found at various online marts, such as this one. These are definitely worth a try as both a collector and connoisseur of weird video game-themed food products, which are becoming quite popular these days.