Over two years later and I can finally close the lid on this King of Fighters retrospection as it is currently March 7th, 2023, and a lot has been released since I discussed The King of Fighters 14. When I wrote about it back in 2021, it was meant to be the “finale” leading up to King of Fighters 15. I’ve even did a first impression of the game back when it was first released last year As we move into the first year anniversary of 15, a lot has happened with the game’s progression in terms of tier lists, popular teams, and the overall mentality of The King of Fighters once given the opportunity to thrive.
Before I begin my current thoughts on The King of Fighters, we must dial back the clock ever so slightly to 2018. SNK was in-between titles, with 14 releasing in 2016 and 15 releasing in 2022, meaning there was a six-year gap between both numbered titles. SNK was no stranger to spin-off titles and 2018 marked the midway point to releasing an obscure yet fun title that wouldn’t stray away from SNK’s development cycle. It would indirectly affect who would return to 15 and who would return to SNK in general. Thus, in 2018, SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy was released on the PlayStation 4 and the Nintendo Switch, and later on PC.
SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy, The Fourth Dream Match?
Depending on who you asked and what your definition of a “Dream Match” was, for all intents and purposes, SNK Heroines; Tag Team Frenzy was the latest “Dream Match” in The King of Fighters. Compared to 98 and 2002, it certainly fit the criteria as it brought back almost every woman fighter from King of Fighters 14 along with some special guests. A woman version of Terry Bogard was introduced as a newcomer for SNK Heroines alongside returning fighter “Miss X.” Miss X was a bonus character in the original SNK Gals’ Fighters, released all the way back in 2000 on the Neo Geo Pocket Color. She was also based on Iori Yagami, yet wearing a delinquent school uniform and a mask covering her face.
Perhaps the most interesting and one of the most highly requested characters would make her unexpected return. Shermie from The King of Fighters 97 as well as the infamous C.Y.S team would return for the first time in over a decade since The King of Fighters 2002. What made SNK Heroines different from most “dream matches” is that it had an actual plot. It was a nonsensical plot, as Kukri, one of the characters from The King of Fighters 14, held all of the women fighters from the previous tournament captive.
In order to escape Kukri’s castle, the girls must fight each other in a tournament and ultimately defeat him. While all of the girls are confused about their predicament, Shermie seems to be the only one who knows more than she lets on. Being dead for almost twenty years in the King of Fighters meta will do that to you, but it’s not immediately stated how she became aware of her situation.
In the previous King of Fighters, the awakening of Verse caused a “wibbly-wobbly-timey-whimey” mess, reviving the souls of deceased fighters. This would lead to King of Fighters 15, but it seems Shermie was the first affected and she was placed in Kukri’s…playhouse?
Trying to make sense of the plot aside, SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy is the most unique SNK title in terms of gameplay. It bears a lot of similarities with Super Gem Fighter Mini Mix in that it takes the King of Fighters gameplay at its core and completely simplifies it to an arcade experience. The colors are loud and vibrant, players can use items, cartoon effects are abundant, and the way to win matches are entirely different from other fighting games.
The fight doesn’t end once a player’s health bar reaches zero, but rather a player must defeat the opponent using a “Dream Finish.” Dream Finishes are like HDM moves in other games, except if it’s used when an opponent’s health is under a “KO Chance,” the player wins. This means matches can be over as quickly as the round starts as “Touch Of Death” combos and setups are abundant. Remember, it’s not about how much damage a player does, but if that one specific “hyper combo” would be enough to defeat an opponent.
Perhaps it was because of the overall wackiness and seemingly random gameplay that caused a lot of fans to avoid SNK Heroines Tag Team Frenzy. Those who wish to play their beloved characters in an interesting manner would enjoy this title as it regularly sees sales. There may not be a designated community but as with all fighting games, there is a dedicated one if players know where to look be it on Twitter or Discord.
The King Of Fighters 15, One Year Later
SNK has been on a roll since I last spoke about The King of Fighters 15 during the EVO 2022 Finals. There was an underlying issue with characters and their effectiveness in their roles, as certain characters excelled in playing their part better than others. Kula Diamond, B. Jenet, and Khronen were all dominant characters that easily saw them play any role when the time came for it.
Kula was an amazing point, Khronen with a full stick of butter as a final character was dangerous, and Jenet could fit any role, leaving her a great mid. SNK would release several patches but their intent wasn’t to maim the top tiers, but rather boost the lagging characters to make them as viable as the best. Unfortunately, the same still can’t be said about characters with weapons as the Samurai Shodown trailer that followed led people with hope.
Maybe, after paying for the crimes of Billy Kane, could the KOF community relish in Haohmaru’s explosive damage as a swordsman? Nope, same issue with Billy. Disjointed hitboxes on their weapons, which may have been for balance issues, were absurd because they carried weapons. Of course, they should have some leniency with their attacks.
A new season of KOF 15 began earlier this year with the release of single-entry characters, the first being Shingo Yabuki and the second being Kim Kaphwan, both being fan-favorite characters. This would be Shingo’s first numbered appearance since The King of Fighters 11 when he joined Kyo and Iori. Kim Kaphwan’s inclusion was interesting as it was the first time since his debut in King of Fighters 94 that Kim wouldn’t be a part of the tournament. Much less, return post-launch as a single-entry character. If the initial response is anything to go by, Kim’s disappearance was felt and it seems he’s back to being another fan favorite.
The year 2023 is no doubt going to be an amazing year for fighting games, with Street Fighter 6 being one of the first new titles to be released, joining KOF 15 as a new era of fighting games. Tekken 8 news is released on an almost weekly basis. Fighting EX Layer will receive an entire overhaul in the near future. There are other arcade classics, like Breakers Collection, being released to a wider audience for the first time in decades. With more content on the way for The King of Fighters 15 along with the Fatal Fury revival, this is nowhere near the end for SNK.
SNK has had a storied history thanks to decades of fan support and that same support can be felt with every local tournament and every player, old and young, supporting King of Fighters as a franchise. The classic games in the series get just as much love as the newer titles and muscle memory prevails. On the other end, it never has been a better time to get into The King of Fighters even if it may seem intimidating. Just remember, the challenge is meant to be taken by those willing to accept it. You don’t need to be the best to be a part of history, you just have to be there.