The King of Fighters XIV logo.

For the tournament, check The King of Fighters (tournament).

The King of Fighters (ザ・キング・オブ・ファイターズ, Za Kingu Obu Faitāzu), officially abbreviated KOF, is the most prominent series of fighting games by SNK. Its claim to fame is the large cast of characters and the innovative "team" system, with both original designs and characters from other SNK games.

The series was originally developed for SNK's Neo Geo video game systems, which would continue until SNK retired the Neo Geo completely in 2004. For the next few games, the Atomiswave would be used, and later the Taito Type X2. Aside from this, ports of the arcade games and original The King of Fighters games have been released for the various consoles of then and now, such as SNK's own Neo Geo Pocket, the Game Boy and Game Boy Advance, the Sega Saturn and the Dreamcast, the PlayStation and Xbox series of consoles, and even the N-Gage, among others.

The latest main game in the series, The King of Fighters XIV, was released on August 23, 2016 for PlayStation 4, and on June 15, 2017 for Steam.



Screenshot of The King of Fighters 2001, showing May Lee vs. Kensou

The first game in the series, The King of Fighters '94, was released by SNK in 1994. The game was designed to be a dream match of characters from the company's various arcade titles, particularly Fatal Fury, Art of Fighting, Ikari Warriors, and Psycho Soldier. The success of the game lead to SNK to release yearly installments of the series and numbered the games for the year they were released. With yearly sports games, each new version is meant to be an "update"; SNK did differently, making each year unique with new rules and a constantly changing character rosters even to this day. By 2004, SNK abandoned yearly releases of the series and usually numbered future games in a more traditional manner: the first main series game released as such was The King of Fighters XI.

In 2004, SNK produced the first 3D installment of the series, KOF: Maximum Impact. The game and its two sequels use an alternate story for characters and settings from previous games of the series, leaning more towards the South Town-based series like FF and AOF. The producer of the Maximum Impact series, Falcoon, stated that the Maximum Impact games are in a different canon from the original series of games.

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From right to left, Kyo Kusanagi, KOF's original hero and his rival Iori Yagami, in promotional artwork of The King of Fighters '98 Ultimate Match. Illustration by Hiroaki.

The King of Fighters tournament, the namesake of this series, actually originated in Fatal Fury, a classic SNK fighting game that predated the KOF series. The later Art of Fighting was centered around an earlier iteration, featuring typical sponsor Geese Howard in a younger self.

The King of Fighters games have had a number of villains as their individual end bosses. The first of these was Rugal Bernstein in '94 who had a tendency to submerge his defeated foes in liquid metal, turning them into grisly trophies commemorating his victories. During the Orochi saga, Orochi is introduced as an ominous force from ancient times bent on revenge on those who imprisoned it and was aided by his four heralds. In later games, a mysterious organization called NESTS attempts to kidnap and succeeds in cloning Kyo Kusanagi in hopes of using his power to take over the world. The leader of NESTS, who called himself Igniz, hoped to amass enough power to become a god. Other villains in later games include Mukai and "Those from the Past" that he affiliates himself with, including Magaki, as well as the Mephistopheles group (Maximum Impact series).

In order to preserve their characters' images, SNK ceased to age their characters since The King of Fighters '95 and they have remained the same ages since then. This means that characters introduced in The King of Fighters '94 have only aged one year in the series. To stay true to this theme, newer characters following this year also keep the same age they have when introduced. Some concessions to age and the passing of time exist, though, such as Terry's switch to his Garou outfit, or Kyo no longer being in high school since 1998. Ages have stopped being officially listed since KOF XI, likely to avoid confusion amongst fans.




  • The King of Fighters '95 (Novel)
  • The King of Fighters '96 ~Rumbling on the City~
  • The King of Fighters '97: First Volume ~Owari Naki Natsu No Saigo Ni~
  • The King of Fighters '97: Second Volume ~660-Nen-Me Fo Futari~
  • The King of Fighters '98: Dream Match Never Ends ~Nokosa Reta-Sha-Tachi~
  • The King of Fighters '98: Dream Match Never Ends ~Saidai Tasuu No Saidai Koufuku~
  • The King of Fighters '99 ~Beyond The "K"~
  • The King of Fighters 2000: Icicle Doll
  • The King of Fighters 2000: Strikers Strike Back
  • The King of Fighters 2001: More Than Human
  • The King of Fighters 2001: The Gods Themselves

Drama CDs

Films & Animations

Card Games

  • The King of Fighters 2006: Collectible Card Game - It is a collectible card game that was released in December, 2006, originally designed by Sabertooth Games as part of the Universal Fighting System (UFS). Other games like Samurai Shodown VStreet Fighter and Soul Calibur III are also included into the series. Character started packs were released for Terry Bogard, Mai Shiranui, and eventually Rock Howard.

Characters Introduction

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External Links

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