|The King of Fighters '96||Team Stories||Stories||Gallery||Credits||Trivia|
An epic selection of battlers in history! Can you feel the heat?
The King of Fighters '96 (ザ・キング・オブ・ファイターズ
The game was ported to the PlayStation and Sega Saturn in Japan; the Saturn port requires a memory expansion cartridge to run. Like with '95, '96 would receive a Game Boy product based on it, called Nettō The King of Fighters '96 (ネット ザ・キング・オブ・ファイターズ
In terms of gameplay changes, this is the first game in the series to allow characters to run and roll, while also redrawing the sprites from the ground up from the prior installment.
The development period for KOF '96 dragged on right up to the time of its scheduled release. At the location test for the title, Mature and Vice were still not included in the game, since the staff did not have enough time to completely design them. While using Neo-Geo MVS, this one includes 68 KB of RAM of video and 64 KB of RAM. This made The King of Fighters '96 the first game to break the technical limits of the MVS system.
Kasumi Todoh was added to the cast since the coinciding release of Art of Fighting 3 had increased the character's profile. Geese Howard from Fatal Fury was first meant to appear in KOF '95, but developers abandoned this idea. When KOF '96 began development, the staff decided to make Geese become a playable character. The Boss Team in which he starred along with Mr. Big and Wolfgang Krauser received "special treatment", such as music for each individual member (in comparison to other teams, who only had one). Due to memory restrictions, some of the special moves that were designed for Geese had to be left out of the game. The sub-boss character, Chizuru Kagura, was the hardest one to create. Her pixelated image was completed in a month, and the designer in charge of her often worked until six in the morning. The game also meant to introduce Whip into the Ikari Warriors Team. However, due to Leona's introduction in the same team, the developers waited until The King of Fighters '99 to add her to the cast.
The original KOF '96 was released for Japanese arcades on July 30, 1996. Neo Geo and Neo Geo CD versions were released on September 27, 1996 and October 25, 1996, respectively. The Sega Saturn port was released on December 31, 1996 and the PlayStation port on July 4, 1997. Unlike the previous game, the PlayStation and Saturn versions were released only in Japan, with a language setting allowing the player to set the game to English. The Saturn version optionally uses a 1MB RAM cartridge to run additional animations which would not fit in the Saturn's internal RAM. A Saturn Best Collection version of the port was released on October 1, 1998. The PlayStation version was a best seller and was rereleased in the PlayStation the Best series in Japan. It was also included in The King of Fighters Collection: The Orochi Saga in 2008 for the PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable and Wii.
Like the previous game, a Game Boy game based on The King of Fighters '96 was released by Takara in Japan titled Nettō The King of Fighters '96 on August 8, 1997, and was released in Europe titled The King of Fighters: Heat of Battle in 1998. This version only includes 17 of the 29 characters in the original version. The Game Boy game features a secret code called "Carnage" mode, which allows the player's (including CPU) Power Gauge to be filled automatically without charging. This feature also enables the player to use powerful versions of their Super Special Moves and normal versions of Super Special Moves without having the player's health at a low rate. Characters exclusive to the Game Boy version includes Orochi Iori and Orochi Leona from The King of Fighters '97, a stronger version of Chizuru Kagura, the final boss of the game, Goenitz, and Mr. Karate (Takuma's persona in the original Art of Fighting).
An extensive database for the game, titled The King of Fighters '96 Neo Geo Collection, was released on February 14, 1997 to promote the year's title. It was available only for the Neo-Geo CD. The database includes the game's intro, an interactive reenactment of the game's backstory, character profiles spoken by their voice actors, outtakes, an exclusive gallery section from the creators, a complete command list and a sound selection. A similar version of this game, The King of Fighters '96 Perfect File, was also released for Windows and Macintosh computers. This version was released on June 18, 1997 and includes most of the features found in its predecessor
As the fighter takes damage and blocks attacks, the POW Gauge builds up, depending on the intensity of the hit. Being struck by multi-hit attacks increases the gauge faster. However, you can manually store power with the Power Builder Surge move, but leaves you very vulnerable. Once the gauge is filled up, it flashes MAXIMUM and your fighter's offensive power increases for a short while. During this maxed-out state, you can also perform your character's unique Desperation Move for devastating damage! The gauge remains at max for a limited time only, so make good use of the extra attack power and don't be afraid to use your Desperation Move before the gauge drains away!
The character's life gauge has 6 notches. Once the life gauge drops below 2 notches, the gauge flashes red. In this time of peril, your character can perform Desperation Moves indefinitely without the maximum POW Gauge requirement. An new feature to the game is once your life flashes red AND you have your POW Gauge filled-up, you can pull off a Super Desperation Move which deals up to twice the damage of the normal version (and has an altered animation)! It's a great way to turn the tides of battle! Certain situations during the fight may even allow you to perform Super Desperation Moves just by having a full POW Gauge!
In addition, the POW Gauge drains much faster when it is filled up to the max by blocking attacks or taking damage. Using the Power Builder Surge to store power grants you more time in Max Mode before it completely empties.
Furthermore, new to this game as a series staple onwards is the introduction of running (which replaces the forward hop dash that was readded later on in some modes) and the ability to forward roll and back roll (replacing the spot-dodge-styled sidestep and sidestep attack).
The official story given by SNK is as follows:
"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...."
This game is the first in which teams undergo substantial changes. The new characters introduced in this game (between originals and of other franchises) are:
Official Team Roster
Special Edit Teams
Game Boy Exclusive Characters
An extensive database for game, titled The King of Fighters '96 Neo Geo Collection, was released on February 14, 1997 to promote the year's title. It was available only for the Neo Geo CD. The database included the game's into, an interactive reenactment of the game's backstory, character profiles spoken by their voice actors, outtakes, an exclusive gallery section from the creators, a complete command list and a sound selection. A similar version of this game, The King of Fighters '96 Perfect File, was also released for Windows and Macintosh computers. This version was released on June 18, 1997 and included most of the features found in its predecessor.
In 1998, the game was pirated to the NES by a company called Hummer Team. This version only includes 7 characters: Leona, Iori, Chizuru, Goenitz, Yuri, Goro and King. Originally, there were going to be 20 characters, but 13 of them were cut out. They are: Kyo (as "Kyu") Kusanagi, Benimaru (as "Benimary") Nikaido, Terry Bogard, Andy Bogard, Joe Higashi, Ryo Sakazaki, Kim Kaphwan, Ralf Jones, Athena Asamiya, Kasumi Todoh, Mai Shiranui, Geese Howard, and Wolfgang Krauser.
- Note 1: The Yagami Team and Goenitz's stages don't have intros.
- Note 2: This game is last of the franchise where the player can fight all teams in Arcade mode.
- Warning: The sight of some stages can cause epilepsy.
- Osaka at Night — Hero Team: A walkway in Osaka, next to the famous train station and in a school. The fight occurs in a cloudy day. Can be seen students sitting, leaning over the terrace of the catwalk and others cheering on the balcony of the school. Most wear suit and tie (men) and more formal uniforms. Also can be seen a viaduct, a plaque with the train stations, two screens with the active fighters, followed by the lettering "FIGHTING NOW" and the game's special logo for this game, vehicles passing and, in the background, the SNK's headquarters. This stage also is present in KOF XIII.
- Intro: the special logo of the game with the writing "1996 IN JAPAN".
- South Town Railroad at Noon — Fatal Fury Team: An abandoned railroad next to a railway. The fight occurs in a sunny day. Can be seen people watching the fight, light poles, tires, somes plaques, a weather vane, a house and a truck.
- Intro: flags with the game's special logo in the sky.
- South Town Railroad at Night — Art of Fighting Team: The same stage of the Fatal Fury Team. The changes are: the weather, with a sunset that turns into cloudy sky in the fourth round; an attendant sitting in the right; a red luxury car instead of the truck; and a water tank that wasn't visible in the other version of the stage.
- Intro: the Kanji "absolutely invincible" (絶対無敵 zettai muteki ) on a black background, along with the name of the team's source game.
- Ikari Warboat — Ikari Warriors Team: An aquatic platform. Can be seen a flag with the game's name and special logo, metal structures partially destroyed and, in the background, people cheering, two bridges, buildings and a balcony with stairs.
- Intro: a helicopter flying over the stage.
- Osaka at Noon — Psycho Soldier Team: The same stage of the Hero Team. The changes are: it's sunny day; the crowd is different, wearing costumes of Psycho Soldier Team and school uniforms; and can be seen some photos of Athena, from screens to posters with the writing "ATHENA ASAMIYA: LIVE TOUR '96".
- Intro: the writing "IN OSAKA".
- Skyscraper Restaurant — Women Fighters Team: A restaurant on the top floor of a building. Can be seen clients sitting in the tables, an aquarium in the right, a big chandelier, light projectores, a flag with the name and logo of the game, a small artificial waterfall in the middle of the stage and the waitresses of King, Sally and Elizabeth, besides Ryuhaku Todoh, Kasumi's father. In the background, the city can be seen.
- Intro: a small close up on the floor of the building.
- Hwaseong Fortress Waterway — Korea Justice Team: A famous palace in the city of Suwon. The fight takes in front to the Gate. Can be seen people cheering, bands with Hangul and the game's name and special logo.
- Intro: the gates of the temple opening.
- The Shipyard — Yagami Team: An aquatic ring with the game's special logo, next to a pier and a ship. Can be seen people cheering, light posts, lifebuoys, a red car, buildings (one with the sign ALPHA) and a bridge and flashing lights in the background. Also can be seen bats flying over the stage.
- Note: In lieu of an intro, the screen has a fade-in effect like a video screen being turned on.
Sub-Boss & Boss Stages
- The Strolheim Tunnel — Boss Team: A balcony with a high-class public and other swinging flags with the game's special logo, a small gondola with a gondolier and a film crew and a small ladder can be seen. When the boat sails through the tunnel, the gondola follows the route. Stroheim Castle can be seen in the ongoing thunderstorm.
- Intro: the gate of the tunnel.
- Note 1: The stage also appears in KOF '98: Ultimate Match, with some changes.
- Note 2: in this game, the boat moves in the second and fourth rounds. In KOF '98: UM, the boat starts to move from the 2nd round, back to the place of origin in the 4th round and moves back in the final round.
- Note 3: In KOF '98 UM, this stage is called Dark Arena.
- The Finals at Kagura Stadium: A glamorous stadium where the finals of the tournament take place. Can be seen an euphoric audience, photographers, videographers, bands with the sponsors, the game's logo, women with bikini and people dressed like some characters. In the arena, can be seen the game's logo and name, pillars, stone lions and a screen, when appears the name's game and the words LAST STAGE and THE FINAL BATTLE, besides Kyo, Iori, Andy, Robert and Clark fighting. Associated with Chizuru.
- Intro: the game's name and special logo.
- The Ruins of Kagura Stadium: The Kagura Staduim destroyed by a hurricane. Can be seen the collapsed pillars, the broken floor and the scorched arena. The bands are scattered and flying all over the stage and the screen is knocked over. Only one band remained, with the name Masato, a former SNK illustrator. In one round, can be seen a person (who was dressed like Athena) trying to hold a ruined pillar, but is blown away by the wind. Associated with Goenitz.
- Note: The stage also appears in KOF '98: Ultimate Match, with some changes.
In Japan, Game Machine listed The King of Fighters '96 on their September 1, 1996 issue as being the most-successful arcade game of the month. According to Famitsu, the AES version sold over 33,323 copies in its first week on the market.
The game received praise and criticism from video game publications, which commented on its new additions. The four reviewers of Electronic Gaming Monthly gave the Neo Geo AES version a 7.5 out of 10, citing the huge roster of fighters and retention of the series' strong playability. However, Dan Hsu and Sushi-X both criticized it for failing to improve graphically over the previous installment and thereby keep up with contemporary 2D fighting series such as Street Fighter. 1UP.com noted the game to be unbalanced in comparison to its prequel such as noting the projectile attacks needed to be improved. However, they liked the additions of Vice and Mature and more character interaction such as the special introductions between related characters, custom endings and custom winposes. Chris Wigham from consoleob.com also found issues with projectile moves, as the fights were closer. However, he noted the graphics to have gone through a big improvement in comparison to KOF '95. Zentendo.com writer Chuck Allen praised the improvements of music and voice acting such as the announcer's voice which is "audible and understandable". He also praised the addition of new characters to the cast as well as the boss Goenitz, who is easier to defeat than Rugal Berstein from KOF '95. In a review from the compilation The King of Fighters Collection: The Orochi Saga, George Damidas from entdepot.com commented that KOF '96 should be the first game as he praised the graphical improvements and the new characters appearing in the series.
Electronic Gaming Monthly editors named The King of Fighters '96 their Neo Geo Game of the Year, calling it "an excellent packaged deal for any fan of 2-D sprite-based fighting games."
The rerelease port obtained a good review by Nintendo Life based on the improvements SNK added to the title, such as balancing the gameplay, movements of characters but criticized the audio.
GameSpot noted the game helped start "a modest resurgence in the sales of AES consoles and cartridges." During its release week, the Sega Saturn port of the game sold 109,752 copies in Japan. As of 2004, the sales went to 155,116.
Ryo Takamisaki also wrote The King of Fighters G, a manga that retells the events of the game following Athena Asamiya.
- Neo Geo Collection Character Profiles and Interviews Part 1
- Neo Geo Collection Character Profiles and Interviews Part 2
- Neo Geo Collection Character Profiles and Interviews Part 3
- Neo Geo Collection Character Profiles and Interviews Part 4
- Neo Geo Collection Character Profiles and Interviews Part 5
- Neo Geo Collection Story Check
- Gameboy footage