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Position in the series
Saga/Story Arc
Chapter
Is it canonical?
5th
Orochi Saga
Dream Match
No


Two, three! It all began in '94, kept on rollin' in '95. Fell in place in '96, it came to an end in '97. And now it comes, say here we go, KOF is here again, nothing's gonna stop... It's 1998!

-Intro

The all-star dream match never ends.

-Tagline

The King of Fighters '98: Dream Match Never Ends (ザ・キング・オブ・ファイターズ '98ナインティエイト ドリームマッチネバーエンズ), subtitled as The Slugfest in international releases, is the fifth game in The King of Fighters series. The game was released for the Neo Geo and later ported to the Sony's platform PlayStation. The Dreamcast port of the game was titled The King of Fighters: Dream Match 1999. A remake titled The King of Fighters '98 Ultimate Match was released in Japanese arcades on March 18, 2008 and later on the PlayStation 2, PlayStation 4 and PC (through Steam and GOG). The original game was then released on the mobile systems (iOS and Android) on July 24, 2014.

The game does not have a storyline. Instead, it was developed as a "dream match" game featuring characters from all previous King of Fighters games, including killed-off characters. The series' canon storyline continues in The King of Fighters '99.

Development

In The King of Fighters '96, several moves from Kyo Kusanagi were changed in order to adapt him to the new game system. However, the original moveset was still popular among gamers and as such, an alternative version of Kyo was added to The King of Fighters '97. The introduction of this version was noted to be "a hit" within gamers, the staff kept adding new alternative versions of other characters in KOF '98. Since this game did not have a storyline, the SNK staff decided to return Rugal Bernstein as the boss character noting that "he's the only character who truly represents the ultimate KOF boss." Additionally, some of his special moves were redesigned, which the staff found to have made him the strongest version of Rugal as well as one of their favorites

Gameplay

This game has two systems: ADVANCED and EXTRA.

ADVANCED MODE

This mode employs aggressive tactics and the gameplay from The King of Fighters '96 and '97. Can be used the new rolling sidesteps to quickly rout the enemy and build up your POW Gauge using your special moves. As the fighter performs special moves and takes damage, the POW Gauge builds up, depending on the special moves used. Using multi-hit attacks increases the gauge faster. Once the gauge is filled up, one power stock is stored, indicated by a green flashing orb. A player can store up to 3 stocks at a time. The player can then use Desperation Moves at the cost of one stock.

In addition, with at least one stock stored, the player can activate MAX Mode where he is granted extra damage to his attacks and suffers less damage from the opponent. A timer indicates the elapsed time while the mode remains active. If the player also has more stocks stored while in this mode, he can pull off a more powerful Super Desperation Move which deals up to twice the damage of the normal version! It's a great way to turn the tides of battle! Once the mode ends, the character's attributes revert to normal, keeping any stocks he has stored.

When Advanced Mode users lose team members, the new Advantage System awards the player by increasing the maximum amount of stocks that can be stored. The 1st member can store 3 stocks, the 2nd can store 4 stocks, while the last member can have the maximum of 5 stocks stored at a time.

EXTRA MODE

This mode employs defensive tactics and the gameplay from The King of Fighters '94 to '95. Can be used the classic dodge move to evade enemy attacks and Power Charge to build up your POW Gauge. 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 Charger 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. Once your character's life gauge drops below 20%, the gauge flashes orange. In this time of peril, your character can perform Desperation Moves indefinitely without the maximum POW Gauge requirement. If your life flashes orange 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.

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 Charger to store power grants you more time in Max Mode before it completely empties. When Extra Mode users lose team members, the new Advantage System awards the player by decreasing the length of the gauge to fill it up faster. The 1st member has the gauge at 100%, the 2nd has a 75% length, while the last member can charge up to Max Level fastest at 50%.

Social Relations

Following the footsteps of its predecessor for teammate social relations, can be selected the order your characters will fight.

In the Order Select Screen, hold down the START button to see the smiley icons that depict partner relationships. These icons identify how POW stocks are affected between rounds (when in Advanced Mode), and if your teammates will help you by calling off a Back-Up Attack (both Advanced and Extra Modes). The icons do not affect your Power Gauge, only your current POW stocks. The character relations specifically reflect on the order you have designated.

Icon
Relation
Effect
Smiley1.png
Happy
The two characters have friendly terms. One stock is awarded once the next character comes into play. If undefeated, they will always help in a Back-Up Attack.
Smiley2.png
Neutral
The two characters are cold to each other. The number of stocks remain unchanged between battles. If undefeated, they may or may not help in a Back-Up Attack.
Smiley3.png
Angry
The two characters despise each other. One stock is taken off once the next character comes into play. Even if undefeated, they will never help in a Back-Up Attack.

Characters

Official Team Roster

Hero Team (A.K.A. Japan Team or Protagonist Team)

Kyo97.gif

Kyo Kusanagi

Beni-kof98.gif

Benimaru Nikaido

Gorodaimon96.gif

Goro Daimon

Fatal Fury Team (A.K.A. Garou Densetsu Team)

Terry-sprite1.gif

Terry Bogard

Andy98.gif

Andy Bogard

Joe96.gif

Joe Higashi

Art of Fighting Team (A.K.A. Kyokugenryu Team)

Ryo-stance98.gif

Ryo Sakazaki

Robert 97 animation 3.gif

Robert Garcia

Yuri98.gif

Yuri Sakazaki

Ikari Warriors Team

Leona96.gif

Leona Heidern

Ralf96.gif

Ralf Jones

Clark96.gif

Clark Still

Psycho Soldier Team

Athena98.gif

Athena Asamiya

Kensou98.gif

Sie Kensou

Chin96.gif

Chin Gentsai

Women Fighters Team

Chizuru96.gif

Chizuru Kagura

Mai96.gif

Mai Shiranui

King98.gif

King

Korea Justice Team

Kimkaphwan96.gif

Kim Kaphwan

Chang96.gif

Chang Koehan

Choi96.gif

Choi Bounge

New Faces Team (A.K.A. Orochi Team)

Yashiro97.gif

Yashiro Nanakase

Shermie97.gif

Shermie

Chris97.gif

Chris

'97 Special Team

Yamazaki97.gif

Ryuji Yamazaki

Bluemary98.gif

Blue Mary

Billykane97.gif

Billy Kane

Sub-Bosses Teams

Yagami Team

Iori96.gif

Iori Yagami

Mature98.gif

Mature

Vice98.gif

Vice

Masters Team

Heidern98.gif

Heidern

Takuma98.gif

Takuma Sakazaki

Saisyu98.gif

Saisyu Kusanagi

American Sports Team

Heavyd98.gif

Heavy-D!

Lucky98.gif

Lucky Glauber

Brian98.gif

Brian Battler

Single Entry

Rugal98.gif

Rugal Bernstein

Mid-Boss

Shingo98.gif

Shingo Yabuki

Final Boss

Omegarugal98.gif

Omega Rugal

Alternate Characters

Awakened Orochi Team

Orochiyashiro97.gif

Orochi Yashiro

Orochishermie97.gif

Orochi Shermie

Orochichris98.gif

Orochi Chris

Alternate Character Versions

Kyo97.gif

EX Kyo Kusanagi (Based on his moveset from The King of Fighters '95)

Terry-sprite1.gif

EX Terry Bogard (Based on his moveset from Real Bout Fatal Fury 2)

Andy98.gif

EX Andy Bogard (Based on his moveset from Real Bout Fatal Fury 2)

Joe96.gif

EX Joe Higashi (Based on his moveset from The King of Fighters '94)

Mai96.gif

EX Mai Shiranui (Based on her moveset from Real Bout Fatal Fury 2)

Billykane97.gif

EX Billy Kane (Based on his moveset from Real Bout Fatal Fury 2)

Ryo-stance98.gif

EX Ryo Sakazaki (Based on his moveset from The King of Fighters '94)

Robert 97 animation 3.gif

EX Robert Garcia (Based on his moveset from The King of Fighters '94)

Yuri98.gif

EX Yuri Sakazaki (Based on her moveset from The King of Fighters '94)

Special Edit Teams

Sacred Treasures Team

Kyo97.gif

Kyo Kusanagi

Iori96.gif

Iori Yagami

Chizuru96.gif

Chizuru Kagura

Shingo Team

Kyo97.gif

Kyo Kusanagi

Iori96.gif

Iori Yagami

Shingo98.gif

Shingo Yabuki

Rugal Team

Rugal98.gif

Rugal Bernstein

Mature98.gif

Mature

Vice98.gif

Vice

SNK Heroes Team

Kyo97.gif

Kyo Kusanagi

Terry-sprite1.gif

Terry Bogard

Ryo-stance98.gif

Ryo Sakazaki

No. 2 Team

Beni-kof98.gif

Benimaru Nikaido

Andy98.gif

Andy Bogard

Robert 97 animation 3.gif

Robert Garcia

No. 3 Team

Gorodaimon96.gif

Goro Daimon

Joe96.gif

Joe Higashi

Yuri98.gif

Yuri Sakazaki

Baseball Team

Ralf96.gif

Ralf Jones

Bluemary98.gif

Blue Mary

Lucky98.gif

Lucky Glauber

Father Team

Saisyu98.gif

Saisyu Kusanagi

Takuma98.gif

Takuma Sakazaki

Kimkaphwan96.gif

Kim Kaphwan

Rapid-Punch Team

Billykane97.gif

Billy Kane

Chang96.gif

Chang Koehan

Joe96.gif

Joe Higashi

Severely Burned Team

Kyo97.gif

Kyo Kusanagi

Saisyu98.gif

Saisyu Kusanagi

Orochichris98.gif

Orochi Chris

Sakazaki Family Team

Ryo-stance98.gif

Ryo Sakazaki

Yuri98.gif

Yuri Sakazaki

Takuma98.gif

Takuma Sakazaki

Teen Team

Shingo98.gif

Shingo Yabuki

Kensou98.gif

Sie Kensou

Chris97.gif

Chris

Orochi Ladies Team

Shermie97.gif

Shermie

Mature98.gif

Mature

Vice98.gif

Vice

Orochi Men Team

Yashiro97.gif

Yashiro Nanakase

Chris97.gif

Chris

Yamazaki97.gif

Ryuji Yamazaki

Kusanagi Style Team

Kyo97.gif

Kyo Kusanagi

Saisyu98.gif

Saisyu Kusanagi

Shingo98.gif

Shingo Yabuki

Comedy Team

Robert 97 animation 3.gif

Robert Garcia

Kensou98.gif

Sie Kensou

Choi96.gif

Choi Bounge

"Cute" Team

Choi96.gif

Choi Bounge

Chin96.gif

Chin Gentsai

Chang96.gif

Chang Koehan

Cap Team

Terry-sprite1.gif

Terry Bogard

Lucky98.gif

Lucky Glauber

Clark96.gif

Clark Still

Other Hero Team

Shingo98.gif

Shingo Yabuki

Beni-kof98.gif

Benimaru Nikaido

Gorodaimon96.gif

Goro Daimon

Other Ikari Warriors Team

Leona96.gif

Leona

Ralf96.gif

Ralf Jones

Heidern98.gif

Heidern

Other Heroines Team

Athena98.gif

Athena Asamiya

Mai96.gif

Mai Shiranui

Yuri98.gif

Yuri Sakazaki

Destructors Team

Ralf96.gif

Ralf Jones

Brian98.gif

Brian Battler

Chang96.gif

Chang Koehan

April 8th Birthday Team

King98.gif

King

Mature98.gif

Mature

Shingo98.gif

Shingo Yabuki

Stages

Note 1: This game is the last of the series in which the characters are waiting to fight in the background. It's also the first game of the franchise with Practice mode. In the remake of the game ('98 UM), in the 3D backgrounds (only available in PS2 and PS4 versions), the natural sounds of the stages doesn't appears. In addition, the changes of the stages are different in both versions.
Note 2: This game is the first of the series in which all stages are selectable (only in Versus Mode). Acessing the game settings, the Versus Mode can have stages chosen randomly. In Team and Single Play Modes, the stages are automaticly chosen randomly.
Note 3: In this game, only the Sub-Bosses and the Final Boss have associated stages.
Warning: The sight of some stages can cause epilepsy.

Normal Stages

  • Japan Street: A viaduct next to the Esaka Train Station and SNK's headquarters, in the city of Osaka. There are various vehicles, an LED panel with the game and SNK's name, a crosswalk, people cheering, a toll and a karaoke in the background.
    • Changes: in the 1st round, the stage is partially full of cars; in the 2nd round, partially empty, but some vehicles can be seen passing by; from the 3rd round, there is a congestion due to the fight, and it is possible to hear a horn. In the PS2 UM version, depending on the round, vehicles or people can be seen.
    • Note: When Choi wins the third round in more than 30 seconds, a special cameo appears, of two students on a bicycle. This only happens if the player don't defeat the opponent on the following conditions: perfect, use throwing punches, use of C + D buttons, use command punches or use the same punch in the same fight. Only Choi can win, he must be the second or third chosen by the player, defeat the second character of the opponent team and press C button immediately after victory.
  • Middle East: An ancient Arabic commercial village. Can be seen tents, merchants, vases, carpets, fruits and people. In all rounds, can be seen a boy asking his mother to watch the fight, and shortly after, running close to her and vibrating. In the PS2 UM version, the time of the stage changes, from dawn, to daytime, to evening. The boy appears only the second and final rounds.

Gameplay of Ryo vs. Terry

  • Korea: A pier in Seoul. Can be seen a fruit truck and a fair in the left, a shop, a bridge in the middle and, in the background, the Yeonju-dae and Yonjuam temples. Also can be seen a man watching the fight in the window, on the right, and seagulls, listening to the noise of the birds. In the PS2 UM version, the time of the stage changes, from dawn, to daytime, to evening. The man doesn't appear.
    • Note: in the PS2 UM version, in the 2D background, the seagulls don't appear next to the temple.
  • China: A boat passing in Wulingyuan, in Hunan Province. The fight takes place while the boat sails by the river. Can be seen two native men: one, sitting on the bow on the right, and the other paddling the boat, on the left.
    • Changes: in the 1st round, can be seen a temple in the beginning; in the 2nd round, the rocks and a waterfall; in the 4th round, only the rocks; and in the 3rd and the final round, a mountain covered by a fog. In the PS2 UM version, the temple appears in the second round, the mountain, only in the fourth round, and the waterfall, in the final round.
  • Spain: The Court of the Lions, in the Alhambra Palace, in the city of Granada. Can be seen a foutain, shrubs, lamps and a white cat passing through the stage. It is also possible to hear the fountain spouting.
    • Changes: in the 1st and 2nd rounds, it's day; in the 3rd round, sunset, and the fountain stopping to a gush; from the 4th round, night.

Sub-Boss & Boss Stages

  • USA Yard (A.K.A. Train Yard) — Yagami Team: A train garage. Can be seen a gray train, a dog tossing a trash can and a plaque with the sign MOTEL.
    • Changes: From the 2nd round, can be seen a wagon, which is approaching in the 3rd round, departs in the 4th and returns to the same place as the second in the final round. Besides that, the time changes to sunset from the third round. In PS2 UM version, the changes are: in the first round, the grey train appears; in the second round, the wagon appears; in the fourth round, the wagon departs. Strangely, the wagon departs once again in the fifth round.
    • Note: The wagon appears only in the arcade version and, in the PS2 UM version, only in the 3D background.
  • Japan Temple — Masters Team: The Art of Fighting Team's stage in KOF '95. In the '98 version, the Kyokugenryu Dojo is partially destroyed, and can be seen trees, shrubs, the wrecks of the building and fireflies floating in the background. When any player makes a strong move with his character, parts of the roof begin to fall.
    • Changes: until the 2nd round, it's nighttime; in the 3rd round, it's dawn; in the 4th round, it's morning and the fireflies are gone; in the fifth round, it's daytime. In PS2 UM version, the stage is always at night but, from the third round, fireflies start floating around much closer to the fighting lane.

Gameplay of Ryo vs. Brian

  • USA Wharf (A.K.A. Basketball Court) — American Sports Team: The American Sports Team's stage in KOF '94. The only difference between the old stage and the new is the people and the animals: in the '98 version, can be seen some cameos, a street dog and people wearing a suit and tie, and, occasionally Ryuhaku Todoh. The stage is partially empty and the old ring has turned into a junkyard.
    • Changes: in the 1st round, sunset; in the 2nd and 3rd rounds, night; from the 4th round, smelly fog. In the PS2 UM version, the fog appears from the third round.
  • Unknown (A.K.A. Black Noah): A submarine. The wreck of another can be seen behind the glass, along with sharks, jellyfish and flashlights. There are also a pool filled with blood, portraits of Rugal, and his black panther. The lighting progressively becomes more and more blue with each round. Associated with Omega Rugal.
    • Note 1: In the Dreamcast version, the stage is called Sunken Ship.
    • Note 2: In the PS2 UM version, the lightning doesn't change.

Critical Reception

n Japan, Game Machine listed The King of Fighters '98 on their September 1, 1998 issue as being the most-successful arcade game of the month. According to Famitsu, the AES version sold over 22,651 copies in its first week on the market.

During its release week, the Dreamcast port of the game sold 58,354 copies in Japan. As of 2004, the sales increased to 104,049. Famitsu magazine scored the Dreamcast port of KOF '98 a 30 out of 40, and GameRankings gave it a 71% based on a total of 18 reviews.

Various reviewers from video game publications have commented on KOF '98. While reviewing the compilation The King of Fighters: The Orochi Saga, Matt Edwards from Eurogamer noted KOF '98 to be the most enjoyable game from the collection as well as the most famous game from the series "that really made people stand up and take an interest in the series. We'd disagree in favor of some of the later games, but for its time KOF '98 was reasonably well balanced for a 2D fighter. And there's no denying it was a blast." The game also received praise by 1UP.com writer Richard Li who found it to be the most balanced game from the KOF series due to the fact it improved the game mechanics from the previous titles. Jeremy Dunham from IGN gave the game an 8.4, praising, apart from the gameplay and characters, the graphics, the music as well as the background designs added for the Dreamcast version. However, he was disappointed with the lack of story in the game, noting the ones from previous games to be very entertaining. GameSpot's Jeff Gerstmann found it to be one of the best 2D fighting games, noting that although new players may find it hard to play due to the difficulty in executing various special moves and how difficult the opponent AI is. Although Andy Chien from Gaming Age found that the Dreamcast port of the game was well done since it does not have the disadvantages that it had in other consoles, he noted it "could have been a lot better." He also found that the game had a bug when he tried to perform a special move from Mai Shiranui, which unlike the other ports, is very inconsistent.

Tom Russo reviewed the Dreamcast version of the game for Next Generation, rating it two stars out of five, and stated that "Not bad, but with so many other high-quality fighters available, this one only makes sense for players nostalgic for old NeoGeo fighting games."

GameRankings gave Ultimate Match a 77% based on 14 reviews for the PlayStation 2 version and 74% based on 5 reviews for the Xbox 360 version. Metacritic gave it a 73 out of 100 for both the PlayStation 2 and Xbox 360 versions based on 11 reviews and 4 reviews respectively. Various publications for video games and other media have commented on Ultimate Match with IGN writer Ryan Clements giving it a 7.8, saying that probably this game should only be recommended to fans of The King of Fighters due to how old its graphics are as well as the little balance it has with 60 characters being playable. James Mielke from 1UP.com complained on how the game is very similar to KOF '98, but found the controls to be comfortable and intuitive for any fans of 2D fighting games. However, Heath Hooker from GameZone found that the gameplay and sound from the game make up for the graphics even though there is not much difference between KOF '98 and KOF '98: Ultimate Match. In 2013, KOF '98 Ultimate Match was ranked as the 15th best arcade game of the 1990s by Complex, who also called it "possibly the greatest SNK fighting game of them all," and included it on their list of 25 best 2D fighting games of all time in 2013.

In 2017, the Chinese mobile game King of Fighters '98UM OL grossed ¥9.8 billion ($89.9 million) in Japan

Trivia

  • This game is the first of the series with the functionality "Random Character".
    • However, the "Random Character" choose only aleatory characters.
  • The Mid-Bosses of this game appears in Team Play as a Single Entry. However, this don't occurs with the teams before the Boss.

See also

Gallery

Trailer

External links

The King of Fighters series
Main '94'95'96'97'98'992000200120022003XIXIIXIIIXIVXV
Remakes The King of Fighters: Dream Match 1999'99 Evolution'94 Re-Bout'98 Ultimate Match2002 Unlimited Match
Offshoots King of Fighters R-1R-2The King of Fighters EX: Neo BloodEX2: Howling BloodNeowave
Spin-offs Quiz King of FightersThe King of Fighters: KyoBattle de ParadiseKOF: Maximum ImpactKOF: Maximum Impact 2KOF Maximum Impact Regulation "A"KOF Sky StageOnline'98 Ultimate Match WebSNK Heroines Tag Team Frenzy
Mobile The King of Fighters -Mobile- / R-2-Volleyball-KOF Gals MahjongThe King of MillionaireThe King of ReversiMahjongKOF Kentei - Mezase Cult Quiz Ou!Moeyo! KOF DaiundokaiKOF x Garou DensetsuBattle Festa-i/AndroidEncounterThe Rhythm of Fighters'98 Ultimate Match OnlineBeast Busters featuring KOFWorldDestinyAll StarOrochi GoM: Fighting Stars AssemblyKOF: Chroniclefor Girls
Pachinko The King of FightersChapter of NESTSMaximum ImpactIIICR The King of Fighters
Compilations The King of Fighters Orochi CollectionNESTS Collection
Cancelled Online (UnoTechnology)Fighters' WorldKOF MI "A"2KOF: Maximum Impact 360Online (DragonFly/Triple A Games)
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