The King of Fighters 2002: Challenge to Ultimate Battle is the ninth game in the King of Fighters series, and is the second and last King of Fighters game produced by Eolith. Much like The King of Fighters '98, this game is more of a "dream match" for characters from all previous King of Fighters games, including killed-off characters. The series's canon storyline would resume in The King of Fighters 2003 - adapting, however, a character introduced in this game, Kusanagi.
It was later released for the Dreamcast, this time adding two characters absent from the original version, King and Shingo Yabuki. The PlayStation 2 version included Orochi Iori, Goenitz and Geese Howard.
An upgraded version of The King of Fighters 2002 known as The King of Fighters 2002: Unlimited Match was eventually released in Japan on February 26, 2009. It later released on the Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, Steam, Humble, and GOG worldwide.
The game brings back the team play composed by three characters each that was a tradition in previous games. The game has also several important changes in the gameplay, like the "Free Cancel System" or "Max Mode System", the "Quick Emergency Evasion" and "Quick MAX Mode Activation", aside from the countless changes in each character's special moves and their properties.
Max Mode compared to the previous games, while it enables Free Cancels (which use up a set duration of the mode), now halves the damage done at a cost for its duration. Normal DM's now no longer use up an extra gauge stock when performed, and now only instantly end Max Mode. SDM's instead use one extra stock while also ending Max Mode as well.
One of the most notable changes is the inclusion of MAX2 Desperation Moves (also known as Hidden Super Desperation Moves), which are DM's that can be used only with 3 stocks and at a certain threshold of low HP.
Another notable changes are the allocations of both normal DM's and SDM's, as not all normal DM's have SDM versions and some SDM inputs may be completely different attacks depending on the character(s). Nearly all SDM commands end with 2 of the respective buttons for their inputs (A+C or B+D) due to the fact that Normal DM's can be used in Max Mode.
Fatal Fury Team
Art of Fighting Team
Ikari Warriors Team
Psycho Soldier Team
Women Fighters Team
Korea Justice Team
New Faces Team
'97 Special Team
Console Exclusive Characters
- Shingo Yabuki
- Geese Howard (ripped from SvC Chaos)
- Goenitz (ripped from SvC Chaos)
- Orochi Iori (ripped from SvC Chaos)
- In console versions, Goenitz, Geese, Shingo and King's CD/Blowback attacks do not inflict any damage via a programming oversight. Technically however, Geese's CD attack through its SvC Chaos incarnation as a command normal (6C) is still able to do so.
- This is the only Neo Geo KOF game and the only KOF game produced by Eolith to not have an arranged soundtrack.
- The King of Fighters 2002: Unlimited Match, an upgraded version of the game.
- Note: The NESTS Team/Kusanagi and Omega Rugal's stages is many different in the console version.
- Japan: The garden of the Ryoanji Temple, in Kyoto. The fight occurs in a balcony. Can be seen some people cheering, the other side of the temple, trees and shrubs, two geishas, a small lake and two giant fans, one of them with tiger print, a sun umbrella and two flags. The game's name can be spotted on the floor of the temple and on one of the flags.
- Changes: in 1st and 2nd round, it's afternoon; in the 3rd round, sunset; from the 4th round, night of full moon and the stage partially empty.
- Korea: A boat in the front to the 63 Building and the Hangang Railway Bridge, in Seoul. Can be spotted people cheering, a bridge, childs in a binocular, other buildings, flags, seagulls flying over the stage and tires.
- Changes: in 1st and 2nd round, it's afternoon; in the 3rd round, sunset; from the 4th round, night.
- China: A ring near the Nanhu Garden and the Quanfu Temple, in the city of Kunshan. Can be seen people cheering and holding plaques with Chin's name, a bridge, a sign with the Athena's name and balciones in the background, a gate next to the courtyard and a big vase in the left, besides the famous logo in the doors.
- Changes: in the 1st round, the gate is closed; in the 2nd round, the gate opens; in the 3rd, it's sunset; from the 4th round, night.
- Holland: The village of Zaanse Schans, in the city of Zaandam. In the two first rounds, can be seen windmills, one with the franchise's name, a hot air balloon with the game's name, a man coughing, people cheering and photographing, a fence, giant clogs, sheep with the initials of the game and barns. Also can be seen giant clogs.
- Note: From the 3rd round, it's sunset and the stage is partially empty. The only changes among the 3rd and 4th round is the animals: can be seen dogs and sheep in one, and crows in the other.
- Cambodia: The fight takes next to the Angkor Wat Temple. Can be seen a tree, shrubs, stones and a electric post. The weather in the stage is cloudy and lightings can be seen in the sky.
- Mexico: The Mesoamerican city of Teotihuacan. The fight takes in a ancient building. Can be seen people cheering, a screen with Heidern, plaques with the game's name with the inscription MEXICO-TV by IO-NET, an antenna, the Mexican flag, a river and the Quetzalcoatl Temple, in the background.
- Changes: in two first rounds, it's day; in the 3rd round, it's sunset, the stage is empty and the screen it's off; from the 4th round, it's night and a torch is on.
- Italy: An aerial plataform next to the Cathedral and the Tower of Pisa. Can be seen Mr. Big and Krauser, two screens, one showing Heidern, a cameraman and the Italian flag, in the left and in the right. This stage is the last of Team/Single Play mode.
- Changes: from the 2nd round, the plataform rise, and appears a blue flag with game's short name in the tower; from the 4th round, one more rise until the top of the tower, where can be spotted the two villains and a sign FINAL: THE KING OF FIGHTERS.
- NESTS — NESTS Team & Kusanagi: In the arcade version, the Italy stage in a dark and empty version. In the console version, the fight takes in a military airplane, next to a helicopter. Can be seen obstacles, a miltary jeep and a war tank. There's a little turbulence and things start to fall.
- Unknown: In the arcade version, a heap of debris, possibly military aircraft. Can be seen a control panel screen in the background. In the console version, is a version of Sky Noah stage. Can be seen control panels, screens and ladders. Associated with Omega Rugal.
- KoF2002 Official Website (in Japanese)
- GOG Store page
- Data in The King of Fighters Anniversary Website
- 2002 Official SNK Hong Kong combo video - part 1
- 2002 Official SNK Hong Kong combo video - part 2
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