The King of Fighters 2003 is the tenth game in The King of Fighters series. It's the last game of the series to be based on the Neo-Geo MVS hardware, and the first game in the series developed and published by SNK Playmore under their current moniker. This game also is the first chapter of "Tales of Ash" story arc.
As indicated by the game's name, it takes place two years after the last canon King of Fighters game, The King of Fighters 2001. According to the game's storyline, a new King of Fighters tournament is organized by an unknown host. The several new rules are instituted, including a whole new team system, based in Tag Team, which allows you to change character at the time of the fight. Only in console mode, there is a fighting option without this mode.
At the end of the tournament, depending on how players defeat the midgame boss, Kusanagi, the players will either face Adelheid Bernstein or learn that the tournament organizer is Chizuru Kagura and that a group known as "His Distant Land" is working in a secretive plot. After defeating the mysterious stone fighter known as Mukai, Ash Crimson appears before Chizuru, attacks her in her weakened state and steals her powers. Kyo Kusanagi and Iori Yagami come to Chizuru's aid as Ash tells Iori that he's his next target.
Fatal Fury Team
Art of Fighting Team
Ikari Warriors Team
Women Fighters Team
Korea Justice Team
High School Girls Team
- Kusanagi (unlockable)
Special Edit Teams
Sacred Treasures Team
- Kyo Kusanagi
- Iori Yagami
- Chizuru Kagura
Original Japan Team
- Kyo Kusanagi
- Benimaru Nikaido
- Goro Daimon
'94 Women Fighters Team
- Mai Shiranui
- Yuri Sakazaki
- Note: In the console versions, depending on the chosen fighting mode (Normal or Arcade), the stages may vary. In normal mode, all stages vary in time and space.
- Japan: The temple complex of Tōdai-ji, in the city of Nara. In arcade mode, the fight takes next to the Ango and Ungyo statues of the complex, in the Namdaimon Gate. Can be seen the temple, in the background, eastern gods and laterns in the gate, people cheering, sakuras trees and a fountain. In console normal mode, the fight occurs next to the South Central Gate.
- Changes: In the 1st variation, the fight takes next to a tree. Can be seen people cheering, a bridge, a big lantern in the gate of the temple and traditional buildings. In the 2nd variation, it's sunset and the fight occurs next to the other buildings; in the 3rd variation, the fight takes place near the gate, it's already night and the stage is empty.
- Czech Republic: In arcade mode, the Orloj, in Prague. In the first variation, can be seen people and other buildings. In the second variation, the stage is empty and it's already night. In console normal mode, the fight takes in a truck that runs through the streets of Prague. Can be seen houses, buildings buildings, a square and veichles, besides people holding plaques with game's name. The truck also passes in a tunnel.
- Changes: in the 1st variation, it's day; in the 2nd variation, sunset; in the 3rd variation, night.
- China: In arcade mode, the roof of a building. Can be seen a buildings with NEO GEO and SNK Playmore's logo. There are two variations of color in this stage: in first rounds, blue; in final rounds, green. In console versions, it's the same roof, with variations.
- Changes: In 1st variation has a neon logo, an old man and cats; 2nd variation has the game's logo and a helicopter; while the 3rd variation has children and a woman, and the light of various helicopters.
- Korea: In arcade mode, a seaside. Can be seen people cheering, a boat with tires, fishermen and a zeppelin. The only change is that the stage turns green. In normal console mode, the fight takes in a beach.
- Changes: In the 1st variation, can be seen some people, a cabin, other zeppelin, boats and a moutain. In the 2nd variation, the fight takes near the sea, in a new angle. In the 3rd variation, the fight occurs in a pier, under the sunset. Can be seen boats, people, a new moutain and the same zeppelin of arcade version.
- Mexico: The Mayan city of Chichen Itza, in Yucatán. In arcade mode, the fight takes near the Kukulcan Temple. Can be seen ruins, crows, trees and a light fog. The only change is that the stage turns green. In normal console mode, the fight takes in various points of the Mayan city.
- Changes: In 1st variation, next to the Temple of the Warriors, with some people dressed in typical clothes, stones and mariachi singers; in the 2nd variation, in the Columns in the Temple of a Thousand Warriors, with tribal dancers, under the sunset and with the Kukulcan Temple in the background; in the 3rd variation, it's night and can be seen all the monuments previously mentioned.
- New Zealand: In arcade mode, the Glenbrook Railway. The fight takes next to the train and the tracks. Can be seen plaques, people, baloons, a cow and a house. In the console normal mode, the fight occurs in a train station. Can be seen people cherring in the station and, in the background, the city of Auckland, besides a balloon and outdoors next to the railroad.
- Changes: In the 1st variation of the normal console mode, it's daytime and the line goes to the left. In the 2nd variation, the SNK Playmore and the game's logo can be seen in a truck, in the station and outdoors, and it takes place during the sunset while the rail line goes to the right.
- Egypt — Kusanagi: The city of Giza. In arcade mode, the fight takes next to the ruins of the city and, in the background, the Great Sphinx and the Pyramids. Can be seen people and a camel. In the console normal mode, the fight takes in a boat that passes by the River Nile. Can be seen famous monuments of the city, besides people in the background.
- Changes: In the 1st variation of the console normal mode, the fight takes place during daytime. In the 2nd variation, the sun is setting. In the 3rd variation, it's already night.
- Sky Noah — Adelheid: An airship floating high above ground, featuring the Bernstein family lounging and doing their business. Multiple terminals and high-tech consoles are strewn across the stage. Can be seen Rose playing piano and, on her feet, the black panther of her father, Rugal. In the console normal mode, the structures release vapors.
- Note: This stage also can be seen in KOF XIII, with some changes.
- Cave — Chizuru & Maki: A cave. Can be seen mirrors and a lava river, in the background.
- Boss Stage: Another cave. Can be seen a snake statue with a green glowing eye, sparks and chains. In the console normal mode, the snake moves. Associated with Mukai.
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