|The King of Fighters 2003||Team Stories||Gallery||Credits|
"The King of Fighters 2003 begins. As usual, matches are 3-on-3... But this time, you can look forward to some new rules. We welcome all oncomers!"
Now, the portal to a new punchfest opens.
The King of Fighters 2003 (ザ・キング・オブ・ファイターズ
- 1 Story
- 2 Development
- 3 Gameplay
- 4 Characters
- 4.1 Official Team Roster
- 4.1.1 "Hero Team" (A.K.A. Ash Team or "Protagonist Team")
- 4.1.2 Fatal Fury Team (A.K.A. Garou Desentsu Team)
- 4.1.3 Art of Fighting Team (A.K.A. Kyokugenryu Team)
- 4.1.4 Ikari Warriors Team (A.K.A. Ikari Team)
- 4.1.5 Women Fighters Team
- 4.1.6 Korea Justice Team (A.K.A. Kim Team)
- 4.1.7 Outlaw Team
- 4.1.8 Japan Team (A.K.A. New Benimaru Team)
- 4.1.9 High School Girls Team
- 4.1.10 K' Team
- 4.1 Official Team Roster
- 5 Single Entries
- 6 Mid-Boss
- 7 Sub-Bosses
- 8 Bosses
- 9 Special Edit Teams
- 10 NPC Characters
- 11 Original Cameo Characters (only in PS2)
- 12 Stages
- 13 Critical Reception
- 14 Trivia
- 15 External links
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.
The game was first revealed in Tokyo Game Show 2003, originally planned to be developed on the Atomiswave hardware before settling on the Neo-Geo MVS hardware. In North America the game was released alongside The King of Fighters 2002 for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox. The game was solely released for Switch on February 21, 2019. The title was developed by . As the first chapter of a new story arc, Ash was designed as an "attractive evil character", in contrast to previous King of Fighters heroes. Due to Ash's late appearance in The King of Fighters 2003, the staff joked that teammate Shen Woo seemed more like the series' main character than Ash did. The two boss characters, Adelheid and Mukai, had no problems during their designs with the former being the last added to expand the narrative of the series. While Kusanagi was first introduced in The King of Fighters 2002 without a plot focused around him, KOF 2003 gave him the idea of being a clone of Kyo Kusanagi created by Chizuru Kagura while also intending to include his school uniform highly popular within Kyo's fans.
The series inspired a manhua with the same name. In China the series was divided into two halves: The King of Fighters 2003 composed of five issues, and The King of Fighters 03: Xenon Zero (拳皇 XENON ZERO) composed of eight issues. The two series were combined for the North American release under the name of The King of Fighters 2003. In July 2004, ComicsOne licensed the series with its first volume tying the release of a new video game and kept publishing it after their transition to DrMaster.
King of Fighters 2003 returns again with its 3 vs. 3 team battles. For the first time ever in the series, matches are taken place in a single 3-on-3 round, unlike the 3-5 round matches of previous installments. This due to the new Tag Shift mechanic, where fighters can switch out with other members during a match, similar to the Marvel vs. Capcom series. By pressing either BC or CD, players can switch place with any standby team members, with BC switching out with the second member and CD switching out with the third member. Because of this, CD Attacks do not appear in this game.
It should also be noted that KOF 2003 also feature the traditional 3-on-3 team matches as well as singles fights in the console ports.
Another mechanic is the Leader System, where one member of your team becomes a "Leader". The leader will always be the first character you choose when picking your team, and during the match, the leader will be highlighted by a blue life bar, unlike the members, whose life bars are orange. The leader gains access to a 2 stock super, known as Leader Desperation Move.
The new characters added to the roster (between original and of other franchises) are:
- Note 1: With the end of Striker System, the return of the formation of trios and the implementation of the Tag Battle system, the new team formations are the following:
- Tizoc takes over Andy Bogard's place in the Fatal Fury Team. Terry's brother was training his new student, Hokutomaru;
- Takuma Sakazaki leaves the tournament again, after 2 years, and the Art of Fighting Team takes the formation of the '96 tournament;
- Heidern also leaves the Ikari Warriors Team, passing the leadership back to his adoptive daughter Leona;
- Blue Mary joins with King and Mai Shiranui, of the Women Fighters Team, to investigate the movements of the Those from the Past;
- Jhun Hoon replaces Choi Bounge in the Korea Justice Team, after being left out of the last tournament for breaking his arm;
- The criminals Ryuji Yamazaki and Billy Kane reunite again after four tournaments off, at the new request of Geese Howard, and form the new Outlaw Team, together with Gato, who fills Mary's entry for this team;
- Benimaru Nikaido, Goro Daimon and Shingo Yabuki form the new Japan Team, after Kyo Kusanagi's left of the team. Benimaru replaces Kyo as the team's leader;
- Athena Asamiya leaves the Psycho Soldier Team for a while, and forms the new High School Girls Team, with the sumo student Hinako Shijou and the secret agent Malin;
- Kyo Kusanagi, Iori Yagami and Chizuru Kagura, the Three Sacred Treasures Team, appears alone in this tournament, and Chizuru is, again, the host of KOF. However, they are still a team based on their character select background colors.
- Note 2: The K' Team remain with the same formation as the previous game, becoming canonical in this game.
- Note 3: About both Sub-Bosses and Final Bosses, there are some considerations:
- The Sub-Bosses are exclusive to the True Ending, and fights together as a team.
- The Final Bosses are NPCs in Arcade mode as Maki Kagura, and Hidden unlockable in Home Consoles.
- Note 4: Some parenthetical citations are sometimes Japanese team names, sometimes shortened team names.
Official Team Roster
Tizoc (The Griffon)
Kusanagi (Hidden in Arcade version)
Chizuru Kagura (Hidden in Arcade version)
Maki Kagura (NPC in Arcade version)
Adelheid Bernstein (Alternative Ending Boss)
Mukai (True Ending Boss)
Special Edit Teams
Original Cameo Characters (only in PS2)
- Note 1: 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.
- Note 2: In this game, the stages are randomly chosen by the game's system.
Mid-Boss & Boss Stages
The game got a 7.1 score by Famitsu. DefunctGames gave it a B+ praising the new gameplay style gave the series a major change. New character Tizoc was noted by Kotaku for appealing South American fans based on him being wrestler. Eurogamer was negative believing, previous SNK fighting game like The King of Fighters 2002 offered a better cast and that the new gameplay system would confuse newcomers.
Nevertheless, the reviewer commented that the new Garou: Mark of the Wolves fighters introduced in 2003 would also appeal to players similar to Kotaku. HardcoreGaming101 believed the new gameplay features, cast and artwork were interesting but the sequel, The King of Fighters XI, easily fixed most of its issues.
- This game, The King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match and The King of Fighters XV are the only games in the series where appears one or more variations of the Women Fighters Team.
- This game, along with The King of Fighters '98 (and his updated version), The King of Fighters XI, The King of Fighters XII, The King of Fighters XIII and The King of Fighters XV, are the only games of the series in which the character BGM plays after the round announce.
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