The King of Fighters Neowave is a fighting game by SNK Playmore, released in 2004 for the Sammy Atomiswave arcade platform. It is the eleventh arcade game in SNK Playmore's The King of Fighters series and first fighting game by SNK Playmore to be developed on Atomiswave hardware rather than the Neo Geo console that their previous games appeared on. It's also a Dream Match, like The King of Fighters '98 and The King of Fighters 2002. It was developed specifically to test the hardware and is not counted in the new numeral progression followed by The King of Fighters XI (with 2003 being the tenth game in the series).
Ports of the game were released in Japan and the PAL region for the PlayStation 2 (due to Sony Computer Entertainment America's policy of not allowing straight ports of 2D games to North America) and in Japan, North America, and the PAL region for the Xbox.
The game reverts back to the 3-character elimination system from KOF '94 to KOF '98, ignoring gameplay features from later games such as the "Striker" system used from KOF '99 through KOF 2001 and tag team system in KOF 2003.
The game's sprites, move sets and some of its mechanics are mainly recycled from KOF 2002. The home version of the game uses fully 3D backgrounds similar to Capcom vs. SNK 2 (a feature later reused for the home version of KOF '98: Ultimate Match).
Changes in the systems include the addition of the Heat Mode button (which powers up your damage output at the cost of draining health), and can be activated at any time, though one must wait a while to hit the button again to end it, but it can also end after a certain amount of time has passed as well as getting hit. Heat Mode cannot be used if the character is low on health in the red zone.
All characters have been slightly rebalanced as well, and the CPU's now can occasionally use Free Cancels, Super Cancels and HSDM's/MAX2DM's, as well as making use of most of the other system mechanics, unlike in 2002.
Though the more notable changes mainly involve three new gauge systems that have not appeared in other KOF games:
- First is Super Cancel Mode (SC Mode), which functions like Advanced Mode and the gauge system from 2002 by default, is a mode where the gauge is colored red and where 3 power stocks max are possible. The Free Cancel during 2002's MAX Activation can be performed in this mode via one power stock (as with normal DM's as well), while SDM's are done with two power stocks, and a Super Cancel costs an extra stock (meaning 2 stocks for a DM SC and 3 for an SDM SC). The other main difference is that HSDM's/MAX2DM's cannot be performed in this mode. The Maximum Impact series re-uses the Super Cancel and stock limit concepts of this mode.
- Second is Guard Break Mode (GB Mode), where the gauge is colored pink and can go up to two stocks max, and like SC Mode, 2 stocks are needed for SDM's. However, characters cannot perform a Guard Cancel Blowback attack in this mode. This mode in this game also is schemed in the same fashion as Garou: Mark of the Wolves, in that 2 stocks max are the limit, and most of all, the Just Defend from MOTW is also possible as well, only you cannot Just Defend in midair, nor can you regain health from one either (a portion of stock meter is gained instead for a successful Just Defend). The primary feature of this mode via its name is the Guard Break attack (done with 236CD), where at the cost of one power stock, characters will perform a delayed and startup-only invincible (to all non-throws only) version of their standing Blowback Attack while glowing yellow. This inflicts a Counter Wire on hit and instantly breaks guards.
- Third and last is the MAX2 Mode (M2 Mode), where the gauge is colored blue and is an altered version of Extra Mode, where only one stock is possible. The most notable differences are that the gauge fills automatically on its own, and no MAX Mode occurs when it is full. Like in Extra Mode, characters can use DM's all they want while their health bar is red, and can only use SDM's while both their gauge is full and their health is low. This is also the mode where you can use the HSDM/MAX2DM attacks featured in KOF 2002 (done like before while with red health) hence the name of the mode, as well as characters using this mode having their damage output increased (and even more with Heat Mode activated, though DM's and SDM's do the same amount of damage as with the two other modes). However, this mode often comes with a cost where all evasion type moves (rolls and cancelling into rolls alike) are disabled, save for the recovery roll.
- Unlike in 2002, both fighters start with their gauges maxed out at the start of a match on the first round.
Like KOF '98 and KOF 2002, Neowave has no storyline and is considered a "dream match" game. The game is a gathering of numerous characters from previous installments, including dead characters like Mature and Vice from KOF '96 and the New Face Team (Orochi Team) from KOF '97. The character roster is similar to 2002 if not the very same with only a few minor differences (especially between the arcade, Xbox and PS2 versions), including the addition of the young Geese Howard from Art of Fighting 2 as the new final boss. The character artwork was done by Tomokazu Nakano (of Power Instinct fame). The game also features a completely new soundtrack.
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
In All Consoles
Only in PS2
- Geese Howard (Young Version)
Note: Only in console normal mode, the stages have variations of time and space from the 2nd round.
- Bridge: The Manhattan Bridge, in New York. The fight takes in a platform next to the cars. In the arcade version, it's day; in the console version, from the 2nd round, it's night and a light post can be seen while also shifting the fighting plane at an angle along the bridge.
- Train Hangar: The tracks of a train. Can be seen viaducts, a train and a screen with SNK Playmore, Atomiswave and Sammy's logos. In the console version, from the 2rd round, the fight takes near a viaduct, where a train can be seen approaching and stopping next to the characters right from the background.
- Harbor: A harbor. Port ships and constructions can be seen. In the console version, the fight from the 2nd round takes place next to a freighter.
- Clock Tower: The interior of a clock tower. Gears can be seen with beams of light shooting through the various openings and two open doors. In arcade mode, it's day; in the console version, from the 2nd round, it's night.
- Green House: Features trees, flowers, a water fountain, butterflies, a balcony house, light projectors and a zepellin. In the arcade mode, it's day; in the console version, from the 2nd round, it's night, along with the trees having colorful lights placed within them and other various backlights being shined.
- Ancient Ring: A courtyard in the Angkor Wat, in Cambodia. Features ancient buildings, statues, the gate of the courtyard, a full moon and water fountains with torches in the view of the night sky. In the console version, from the 2rd round, the fight takes place closer to the gate from an angle.
- Plant: A platform of steel. Pipes, chains and a ladder can be seen. In console version, steam blasts can be seen coming off the platform. Similar to the Factory Stage of KOF 2000.
- Boss Stage: A new version of the Howard Connection, inspired in the Boss Stage in AOF 2. Features a table office, a piano, two armors, a globe, two lights and, in the background past the windows, various buildings. In the console version, from the 2nd round, the floor opens up via a mechanism, replaced with an aquarium with a shark right below. Associated with Young Geese.
- In this game, Young Geese reuses assets of his SVC Chaos version, via having his voice clips from that game sped-up or altered at a higher pitch (just to sound "younger"), as well as reusing the graphics for his Reppuuken (with the C version projectile being akin to his Double version despite it not being in his moveset) and Raging Storm (the claw version). In the case of his aforementioned Reppuuken and Raging Storm graphics however, they originally came from Nightmare Geese.
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