SNK Wiki
Position in the series
Saga/Story Arc
Is it canonical?
Tales of Ash
Dream Match



The King of Fighters XII (ザ・キング・オブ・ファイターズ XIIトゥエルブ) is the twelfth installment in The King of Fighters series.

Much like with The King of Fighters '98 and The King of Fighters 2002 (and its remakes), this game is more of a "Dream Match" title, and does not have a story, although there are character backstories that are unique for this title. The series' canon storyline would resume would continue in the next installment, The King of Fighters XIII, which also would serve as the conclusion of the Tales of Ash Saga.

The main illustrations were done by Eisuke Ogura.


The game underwent a complete graphical overhaul, confirmed by Nona, artist in charge of the art in the The King of Fighters XI endings. All the sprites used in previous games for over 10 years were to be dropped and replaced with new high definition sprites. The programmers have stated their intention was to create the "ultimate 2D fighting game". Nona reaffirmed this once again in The King of Fighters Year End Party 2006 in Tokyo.

SNK Overseas Manager Yoshihito Koyama revealed that the game was going to be "3D mixed with 2D"; this led to speculation that the game could use cel-shading to give the game a 2D look, but it was later revealed at AOU 2008 that KOF XII would use newly-drawn 2D sprites on detailed 2D backgrounds. Producer Masaaki Kukino informed Kotaku that the game is one hundred percent hand drawn, there being zero cell shading in the game. He has also stated that the main goal of the game is to give a new "rebirth" to the series. They have no intention of changing the main series into 3D in the future. The staff decided to create the new graphics during 2005 and 2006, and commented that they spent triple the amount of time developing it than the previous game.

In an interview with Fighters Front Line, Kukino replies that each character took 16~17 months to complete with a team of 10 different designers. Additionally, the sprites were personally checked by Nona for quality. Due to the time demands of drawing such detailed frames of animation, as well as the decision not to incorporate older assets as previous games in the series have, there are only 20 playable characters, the lowest number ever in a game from this series. An interview with Kukino revealed that there would be console exclusive characters.

On February 14, 2008, the first gameplay footage was revealed to the world showcasing the new, much larger, higher-resolution pixel art sprites at the Arcade Operators Union Amusement Expo (AOU) 2008. The footage also revealed the presences of Benimaru Nikaido, Terry Bogard (reverting to his original Fatal Fury outfit), Athena Asamiya and Kim Kaphwan in KOF XII. A location test was scheduled in Japan for April 18–20, 2008, but was canceled for unknown reasons. Kukino later stated in an interview this was done because the staff felt they should show a more polished product than the beta they had at the time. There was also a recruiting ad for part-time positions on SNK's Japanese website, asking particularly for a game graphic designer with experience in animation and color design.

In March 2008, SNK Playmore announced that they were leaving the Atomiswave System and is moving their most popular game franchises to the Taito Type X2 Arcade System. In addition to KOF XII, KOF Maximum Impact: Regulation A and a new Samurai Shodown game in 3D were released on the new Arcade system.

A playable demo was available to the public at the 46th AOU on September 18, 2008 and the 2008 Tokyo Game Show on October 9, 2008. The January location test featured a new visual layout unlike those seen in the past. Macha Yusa stated that the last location test would take place on February 27~March 4 this year. However, news of another location test popped up for March 6~8.

Game Mechanics

KOF XII uses the traditional 3-on-3 team system with each fight consisting of 5 rounds. The Multi-Shift System from The King of Fighters 2003 had been removed. Since there is no story for this installment, there are no default teams or team endings in the roster, so players are free to make whatever teams they desire.

Gameplay of Andy vs. Mature

The game returned to its standard four button layout. Players can still dash, backstep, and perform rolls as their evade. Recovery rolls can be done with any button and throws are now performed by holding a direction and tapping A+C when close. The C+D attacks are still present but the Guard Breaks from previous games (pressing C+D while blocking with a block of super energy) can now be done at any time. Super special moves are now executed in real-time and in a similar manner as The King of Fighters '94 with a single-level Super Gauge.

The newest addition to the game system are "Critical Counters". When the Critical Counter gauge located beneath a character's lifebar is full, the player can time their attack to clash with their opponent's blow and leave them open for a devastating attack. After a successful counter, the player with the advantage can dash, combo, and even perform a special finisher attack with their character's desperation move. The time frame for this effect lasts as long as the green colored ripple from the clash is on screen; once it dissipates, the damage boost from the Critical Counter ends. Counters can be done on the ground or while airborne. The clashes of Critical Counters only occur when strong attacks (or certain moves performed with strong attacks) connect simultaneously.

Other additions include a new "Guard Attack" feature which allows a fighter to intercept and hit an incoming opponent's strike damage-free (even Desperation Moves can be repelled in this fashion). Finally, there is also a "clash" system in place (called the Sousai or "Deadlock") whereupon every time characters land blows on one another with matched timing, the engine will generate a 'break' effect and push the characters away from one another into a neutral standing.

Each stage has two types of themes played for it. Depending on the stage, the themes can work with the depicted stage ambiance or play a standard musical riff. The music staff from the previous title were in charge of overseeing the production but were not the ones conducting the music. As a side note, the music played during the trailer is included as a track in the game.


Unlike prior games, this is the first King of Fighters installment where there are no official Teams, although Teams can still be formed.

This game is the first of the series which some characters earns new voice actors. They are: Ralf, Chin, Kim and Raiden. Ryo also earns a new Japanese voice actor, but returns to his original voice actor in The King of Fighters XIII. This game is also the only mainline entry of the series with English voices (the others are all the games of the Maximum Impact series and KOF Sky Stage).

The only new character added to the series roster (and from the other series) is:

Raiden kofXII.jpg
Raiden, from the Fatal Fury series, appears as a brand new character. He is a pro wrestler and a former criminal employee of Geese Howard.

Official Roster

Characters who were in the initial Arcade release and home consoles.

Ash Crimson
Duo Lon
Shen Woo
Kyo Kusanagi
Benimaru Nikaido

Goro Daimon

Terry Bogard
Andy stand.gif
Andy Bogard
Joe Higashi
Ryo Sakazaki
Robert Garcia
Leona Heidern
Ralf Jones
Clark Still
Athena Asamiya
Sie Kensou
Chin Gentsai
Iori Yagami
Kim Kaphwan

Console Exclusive Characters

Characters who are exclusive to the home consoles.

Elisabeth Blanctorche

Related Media

To promote the game, SNK announced a cellphone series called KOFXII Tokusetsu Cornerfor the Yahoo and imode Japanese networks on August 1, 2008. Each volume features an original story and bio information for three characters that will be in the game's lineup (revealed to be Ash, Kyo, and Terry). The style that these are presented in is similar to the in-game profiles of KOF: Maximum Impact 2. These novelizations were later added to the character profiles on the official website.

On April 23, the series also had a collaboration event with the Japanese artsite, pixiv. For people who have a pivix account, the entries can be seen here.


Note: With exception of Russia Stage, all stages also can be seen in The King of Fighters XIII, with some changes.
Stage Name
Zhouzhaung, China
A pier next to a river, in the city of Zhouzhuang. Can be seen people cheering in boats, animals, Chinese lanterns, houses and some sales items. The sky is partially cloudy.
Giza, Egypt
A big cult in the city of Giza. Can be seen statue vipers, the worshipers, fire pyres, bands and, in the background, the famous monuments of the city, besides the famous logo of the game.
Menton, France
A street next to the Mediterranean Sea, in the city of Menton, at a sunny day. Can be seen people cherring, sitting in tables, sun umbrellas, typical buildings, a veichle and orca whales jumping.
Red Square, Moscow, Russia
An ice ring next to the Red Square, in Moscow, in a winter night. Can be seen Christmas trees and lights, people cheering, some holding the Russian flag with the logo of the game, a giant full moon and the Kremlin, in the background. Also can be spotted an ice statue and the game's name under the Russian flag.
A big stadium in two versions. In the first, it's day and can be seen spotlights, a crowd, various flags, an amusement park and a screen showing the fight, in the background. Also can be spotted the game's name and logo in a zeppelin, in the ground and under the screen. In the other, it's night, the stage is partially empty and can be seen fireworks.

Critical Reception


Prior to its release, various video games publications have commented on KOF XII.

Ryan Clements from IGN celebrated the new graphics as among the best that a 2D game could have. Although he noted the gameplay to be very similar to previous KOF games, he found satisfying the new game mechanics that allow players to counterattack opponents' combos. 1UP writer Richard Li found the gameplay to be a mix between Garou: Mark of the Wolves, Street Fighter III and The King of Fighters '94. Like Clements, Li found the gameplay similar to previous titles from the series, but noted that SNK added new revisions which make the game to be "a new experience." McKinley Noble from GamePro also liked the game's graphics, but most notably the background scenery of a European villa, which he noted to be a good example of the new design. Although he lamented the removal of various mechanics featured in previous games such as the Tactical Shift System, Noble liked the addition of the new critical counter systems as "split-second timing is a critical key for pulling out a decisive victory." Andy Eddy from found the new art style to be a bit weird due to the interpretations from various cultures as shown in the backgrounds as well due to the fact they are distracting from the fights. However, he liked the cast of playable character as well as the addition of Elizabeth and Mature to the home versions due their new designs and fighting styles.

Shortly following the release of the game, critical response has mostly been average or mixed. It received a C from 1UP's Richard Li who notes that various parts of the game would induce players to "rage quit" out of their matches. Graphics were commented to be initially good, but later criticized due how different some characters look in this game from previous KOF titles. IGN's Ryan Clements commented that despite graphical overhaul the game was "disappointing". He found the new graphics to be "smoothly animated", but added that the backgrounds are limited. Although Andrew Park from GameSpot praised the redesign from several characters' appearances and gameplay, he still noted that there are better 2D fighting video games due to how several features added in KOF XI were removed from KOF XII and the poor quality from the online mode. GamingAge's Jim Cordeira gave it a C+ commenting "It's a reboot/re-birth alright, albeit a seemingly unfinished one." Although he also added that KOF XII "is a good enough start", he remarked that other fighting games such as Street Fighter IV or BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger were more entertaining.

While KOF XII was received with mixed reception by critics, the game was received extremely negatively by KOF fans. KOF fans generally considered KOF XII to be the weakest game of the mainline series. This is primarily due to its very small selection of 22 characters (which is less than The King of Fighters '94, which was the first game in the series and had 25 playable characters). The character selection also lacks many of the series mainstays, such as K', Maxima, King, Yuri Sakazaki and Mai Shiranui. Mai's absence in particular was extremely controversial among fans, leading to the catchphrase "No Mai, No Buy". Another point of criticism is that the game was a Dream Match, meaning that it lacks a storyline but unlike previous dream match games, it did not take advantage of the absence of a storyline by bringing back dead characters.

During the 2009 E3, IGN awarded KOF XII as the best fighting game, noting the new graphics as well as the gameplay. On the other hand, in the Game Critics Awards from the E3 2009, KOF XII lost to Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars in the same category. It also won three Best Fighting Game of E3 2009 awards from GameSpot, and GameSpy.

In the website GameRankings, the PS3 version of KOF XII received a percent of 60.82% based on eleven reviews. The Xbox 360 version was given a percent of 66.13% based on fifteen reviews. Metacritic gave the PS3 game an average of 58 based on ten critics while the Xbox 360 received an average of 63 based on seventeen reviews.

Reception Table

Aggregation scores

  • 58 (PlayStation 3)
  • 63 (Xbox 360)
  • 62.64% (PlayStation 3; from 25 reviews)
  • 63.46% (Xbox 360; from 34 reviews)

Review scores



External links

The King of Fighters series
Mainline '94'95'96'97'98'992000200120022003XIXIIXIIIXIVXV
Remakes Dream Match 1999'99 Evolution'94 Re-Bout'98 Ultimate Match2002 Unlimited Match
Offshoots R-1R-2EX: 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 Orochi CollectionThe Orochi SagaNESTS Collection
Cancelled Online (UnoTechnology)Fighters' WorldKOF MI "A2"KOF: Maximum Impact 360Online (DragonFly/Triple A Games)
view · edit · talk
The King of Fighters games
Prologue The King of Fighters '94
Orochi Saga The King of Fighters '95The King of Fighters '96The King of Fighters '97
NESTS Chronicles The King of Fighters '99The King of Fighters 2000The King of Fighters 2001
Tales of Ash The King of Fighters 2003The King of Fighters XIThe King of Fighters XIII
Shun'ei Saga The King of Fighters XIVThe King of Fighters XV
Dream Matches The King of Fighters '98The King of Fighters 2002The King of Fighters XII
Remakes The King of Fighters: Dream Match 1999The King of Fighters '99 EvolutionThe King of Fighters '94 Re-BoutThe King of Fighters '98 Ultimate MatchThe King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match
Maximum Impact series KOF: Maximum ImpactKOF: Maximum Impact 2KOF Maximum Impact Regulation "A"
Offshoots King of Fighters R-1King of Fighters R-2The King of Fighters EX: Neo BloodThe King of Fighters EX2: Howling BloodThe King of Fighters Neowave
Spin-offs Quiz King of FightersThe King of Fighters: KyoThe King of Fighters: Battle de ParadiseKOF Sky StageThe King of Fighters Online (DragonFly)The King of Fighters '98: Ultimate Match WebSNK Heroines Tag Team Frenzy
Mobile The King of Fighters -Mobile- / R-2The King of Fighters -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 FightersThe King of Fighters '98 Ultimate Match OnlineBeast Busters featuring KOFThe King of Fighters: WorldThe King of Fighters Destiny (Game)The King of Fighters All StarOrochi GoThe King of Fighters M: Fighting Stars AssemblyKOF: ChronicleThe King of Fighters for Girls
Pachinko The King of FightersChapter of NESTSMaximum ImpactIIICR The King of Fighters
Compilations The King of Fighters Orochi CollectionThe King of Fighters Collection: The Orochi SagaThe King of Fighters NESTS Collection
Cancelled The King of Fighters Online (UnoTechnology)The King of Fighters' WorldKOF Maximum Impact Regulation "A2"KOF: Maximum Impact 360The King of Fighters Online (Cancelled)
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).