|The King of Fighters XII||Gallery||Stories||Credits|
The King of Fighters XII (ザ・キング・オブ・ファイターズ
Much like with The King of Fighters '98 and The King of Fighters 2002, this game is more of a "Dream Match" title, and does not have a story, although there are character backstories 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 has announced that it is abandoning the Atomiswave system and is moving its 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.
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.
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.
This game is the first of the series which some characters earns new voice actors. They are: Robert, 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 the Maximum Impact series and KOF Sky Stage).
The only new character added to the series roster is:
Characters who were in the initial Arcade release and home consoles.
Console Exclusive Characters
Characters who are exclusive to the home consoles.
To promote the game, SNK announced a cellphone series called KOFXII Tokusetsu Corner for 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.
- Note: With exception of Russia Stage, all stages also can be seen in The King of Fighters XIII, with some changes.
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, 1UP.com and GameSpy.
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 Teamxbox.com 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. It is generally considered by fans 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 (KOF '94, the first game in the series, had 25 (plus Rugal, the final boss). The character selection also lacks many of the series mainstays, such as K', Maxima, King and Yuri Sakazaki. The absence of mainstay character Mai Shiranui was particularly controversial among fans, leading to the catchphrase "No Mai, No Buy". These characters would be brought back in The King of Fighters XIII. Another point of criticism is that the game is 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.
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.
- This is the only The King of Fighters mainline game to not have Mid-Boss, Sub-Boss and Final Boss, and the only without team formations, beside the 3-on-3 game system.
- This is the very first game in the series to have the announcer not simply say "winner" after an opponent has been KO'd. Instead, it has been reverted to the more traditional "You Win" and "You Lose" messages from Capcom's Street Fighter series. This message has also been used in the previous game.
- For 2-player matches, the game would say "P-1 Win" and "P-2 Win", depending on which player wins the round. In The King of Fighters XIV, these two messages would be replaced by "Player 1 Wins" and "Player 2 Wins", respectively.
- KOF XII also hosts a ton of unused content:
- An early promotional poster for the arcade version shows Elisabeth, a character that wasn't present in the arcade release and is only playable in the console versions. The same poster also shows Leona in her original outfit from KOF '96, even though she received a new design in the final game.
- Artworks of Mai Shiranui and K' can be found in the official site, implying that they were planned to appear in KOF XII.
- Unused content on the game disc files suggests that Vice, Hwa Jai, Takuma Sakazaki, Mai Shiranui, King, Yuri Sakazaki, Billy Kane, K', Oswald, Classic Iori, and an unknown Boss character were all planned to be playable, but were cut out for unknown reasons. There were also plans of three new characters, although it is not known if they were planned to be playable or NPCs.
- There were also plans to have Teams in the final game, with most of the team lineup would be similar to the lineup of KOF XIII. This can be seen with many promotional artwork posters for KOF XII, which features many characters who do not show up in KOF XII.
- KOF XII was also at one point in development to act as the conclusion to the Tales of Ash saga, with KOF XIII acting as the "Dream Match" game.
- The Brazil Stage from KOF XIII was planned to appear in KOF XII, but was scrapped.
- Official Site, Official Site for Home Consoles, Official Sprite Site
- Official English Site from SNK Playmore
- Official English Site
- KOF XII Blog
- Footage of the AOU Booth Area
- Interview with Fighters Front Line
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