The King of Fighters XIV is the fourteenth installment of The King of Fighters series. It was first announced during the SCEJA Press Conference 2015. The game was developed for the PlayStation 4 and released in August 2016, it was later ported to the Microsoft Windows (Steam) and Japanese arcade cabinets (NESiCAxLive) in 2017. This game is the first chapter of the 4th canonical saga for the series. Garou: Mark of the Wolves battle designer, Yasuyuki Oda, is the director.
Oda said in an interview with 4Gamer that the main goal for this title is to make it "the easiest to play" of the series. According to him, the two major reasons for making the transition to 3D is to adapt to high-end machines and give 3D experience to SNK so they can compete in the console market again. He thinks it's difficult to properly convey the KOF cast's charm in 3D but expects the models to continue improving from its initial revealing. Oda hopes to cater to fans of KOF '98, KOF 2002 and KOF XIII with this game's mechanics and improve the online matchmaking for this entry.
A graphical patch (Ver 1.10) to boost the game's visuals is released on January 11, 2017. On April 5, 2017, the 2.00 update is released along with 4 additional DLC characters and 2 free classic stages. On April 12, 2018, the 3.00 update is released along with another 4 additional DLC characters and 1 new stage. Besides, the Ultimate Edition, with alll DLC characters and costumes and 10 new PS4 themes is released in Digital format on January 7, 2021, for Europe, and January 20, 2021, and the Physical format will be launched in Spring of 2021.
After considering the current market and the future, the staff agreed that things would be best if they challenged 3D right now and started building up experience, knowledge and libraries in their company.
- The game engine was internally developed by SNK. They were considering using the Unreal Engine but decided not to because SNK didn't feel confident after overviewing the potential risks and budget at that time. Four years later, SNK finally decided to use Unreal Engine, starting from developing Samurai Shodown (2019), and continuing with The King of Fighters XV;
- They decided against cell-shaded graphics due to wanting to emulate the look of '94. Originally the game used a more realistic style, but it was eventually tweaked so it would not clash with certain characters' designs. The cel-shaded graphic is then utilized in Samurai Shodown (2019) via Unreal Engine three years later;
- Hitboxes are added manually in 2D;
- Ogura has no remorse in leaving behind pixel art since it was a method to bring out the best in low-resolution graphics. Now that times have changed, even if doing 2D he'd rather take a different approach than pixel art;
- Making the game run in full 60 FPS proved to be difficult and as a result, the flashier looking graphics and effects were cut. There was the option of having a variable framerate, but the team decided to keep it consistent partially due to concerns about the quality of the online multiplayer;
- They only had 3-4 designers but Oda decided to have 50 characters in the game. To save production time and budget, he allowed for three characters to obscure their faces so they would not require facial animations.
SNK has a lot of development teams especially in the mobile/smartphone side of things, but they only have two studios. One of them is making the KOF series, and they barely had enough staff to make XIV.
The King of Fighters XIV received generally positive reviews in video game media:
- On Metacritic it holds an average score of 79 out of 100;
- Gaming Age's Chris Dunlap gave it a perfect score, saying it is the best of The King of Fighters games. He recommended it to fans of the fighting game genre because of its appealing features such as the Rush System which makes fights easier for newcomers and the possibilities for rematches against the artificial intelligence.
Many reviewers commented on the fighting system;
- GameSpot praised its appeal to newcomers, while EGM praised the game's core mechanics and the use of the Rush System to appeal to a wider audience.
- Despite the difficulties of mastering characters' moves without the Rush system, Game Informer felt the game's online mode was well executed despite some slowdowns during the game's launch;
- While also enjoying the multiple mechanics, Hobby Consolas considered the online gaming modes among the most fun in the genre;
- Metro liked it for appealing to skilled fighting game fans while still being a good starting point for players unhappy with Street Fighter V;
- GameRevolution said the gameplay remains true to earlier KOF games, most notably The King of Fighters XIII, and was pleased that it retained the challenge needed to execute special moves. IGN praised the large number of modes, characters and unlockable material, GamesRadar and Destructoid appreciated the multiple game mechanics which made the game unique within the franchise.
Reviewers also commented on the narrative and its cast:
- GamesRadar thought the story mode too simple;
- Destructoid felt it not reach the appeal of its predecessor due to its lack of narrative;
- Despite issues with the graphics, Gaming Age found the characters interesting, noting each has a unique fighting style and theme songs that are played when facing rivals.
- Like Gaming Age, PCMRace found the arcade mode fitting for the series due to how rivals interact before their matches and enjoyed the art behind endings unlocked through a main team;
- IGN saw the story as appealing but not noteworthy until the clash between rivals which the reviewer felt were few.
The game's 3D characters received negative comments for their poor designs compared to other games of the same generation:
- Hobby Consolas judged the designs in general to be up to the series' high standards, but described Andy Bogard's model as overly stylized and lacking in grace.
- Destructoid lamented that the 3D models did not do justice to the excellent character designs, which suffered from bland coloring and lack of detail.
- Juan Garcia of IGN's Spanish site praised the redesigns of Robert Garcia and Kyo Kusanagi, which he found visually striking in contrast with the other characters, something which Destructoid agreed favoring the redesign of veteran character Maxima and newcomer Kukri. 'Juan also said the game looks poor despite running at 60 fps, but enjoyed the large number of characters and the detailed backgrounds.
- EGMNOW shared similar comments about the graphics and the surprisingly large number of characters, stating that despite problems with the visuals, there is a large amount of content to entertain players. GameRevolution enjoyed the interactions between the characters when engaging in a rival fight, citing Kyo and Iori Yagami's interactions, but was disappointed there was not as much of it as in previous titles, like Joe Higashi competing with King.
The Steam version of The King of Fighters XIV received mixed reviews:
- GameSpew appreciated that SNK had updated the dated graphics of the PlayStation 4 version, making it more competent in comparison with other fighting-game franchises such as Street Fighter and Tekken;
- Despite giving it a positive review, PCMrace said the port could have benefited from a cross-platform play with PlayStation 4 players and that the cast still needed to be more balanced in terms of move sets.
The King of Fighters has become a major business, generating huge profits and numerous spin-off tournaments worldwide. However, this led to a lowering of the overall quality, and voices began to rise across the globe demanding the formation of one unique, worldwide KOF competition.
A billionaire self-proclaimed “first champion” bought out all the rights for the KOF Tournament. The announcement of a new KOF Tournament created unprecedented enthusiasm around the world. This excitement reached many of the classic participants of the legendary tournament directly in the form of an official invitation...
Unlike previous main entries, which employed hand-drawn sprite animation,The King of Fighters XIV uses 3D models more akin to the KOF: Maximum Impact series. However the fighting area remains on a strictly two-dimensional plane and keeps the same basic mechanics as its predecessors.
New Max mode systems allows players to access the EX special moves; activating this state requires one bar of the power gauge. EX super move can also be executed with just one attack button, instead of two.
Using three bars of the power gauge can allow players to unleash Climax Desperation Moves, the current "Strongest Level DM" in this game that follows somewhat in the prior Neo Max's footsteps. Some characters gain new moves as a Climax DM, while others instead have their prior Neo Max reprised as a Climax DM.
Super Cancels are now based on 2003 along with XI's Dream Cancel, except it is now available to all members and has new traits available, such canceling a normal DM to an EX or Climax DM, or EX DM into a Climax DM.
Repeatedly hit the light punch button to perform an automatic combo attack called Rush mode; this will do lower damage compared to normal combo attacks. However, there some conditions involving Level gauge:
- If the Level gauge is 0, the fourth Rush mode combo goes to a certain special move.
- If one Level gauge is filled, the fourth Rush mode combo goes to a certain Super Art.
- While entering Max Mode, the fourth Rush mode combo goes to an EX version of a certain special/super moves.
CD/Blowback attacks now cause opponents to hit the wall with a unique form of wall-slam, which causes them for a period of time to remain vulnerable to follow-up attacks.
Online multiplayer mode will feature a Party Battle mode which will allow three players to form a single team together to challenge another three player team. Players will be allowed to choose the same character if they wish while forming teams. The lobby is designed to support up to twelve players so spectators can join to watch the match up with an integrated voice and text chat. A "Crowd SE" option is additionally available for spectators will allow them to root, applaud, and boo their favored competing teams. Players will be allowed to set their online profiles to be private. An online training mode is available as well.
KOF XIV also marks a huge change for the series in that the large majority of the returning cast now sport new voice actors, including those who have been voiced by the same actors since their debut or for several years. The exceptions include Benimaru, Chang, Choi, Geese, Athena, King, Kula, Maxima, King, Whip and Oswald. Characters with recent changes, such as Kim, Nakoruru, Ralf and Mai still retain their new voices.
This game is the only in the series with a large quantity of new characters. The new additions to the roster (between originals and of the other franchises) are:
- Shun'ei, the new protagonist of the series and leader of the China Team, is an boy abandoned by his parents in the streets, when he was rescued by the master Tung Fu Rue, as soon as the elder felt the boy's strange power and the good in him, taking him as his student. He is Meitenkun's best friend;
- Tung Fu Rue, from Fatal Fury series, is other member of the China Team. He enters to the KOF tournament to help his new and last students, Shun'ei and Meitenkun, and was connections with Saisyu Kusanagi (Kyo Kusanagi's father) and Chin Gentsai (Psycho Soldier Team's elder master) about the tournament;
- Meitenkun, the last member of the China Team, is a heavy sleeper who is very carefree and calm. He rarely exerts himself, often preferring to nap instead. He is Shun'ei's best friend and Tung's student;
- Gang-il, Kim Kaphwan's master and Chairman of the World Taekwondo Federation. He is the complete opposite of his student: a man who is a farrier and womanizer. On one of his world trips, he ended up meeting Luong, his actual girlfriend;
- Luong, a mysterious femme fatale woman who likes to "play" with her opponents and feels excited in the heat of battle. Outside of battle, she shows less of her cold side and rather shows affection towards Gang-il and his star student Kim, much to the latter's dismay given that he's already married with children;
- Xanadu, a legendary criminal and leader of the new team known as Villiains, who is currently imprisoned in an underground jail. A superior intellectual, he is considered to be the "King of the Underground" by the other prisoners. He also talks about subjects and concepts that are supposedly very difficult for most people to understand, when in reality it is far more likely that he is extremely delusional and deranged;
- Sylvie Paula Paula, the leader of the new team known as Official Invitation (at Antonov's invitation), is a underground fighter and was once a experiment of NESTS cartel, considered useless by the organization until she she demonstrated her electromagnetic powers;
- Kukri, a mysterious man who hides his face in a hood, is one of the members of Official Invitation Team and member of an underground society. He also is a very rude, foul-mouthed, arrogant and sadistic fighter that also sports a bit of an openly perverted affection for women;
- Mian, the last member of the Official Invitation Team, is a Sichuan opera dancer, and uses traditional masks to fight. She is an extremely shy person, and doesn't drop her mask often, except for rare instances where she displays self-confidence;
- Nelson, the leader of other new team, known as South America, is a boxing prodigy that lost an arm after a terrible accident, but has been able to quickly return to the ring thanks to advanced robotic prosthetics. He fights to seize the world championship while hoping his fiancée will someday awaken from her coma;
- Zarina, one of the members of South America Team, is a cheerful Colombian girl raised in Brazil. She enters to the tournament to to protect the nesting place of her pet toucan companion "Coco", whose species is facing the threat of extinction;
- Bandeiras Hattori, the last member of the South America Team, is the founder of the “Brazilian Ninja Arts” Dojo. He enters to the tournament hoping to attract new students to his dojo, which has none yet;
- King of Dinosaurs, member of the new Mexican Team, is the heel persona (in pro wrestling, a wrestler who acts as a villain or a bad guy) of Tizoc, from Garou: Mark of the Wolves. He adopts this identity to avoid tarnishing the honorable image of his face persona and the desgrace from being defeated;
- Hein, a butler and member of Howard Connection recruited by Geese Howard to participate to KOF tournament, is a mysterious man. Although modest, mild-mannered, and never seeming to break his polite tone, he does have a sadistic side;
- Nakoruru, from Samurai Shodown series, is a girl and a Ainu priestess from Feudal Japan (end of 18th century). She senses a terrible malice coming from a crack in spacetime. To prevent the disaster of its potential release and to find its source, Nakoruru traveled to the modern times (21th century) and enters to the tournament;
- Mui Mui, from Dragon Gal pachinko series, a hearty and hungry girl who is the last successor of the Dragon Clan martial arts and a master of Kung-Fu. She travels on a never-ending quest to find gems with mysterious powers. She was transported by this world by Nakoruru, along with Love Heart;
- Love Heart, from Sky Love pachinko series, is the captain of Peace Air Pirates. She was transported from her world by a dimension disturbance. She is approached by Nakoruru, who requests her help to investigate the phenomenon;
- Alice Nakata, from Garou Densetsu: The Legend of Wild Wolf (a pachinko game), is the new member of the Women Fighters Team, replacing Yuri Sakazaki. She is a huge fan of Terry Bogard, and enters to the tournament to prove her newfound strength to him;
- Antonov, the sub boss of the game, is the host and KOF tournament current rights holder. Proclaiming himself as the "first champion", he eagerly sends out invites across the world, challenging teams to take his title;
- Verse, the final boss of the game, is an entity that was introduced in the storyline when Ash Crimson erased himself and Saiki from spacetime. It's a being created from eternal negative energy and thrives from the darkness of people's wishes. Within its being, it traps numerous fighters' souls from many ages;
- Najd, one of the eight DLC characters released for the game, is a Saudi girl. Dressed in an Abaya, she uses the cover of night and becomes a vigilante to protect her fellow citizens. In contrast to her mysterious appearance, she is a college student during the day.
- Note: Some teams remains with their classic formations. Regarding teams, the list is as follows:
- Yuri Sakazaki returns to Art of Fighting Team to help her brother Ryo, who is now master of the family's dojo, and Robert Garcia, the family's friend. Takuma Sakazaki, Ryo and Yuri's father and Robert's master, retires and takes care of a steakhouse;
- Desiring to bring his rebellious students back to his side, Kim Kaphwan joins, against his will, with his master Gang-il and his girlfriend Luong, forming again the team that bears his name;
- Chang Koehan and Choi Bounge joins with Xanadu, in order to return to their former criminal life, forming the Villains Team, led by the legendary criminal;
- The mercenary Ramon and the former NESTS agent Angel returns to the series, forming, along with Dinosaur, the Mexico Team, led by the freelancer agent;
- The crimelord Geese Howard also returns to the series (in his second canonical participation) and, along with his bodyguard Billy Kane and the newcomer Hein, form the South Town Team. The team is led by the criminal bussinessman;
- In order to stop Verse, Nakoruru, Mui Mui and Love Heart form the Another World Team, led by the Ainu priestess.
Fatal Fury Team
Art of Fighting Team
Official Invitation Team
South America Team
South Town Team
Psycho Soldier Team
Ikari Warriors Team
Another World Team
Women Fighters Team
- Clemence Bellamy (KOF's reporter)
- Yakov (Antonov's assistant)
Tung's Disciples Team
- Terry Bogard
- Geese Howard
NESTS Girls Team
- Kula Diamond
- Sylvie Paula Paula
"Lucky Sevens" Team
- Mui Mui
- Love Heart
- Andy Bogard
- Mai Shiranui
- Bandeiras Hattori
- Chin Gentsai
- Tung Fu Rue
- Ryo Sakazaki
- Mui Mui
- Sie Kensou
- Robert Garcia
- Joe Higashi
The Mysterious Newcomers
- King of Dinosaurs
Beautiful Longhair Team
- Athena Asamiya
- Kula Diamond
- Note 1: In this game, the stages are again associated with the teams and the bosses, which hasn't happened in a canonical game of the series since KOF '96 (and in a game of the series since KOF 2002 UM).
- Note 2: When the player fights in DLC stages or in the Training Stage (exclusively available in Versus and Tranning Modes), the music of the stage is associated to the first character chosen to fight. In the Story Mode and Versus Mode against CPU, it's the first character in the right team; in Versus Mode with two players and we fight in the Training Stage, it's the first character of the left team.
- Note 3: In Story Mode, the Japan and Official Invitation Teams are the only teams to be faced after the first cutscene, and the DLC characters are always faced before the second and the third cutscenes, respectively.
- Neo Esaka — Japan Team & Oswald: Set on a raised platform overlooking the Esaka Station area of Osaka, Japan. Numerous sponsorship boards line the arena along with low fences to keep the fight contained to the platform. In the background, a billboard with portraits of the active fighters can be seen.
- Industrial Area — Yagami Team: An industrial rooftop covered with pipes with a large refinery in the background. The stage takes place at night, with dark clouds and a crescent moon visible in the sky. Similar to the Rivals Team stage in The King of Fighters '95.
- Navajoland — Fatal Fury Team & Mary: Takes place amidst the gas station pumps of a truck stop diner in the middle of the desert of Arizona (the dinner visible on the right side of the stage). Spectators are casually gathered around to witness the battle and semi-trucks can be seen parked on the left side of the stage. Also features, in the background, the Monument Valley. Similar to the South Town stage in KOF '96, Terry and Rick's shared stage in RBFF2 and to the Big Bear's stage in Fatal Fury 2 and Fatal Fury Special.
- Maple Garden — Art of Fighting Team: A patio-like area next to a maple tree forest, with a small Japanese temple on the right side, a small waterfall at the left side and two wooden braziers in the center. There is a view over a calm bay in the background, and the stage takes place at night, with the sky filled with black clouds and a small full moon in the distant background. Similar to the Korea stage in KOF '94.
- Hotel Marine Paradise — Kim Team: A submerged restaurant and a hotel reception with large pillars. The battle takes place in a roped-off area in the center of the restaurant. In the background people can be seen sitting and observing the aquatic life swim by the large glass panes that separate them from the water outside. Marine life, such as whales and sharks, can be seen passing outside. Similar to Aquarium stage in The King of Fighters 2000.
- Underground Prison — Villains Team: A dungeon-like area with ruined, crumbling stone walls strewn about and prisoners observing the fight. There are two suspended cages, an empty cage on the left edge of the screen and another cages with a prisoners inside near the center and in the left.
- Masquerade — Official Invitation Team: A high-class opera house. The battle takes place on the stage and the wealthy elite mill around at ground level and in the upper balconies, all wearing face masks to keep with the masquerade theme. Banners with sponsorship logos can be seen surrounding the stage and Pegasus statues are situated at opposite ends of the stage.
- Iguazu Falls — South America Team: The Iguazu Falls, in Brazil, near the Triple Frontier. The stage is set on a balcony in the midst of several rainforest plants such as palm trees. In the distant background a large waterfall can be seen cascading down the sheer cliffs. The balcony is covered in glowing blue hexagonal tiles and there are several domed structures erected on the cliff-side. The closest dome has a banner with yellow text that reads "KING OF FIGHTERS in Latin America".
- Guanajuato Dynamite Ring — Mexico Team & Vanessa: A large wrestling ring situated in the town square of Guanajuato, Mexico. The ring ropes are colored red, white, and blue and the turnbuckles have print on them with phrases such as "KOF IN MEXICO" and "LUCHA LIBRE". Spectators are seen at the ground level watching the brawl. Día de los Muertos ("Day of the Dead") decorations adorn the town square and a King of Dinosaurs banner is draped over one of the buildings. In the background, can be seen the Cathedral of León.
- Geese Tower — South Town Team: The Geese Howard's inner sanctum at the top of his skyscraper, overlooking the city of South Town. An elaborate centerpiece of Buddhist statues adorns the middle of the room and thick, red, Asian-inspired columns flank it to the left and right. A pair of vases and a large ceremonial drum are placed in the area in front of the centerpiece. The floor is composed of finely polished wood and rainfall can be seen outside. An American flag banner is hanging from the awning, alluding to Geese's affinity for blending American and Asian culture.
- The Great Wall of China — China Team: A wide stone platform on the Great Wall, with the wall itself in the background curving across to the right. The platform has a pagoda-like gold sculpture on the right side, whilst the left side has an archway with some sort of decorative tassel hanging in the center.
- The Bund — Psycho Soldier Team: The Bingjiang Da Dao riverside, near the Huangpu River, in Shanghai, in a celebration to the Chinese New Year. This stage takes place at night with a full moon, and the city's downtown district is visible across the river in the background. The river features a multi-decked boat with a large dragon-shaped prow.
- Heidern Fleet — Ikari Warriors Team, Whip & Heidern: A large aircraft carrier with bunting depicting army flags strung in the air. Jet fighters are positioned in the foreground, whilst the carrier's control tower is in the background. Similar to John Crawley's stage in the first Art of Fighting.
- Dream World — Another World Team: Some kind of amusement park. The fighting area is surrounded by a castle like stone wall, with numerous red and gold banners hanging from the wall; the banner in the top-center reads 'THE KING OF FIGHTERS'. There are several costumed figures, including two stilt-walkers, standing in the foreground watching the fight, with the central figure wearing a large cartoonish bodysuit of a patchwork animal in a witch's hat holding a staff. There are three dioramas of fairground rides just behind the costumed figures; the one on the left is of a 'teacup' ride, the one on the right is of a roller coaster, and the one in the center is of a carousel. The carousel has a large sign on the bottom reading 'THE KING OF FIGHTERS SPECIAL PARADE'.
- Derelict Church — K' Team: An abandoned church where one wall has crumbled away. The pews can be seen up the center while statues and stained glass windows adorn the side opposite the crumbled wall.
- Old Castle — Women Fighters Team: The gardens of a large castle, with the castle itself taking up most of the background. The stage takes place at sunset, and there are two small fountains, one on each edges of the stage, with the fountain on the left being in the foreground and the fountain on the right being further away. Similar to the Women Fighters Team stages in KOF '94 and The King of Fighters '94 Rebout.
- Antonov Super Arena: Similar to the arena where the concluding battles of The King of Fighters '96 take place. An outdoor stage area surrounded by packed grandstands and cameras both on the ground and raised above the fight via boom arms. In the background a platform can be seen, presumably where the winning team will receive their commendation. Associated with Antonov.
- Destroyed Arena: A destroyed variant of Antonov Super Arena where the final boss battle takes place Can be seen a cloudy sky and Clemence Bellamy's cameraman. Associated with Verse.
- Training Stage: A sparse arena used for training. The back wall is covered in white tiles whilst the floor is covered in grey tiles. There are several thick black lines painted across the tiles, including vertically across the center, the left edge and the right edge, as well as horizontally across the floor; the combatants stand upon this horizontal line whilst fighting. The vertical line across the center features a small gold shield positioned halfway up the wall, with the letters 'KOF' engraved across it. The update 1.10 (graphical update) adds a customizable digital billboard beneath the KOF shield, much like the one in the Neo Esaka stage. In manga adaption’s chapter 19 (A New Beginning), it's revealed to be located in Antonov Super Arena, provided for the fighters to train for the next matches.
- Transcontinental Railroad — Rock: Terry Bogard's stage from Fatal Fury 2 and Fatal Fury Special. The differences between the versions of the stage are: the logo in the wagon floor and outdoors over all the stage, besides crates, barrels and bags.
- Note: When Terry fights in this stage, the song "Kurinkunton Flavor" plays, no matter in which order and team he was chosen to fight.
- City Circuit — Yamazaki: Monaco stage from The King of Fighters '97. The differences between the versions of the stage are: the crowd, the sponsors, flags, an animated panel with Antonov's photo and can be seen a yatch and two trucks passing, one with covers of SNK's first editions of games in the carriage.
- Note: The truck with cover games of SNK appears only in the end of the round, and only for three winner characters: Terry (Fatal Fury), Ryo (Art of Fighting) and Nakoruru (Samurai Shodown).
- Riyadh — Najd: The terrace of the Masmak Fort, overlooking the skyscrapers of the Saudi capital city. The Kingdom and the Al Faisaliyah Centers, along with the Al Majdoul Tower can be seen in the background. The AMBC's cameraman can also be seen, along with a zeppelin broadcasting images of the fight, some spectators from the City Circuit and Navajoland stages. There are also flags with the championship logo and the sponsors.
On January 31, 2017, SNK announced a manhua which would cover the game's main story. The first chapter is released on February 1, 2017. The series ended with only 8 chapters released.
A new manga series titled A New Beginning illustrated by Kyoutarou Azuma is released on January 1, 2018. The series is published bi-weekly on Pocket Shonen Magazine online and is collected monthly on the Shonen Sirius magazine.
This videos appears only during the DLC Season 1.
- Official Japanese website
- Official English website, Atlus Official website, Deep Silver Official website
- PlayStation Experience 2015 trailer
- Official Facebook
- NESiCA Page
- 4Gamer Interview
- Steam Special page
- The King of Fighters XIV Steam Edition
- The King of Fighters XIV Galaxy Edition (GOG)
- The King of Fighters XIV Ultimate Edition (PS4)