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[SP Reviews] ACA NEO-GEO THE KING OF FIGHTERS 94 (XB1 - PS4 - Switch)

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  • [SP Reviews] ACA NEO-GEO THE KING OF FIGHTERS 94 (XB1 - PS4 - Switch)

    Fighting genre gets a new contender on this "Arms Race" of fighting games.

    In the mid-90's, fighting genre was an "Arms Race" of some sorts that engulfed the arcades, one-on-one battles that aimed to be the No.1 profit maker for operators and the favorite among fans. In 1994, Capcom was releasing Super Street Fighter II Turbo: Grand Master Challenge, Midway was taking its stand against both SSFII's with Mortal Kombat II, Atari Games was releasing the "Dinosaurs VS Giant Apes" smasher Primal Rage, and Nintendo teams up with Rare to unleash the memorable Killer Instinct. While older fighting games like Atari's Pit Fighter, obscure games like Strata's Bloodstorm, Taito's Dino Rex, Video System's Tao Taido and ADK-SNK's World Heroes series were going down as these big contenders were the only survivors.

    On the SNK-side, they had Fatal Fury, Fatal Fury 2, two Art of Fighting games, the World Heroes games and Samurai Shodown, Fighting genre was something they know really well. But one thing was certain, competition would take them down in any moment, so that means take actions quickly, and their answer was, of course, making another fighting game. Resulting in The King of Fighters 94.

    The King of Fighters 94 at first it looks like "another fighter of the bunch" for the common fighting enthusiast, but that's only the first impression. The main feature of this game is the ability of selecting a 3 fighters team, featuring characters from Fatal Fury and Art of Fighting, along with new, original faces like Kyo Kusanagi and the Japan Team, and even older faces from classic SNK games like the Ikari Warriors Ralf and Clark (formerly Paul and Vince) who made a return since the game Ikari III: The Rescue, and the Psycho Soldiers Athena Asamiya and Sie Kensou from the arcade game Psycho Soldier.
    Along with the three fighter team, you can select which one will be first or last. During the fight, each character has its own life bar, so if you defeated an opponent with 40% of life left, you'll face the next with the same amount of energy, only with a small recovery as a round clear bonus, a challenge for the player and an advantage for your opponent. This game also brought the ability of evade the enemy attacks by pressing both A and B buttons at the same time, something really useful since guarding only reduces the inflicted damage. To complete the fighting experience, a chargeable "Maximum" gauge was added which allows you to do a special attack, which can be considered as the successor of the Spirit Gauge from Art of Fighting.
    Like Street Fighter II' Champion Edition and Mortal Kombat, KOF 94 features "Mirror Matches" which means both players can play with the same team, for those who want to know who's the best Kyokugen fighter or the best Terry Bogard player. The only disappointment would be only felt by Fatal Fury fans because the "Two-line" system was not included.

    Graphically, it takes a different turn from what we saw on both Art of Fighting and Fatal Fury, where big sprites were the key of the Neo-Geo's power based on the "Size matters" principle. Instead, we've got a smaller, yet detailed enough characters and very fluid animations, some attacks will make them bleed, but in a more "realistic" manner than Mortal Kombat's gratuitous blood splashes. The backgrounds have 2 or even 3 layers, adding more depth to the scenery.

    As for the sound, it features crisp and flawless voice samples, the music doesn't fail on fitting on the stage and its background, from the parade-like pace of England to the dark-suspense/terror of the Korea stage, the atmosphere of the stage is filled appropiately by the music.

    Being part of the ACA Neo-Geo library, we can play the "Original Mode" in both japanese and english versions, along with the Time Attack "Caravan Mode" to see how far you can get in 5 minutes and the Score Mode for those who enjoy to do 1-credit clearing.

    - KOF 94 was originally concieved as a game called Survivor, which was meant to be a Final Fight-like 2.5 brawler featuring key characters from Art of Fighting and Fatal Fury, the player would be allowed to pick three characters. However the idea was discarded in favor of a fighting game, but the concept of a 3-character team was picked, becoming the main feature of the KOF series, along with the crossover premise which became the core of all the King of Fighters games.
    - This game was intended to be a single entry, but the immense success of the game made SNK to change their mind and make a sequel each year. Seems like SNK made something and it was big and promising.
    - This game used 196 of the 330 megabits of the Neo-Geo, which means 24.75 Megabytes in total.
    - SNK advertised this game as "Team Battle Action Game", despite Action and Fighting are different game genres.
    - There's a Top Hunter cameo in the Mexico stage, where Roddy and Cathy can be seen as spectators becoming their first cameo on SNK's library of games.
    - In the Italy stage, we can see Big Bear, Duck King, Tung Fu Rue and Cheng Sinzan from the first two Fatal Fury games appear as spectators on the gondola.
    - The 1994 King of Fighters tournament is the first competition made outside of Southtown.
    - Lucky Glauber was inspired by the Neo-Geo basketball game Street Hoop/Street Slam/Dunk Dream.
    - During the Rugal introduction cutscene, we can see statues of Guile, Zangief, Akuma and a shirtless Ken, making a pun on Street Fighter II.
    - Like with Samurai Shodown, The King of Fighters 94 was developed by former Capcom employees, this former company staff thing was becoming common on SNK and the Neo-Geo, like the Ex-IREM staff that made Last Resort, Pulstar and Metal Slug.
    - Heidern's name comes from Wemm Heidern from the anime Space Battleship Yamato.
    - This is the first time in SNK's history where the Ikari Warriors no longer use their localization names of Paul and Vince.
    - As part of the 10th anniversary of the KOF series, it was re-released and enhanced on the PlayStation 2 as The King of Fighters 94 Re-Bout with HD graphics and the inclusion of the Team Edit feature from KOF 95.

    More than a bit of history, this game was a combination of all the previous experience on fighting games put together, creating a groundbreaker for the fighting genre with multiple inclusions and interesting features that made the first step towards the pinnacle of fighting.
    Last edited by Sturmvogel Prime; 02-05-2018, 12:47 PM.

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