tempest in a teacup

the pointless musings of a strange recluse

Oh, who would ever want to be king

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Looks like King of Fighters XIII is en route.

(logo yoinked from Dengeki Online)

To be clear, I didn’t like KOF XII at all. I did pay $60 for the game, but in retrospect, my money would have probably been better spent on something else. And no, my complaints have little to do with the lacklustre console port – they all centre around what was done to the game system itself. General dumbing down, removal of anything that might be potential interesting and highly stripped-down movelists that made even my usual go-to KOF characters boring as hell to play. Oh yeah, and the stuff about the sprites being upscaled didn’t really help either.

To be honest, the fact that everyone’s complaint about the game seems to be ‘the game plays fine, but the port sucks’ just astounds me. I have to conclude that these people never really played the games that came before XII (the great KOF XI and KOF’98 Ultimate Match) and what came after it (the equally great KOF2002 Unlimited Match). I regard all of those games as superior to KOF XII in every way, simply because their systems were far more interesting. They may not have fancy fake-HD sprites with tons of frames, but they make up for it by actually being fun to play. XI took 2003’s incomplete tag system, fleshed it out and made it awesome; ‘98UM added new twists to a classic formula without breaking it (I actually have a reason to try and use the Extra mode meter and dodging now) and 2002UM addressed my only problems with the original game (crappy aesthetics and stripped-down movelists) while making enough system tweaks to be interesting.

Out of the new stuff KOF XII added, I only regard the Guard Attack and guard crush CDs as interesting, and the latter already made an appearance in KOF NeoWave (albeit in a slightly different form). Critical counters and deadlocks are too rare and too difficult to get to be of any consequence, and the changes they made to how close and far attacks work is just off-putting. Why the hell would I want Shen Woo’s close C from a full character length away?

Anyway, what does all of this have to do with KOF XIII?

Simply put, I’m not super confident about it. Based on a comment from Falcoon back in 2006 (shortly after XI’s arcade release), they worked on KOF XII for 3 1/2 years before releasing it, and the end result of that was a game that felt stripped down in every single way. Given also that the first build of the game at AOU 2009 didn’t even have super meters and most of the subsystems implemented, I’d say that the bulk of the time was spent on drawing those fancy new sprites. They’ve had a year to work on the game since then, but given that these sprites take so long to draw (SNKP themselves said it’s 16 months per character in terms of man-hours), I’m not expecting a major shakeup in the game system. Maybe everyone gets a new move or two, and we get 2-3 new characters at most.

Hey, maybe they’ll add super cancels! Or a multiple-level power meter! That’d truly be revolutionary.

So yeah. I’m keeping an eye on it, but I’m not holding my breath.

Nice logo though.

4 comments

4 Responses to “Oh, who would ever want to be king”

  1. Photon says:

    Yep, everywhere I go (SRK, HVO, ON, Cap-UNity, etc) everyone’s cautious now. XII’s one of those rare games that have lowered expectations across the board.

    I can’t believe they’re doing such a poor job of bringing 98UM and 2002 UM over. From what I gather, they’re wasting an opportunity to re-tool NGBC too. (An HDR or at least KOF XI arrange mode deal would have been great.) They should have taken notes from Capcom’s Alpha Anthologies and Third Strike re-release.

    Either they’re a) really confident with their hold on the mobile and pinball markets, b) don’t care about places outside of China/Japan, or c)as someone elsewhere said, they hate making money.

    Long time no see btw. I’m reading through and want to reply to the SFIV-related blog entry you posted a while back, but I’m thinking of the right words. lol

  2. Rex Dart says:

    If they do bring back super cancels, I hope they’re similar to NGBC in that they don’t cost a power stock.

    One problem with a multiple-level power meter to the game would be, if they keep the CC system the same, some characters (Terry, Ralf and Elizabeth come to mind) would be able to combo two of their supers together. Obviously they wouldn’t have to keep the CC system the same, but I think the two really don’t go together very well.

    I loved KOF XI, but felt that it was a bit too excessive with the bar management. My favorite thing about XII’s system was that it gave the player so many more options while reducing the amount of stuff the player had to keep track of. Admittedly, everyone’s combo options took a hit, but I liked the direction SNK took.

    • sonictempest says:

      “I loved KOF XI, but felt that it was a bit too excessive with the bar management. My favorite thing about XII’s system was that it gave the player so many more options while reducing the amount of stuff the player had to keep track of. Admittedly, everyone’s combo options took a hit, but I liked the direction SNK took.”

      I don’t know how anyone can say this, really. KOFXII took KOFXI and aggressively removed subsystems, characters and moves – how can that result in ‘more options’?

      It’s not just combo options I’m talking about either. Removing all these options from the game (as well as individual characters) limits the ways in which people can get in. Sure, you can poke and hop around to create openings, but you could do this in all the other KOF games too – in addition to having several other ways to do it.

      You can argue that it doesn’t matter because everyone got nerfed in the same way, but the way I see it is that it made the game as a whole far less interesting for me to play. I have the same problem with vanilla KOF2002 – the only thing that made up for it was the MAX mode system that added a whole bunch of new options to most characters in the game. KOFXII doesn’t have any such big new feature that makes up for the loss of depth from XI.

      • Rex Dart says:

        Sorry, I didn’t phrase that very well. I meant that the core game system of XII offered more options than the core game system of XI. I’m overlooking the absence of moves and characters. I guess I’m also overlooking the format change from tagging to elimination battles.

        I realize this may sound like a pretty forced comparison at this point. However, when it comes down to a one-on-one battle in XI compared to any XII battle, I feel like I have more options at my disposal in XII than in XI.

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