(logo yoinked from Dengeki Online)
To be clear, I didnâ€™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 didnâ€™t really help either.
To be honest, the fact that everyoneâ€™s complaint about the game seems to be â€˜the game plays fine, but the port sucksâ€™ just astounds me. I have to conclude that these people never really played the games that came before XII (the great KOF XI and KOFâ€™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 2003â€™s incomplete tag system, fleshed it out and made it awesome; â€˜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 Wooâ€™s close C from a full character length away?
Anyway, what does all of this have to do with KOF XIII?
Simply put, Iâ€™m not super confident about it. Based on a comment from Falcoon back in 2006 (shortly after XIâ€™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 didnâ€™t even have super meters and most of the subsystems implemented, Iâ€™d say that the bulk of the time was spent on drawing those fancy new sprites. Theyâ€™ve had a year to work on the game since then, but given that these sprites take so long to draw (SNKP themselves said itâ€™s 16 months per character in terms of man-hours), Iâ€™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 theyâ€™ll add super cancels! Or a multiple-level power meter! Thatâ€™d truly be revolutionary.
So yeah. Iâ€™m keeping an eye on it, but Iâ€™m not holding my breath.
Nice logo though.