When you’ve experienced the future, sometimes it can be hard to go back, back to where it all began. The King of Fighters ’98 is that future many will have played thanks to the constant re-releases this entry enjoys, and rightfully so, with a huge roster, smooth beat downs and beautiful pixels, who wouldn’t want to experience such fighting perfection? And then we have The King of Fighters ’94, the origin story, ready and waiting to show you that time isn’t always quite so kind.
KOF ’94 was something else when it arrived punching and kicking into arcades. Taking favourites from other hit SNK fighters, Fatal Fury and Art of Fighting, pitting them against each other along with some fresh faces made for an exciting cross-over experience, long before Super Smash Bros. was opening a dimensional hole in the Ninten-verse.
It also introduced the idea of having three versus three matches, allowing players the chance of more arcade quality time for their quarters, along with the necessity to get to grips with more than just your average Ryu knock-off. Team matches meant you now had to master the heavy, the nimble and the oddball if you hoped to claim the title of The King of the Fighters.
Though today KOF ’94 feels a little old, a little slow. The inability to choose your own three-man teams feels restrictive, and to make up for more time in play, the game ups the difficulty to the point that it will break you. And ’98 calls you.