King of Fighters 2001

Neo Geo

Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 9

Sound: 5

Gameplay: 8

Overall: 8


kof20012_neogeo.png (35880 bytes)Those who spend $300+ dollars on a 2-D fighting game in this era don't want change. They want the experience they have enjoyed since the inception their favorite series. King of Fighters 2001 is one of those fighters, changing things around without a reason to do so, and failing to keep the gameplay involving as it should be. However, it's still one of the best fighting games out there.

This is an odd mix for the series. Gameplay tweaks are borrowed from multiple entries in this yearly release. Differentiating this one from about any one-on-one fighter on the market is the revamped striker system. Instead of the previously standard three combatants and a striker, players now choose how many will fight and how many will jump in to contribute to long combo strings.

kof20011_neogeo.png (34140 bytes)It seems like an obvious choice for new players to have an extra fighter to back them up, but the way this system is set up, it's made for the chaos of multiple strikers. Putting one fighter on the sidelines waiting for their chance to be called in adds an extra layer to the special meter, and bigger that becomes, the more moves become available. It's a fantastic switch, though not one that's accepted by purists. It takes a steep layer of strategy from the series, and plants it firmly in the real of Capcom's wild Vs. series.

Characters are also big news this year, adding in some twisted, wild, and unique fighters to the mix. Any sense of reality in character design has been tossed, allowing for oddball designs that are a break from the usual set. Animation is amazing on these new entrants, and they clash with the well-known fighters heavily. It looks like the sprites have been created by two entirely different art teams.

To follow along with the change in traditional designs, their fighting styles are a switch too. Characters feel as if they're from an entirely different series, their moves wild and uncontrolled until you find a rhythm. That's when they fit in.

kof20013_neogeo.png (32286 bytes)The only truly disappointing switch is the audio. What used to be new classic video game music every year has de-evolved into cheap techno. A few traditional tracks exist, but are far too rare to be considered plentiful. It's another way this entry changes itself from the norm, only this switch won't find many fans.

Rounding off the complaints are the bosses. These are the cheapest characters ever inserted into a SNK fighter, and looking at their history, that says something. You can land brilliant combos that would end a round against a standard fighter, yet here, you'll need to measure pixels just to ensure you've done damage. It's absurd and a miserable attempt at creating some form of replay value.

Even if you're not the die-hard player who seems to dig into the game code to learn every intricate detail, this 2001 edition of SNK's premiere series has a lot to offer. The standard gameplay remains intact, and the engine used to power this one hasn't dated itself at all. It may not go over well with everyone, but this version shows there's plenty of room left to play with for the King of Fighters series.


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Last updated: Thursday, September 15, 2005 12:12 AM