reviews\ Dec 29, 2003 at 7:00 pm

THE KING OF FIGHTERS 2000/2001 - PS2 - Review

Unfortunately, the Playstation 2 isn’t home to many 2D fighters. Even more unfortunate is the fact that the 2D genre is dying all together, save for the few companies that are fighting to keep it alive; SNK NeoGeo is one of those companies. SNK NeoGeo is the American version of the deceased SNK, and thanks to them The King of Fighters series isn’t quite a memory just yet.

The King of Fighters 00/01 collects King of Fighters 2000 and 2001 in a single PS2 game with additional features never before seen in previous arcade or console versions. Both 2000 and 2001 are almost identical as far as control and gameplay mechanics go, but 2001 sports improved graphics, more fighters, and a more intricate soundtrack.

The King of Fighters series does a really good job of balancing all the fighters. King of Fighters 2000 has 35 playable characters, all with their own unique characteristics and moves. On top of that, each character has an additional Striker. Strikers are fighters that don’t actually fight, but they offer a helping hand when called (much like the support characters from Marvel vs. Capcom). You can call your Striker in 3 times per fight.

There are even more available Strikers if you can survive long enough in Party Mode, which is like a timed survival mode. King of Fighters 2000 offers other modes, including Team Play, Single Play, Practice, Memory, and Party Mode. Single and Team Play are two different ways to play through the Arcade Mode – In Single Play You pick one character to fight as, while in Team Play you choose a team. One fighter fights at a time, and when one is defeated the next in line fills in. Practice Mode is where you can practice your moves and Memory Mode allows you to watch footage from older King of Fighters games. Finally, Party Mode is a survival mode where you can see how long you last against waves of enemies…the longer you survive, the more Strikers you can unlock.

King of Fighters 2001 adds even more playable characters; upping the roster to 40 characters available from the beginning. Additional Strikers are unlockable in the same fashion as in 2000 – in Party Mode. KoF 2001 has all the same modes as 2000: Single and Team Play, Practice Mode, and Party Mode.

The graphics and sound in KoF 2000 are a bit dated; the character sprites are pretty rough and the music is somewhat plain. In KoF 2001 the graphics seem much smoother and the gameplay takes the speed up a notch. The soundtrack even sounds better, with higher quality sounds and catchy music.

The controls in both are sharp and precise. The button layout is nice and simple too; light punch and kick and hard punch and kick, taunt, and a button to call in your Striker. Moves are easy to figure out and, with the Practice Mode, perfect.

The King of Fighters 00/01 is a great collection of classic fighting games. Don’t expect breakthrough graphics or new innovations, expect King of Fighter nostalgia and good old fashion 2D fighting. The graphics and sound are definitely Playstation-level quality, but you’re getting two for one. Plus, the gameplay is good enough to make up for it.

Reviewer's Scoring Details

Gameplay: 8
The controls are responsive and the different modes keep the gameplay varied. There are also plenty of things to unlock so there are reasons to play each mode. All the unique fighters and Strikers add strategy to the battles and will keep you busy trying them all out.

Graphics: 6.8 
The graphics in KoF 2000 are a bit gritty, but they get a nice little facelift in 2001. Both games definitely look like Playstation games, but that doesn’t mean they look terrible. The animation in both games is smooth and the framerate is constant. Overall it doesn’t look great, but there’s also nothing to complain about.

Sound: 6.5
KoF is full of the battle cries, punching and kicking, and explosive sound effects everyone has come to expect in a fighting game. Although these sounds are a bit lower in quality than the recent 2-dimensional fighting games, they’re there and they serve their purpose. The soundtrack is decent in KoF 2000, but picks up in 2001. 

Difficulty: Medium
You can change the difficulty in the options menu, but the default setting is pretty good for experienced fighters. Towards the end of either Arcade Mode it can get fairly tough, though. Taking some time in Practice Mode or on an easier setting can give you the practice you need and help in mastering your favorite character.

Concept: 8 
I love seeing new 2D fighters come out, even if they’re just revivals of older games. This genre definitely needs more attention, and I hope more collections of various classic fighting games are released in the future.

Multiplayer: 7
As with any fighting game, the real treat is putting your moves to the test. There’s nothing quite like fighting your best friend, and King of Fighters is no exception. KoF 2001 feels a bit faster than 2000, making the battles a bit more intense. Either way, this is a great game to play with friends.

Overall: 7.3
The King of Fighters 00/01 brings two classics to the very small library of 2D fighters on Playstation 2. The idea to package two together was a good one, since both games are fairly outdated. Although these are both great games, some gamers might want more than just gameplay. Games like Guilty Gear and Marvel vs. Capcom set the bar pretty high for 2D fighters these days, and they definitely raise expectations. KoF 00/01 is a wonderful homage to the series, and hopefully SNK NeoGeo decides to bring more to the PS2 in the future.


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