The King of Fighters 2002/2003 – PS2 – Review

For almost
every product there is usually an originator and a duplicator. The originator is
usually the product that comes out first to market and grabs the attention of
consumers. The “duplicator” or “copy-cat” is the product that comes out after
the originator and is usually just released to hopefully attract consumers
willing to purchase the same or similar product. 


This is a
common cycle with most businesses around the world because it’s a way to make a
quick buck for the company. Why worry about inventing a new product (and the
cost associated with developing a new innovative product) when you can take the
idea someone already and make money. Brilliant! For those of you that are bored
with my elementary level analysis of Business 101, just think about a few
examples. It shouldn’t be hard to come up with a handful of examples of products
you’re using right now. In fact if you’re reading this review then you’re
already aware of a copy-cat/duplicator product, The King of Fighters.


Now, wait a
minute, before I get hate mail from the SNK faithful you have to hear me out
first. The King of Fighters series by SNK was born out of the explosion that was
Street Fighter II. Street Fighter II (SFII) was a ground breaking and
revolutionary 2D -game that spawned countless number of sequels. SFII was so
popular that literally most gaming companies were releasing 2D fighting games in
the arcades and home consoles. SNK was one of the companies competing with
Capcom in the arcade industry with games such as Art of Fighting and Fatal Fury.
While these games were well made fighting games they always remained “under the
radar” so to speak. For every 10 people playing SFII you would have maybe four
to five playing Art of Fighting or Fatal Fury. But because fighting games were
so popular it always seemed as if a new version of SFII, Art of Fighting or
Fatal Fury was being released every few months. SFII might have been more
popular there was still plenty of people playing the SNK-developed fighting


At one point
there were so many fighting games released that it became hard to please the
fans with sequels. It seemed that for every new character added a former fan
favorite was omitted. SNK had a brilliant idea of trying to include an
assortment of characters from their other fighting games in one game. Out of
this was born the King of Fighters series. The first King of Fighters game
released in the arcades was King of Fighters 94 (KoF94). In fact up until 2004
there was always a yearly update to the King of Fighters series. With each year
new characters were created, old characters added (or removed), and the game was
always released for the same system, the Neo Geo AVS system. The Neo Geo AVS
system was one of the longest-lasting gaming systems every released. In fact if
you visit five arcades today there’s a good chance three of those arcades will
still have a Neo Geo AVS system playing.


But enough of the
business and history lesson, let’s talk about a PS2 game. King of Fighters
2002/2003 is the latest edition of the KoF series available for the PS2. Similar
to the previous version released on PS2 (2000/2001) the latest version includes
two different games from the King of Fighter series. KoF 2002 and KoF 2003 are
two different fighting games that were previously available only for the Neo Geo
home system. But take into consideration that purchasing a copy of the home
version of either KoF 2002 or KoF 2003 for the Neo Geo home system would cost
you at least $200.00 each. But for us lucky PS2 owners a little patience paid
off very well. Both versions included in this collection include some additional
features not found in the original arcade or home versions.



The same great
playing and controlling fighting games are included. There isn’t a difference
between how the original arcade version play compared to the PS2 versions. All
of the same moves are included in both versions and if you played either version
in the arcade then you won’t have a problem duplicating the moves on the PS2
version. The only issue with the controls is due to the PS2 controller. The
controller works well but still isn’t the best choice for a 2D-fighting game. A
tight and responsive arcade style control stick will always work better for any
of the SNK or Capcom fighting games. If you’ve played nothing but Street Fighter
games then you will have to spend some time getting used to the different moves
of the SNK characters. The game includes a built-in skill set list that you can
view at any time when you pause the game.



The graphics for
both versions are almost identical to the arcade versions. Now remember these
games were designed on a system that is almost 16-years old. So while you still
get great animation and detailed graphics for the characters and stages, the
out-of-date look of the graphics might turn off some players. These are
low-resolution character sprites simply because of the technology the games were
designed on. The game does include some 3D updates to the backgrounds, which fit
in very nicely with the rest of the game. Some of the new 3D updates do stand
out a little compared to the rest of the background but it’s nothing that’s a
shock to your eyes. If you want both games include the ability to turn off the
3D updates and play the games in the standard arcade mode. Give it a try and
you’ll probably stick with the updated backgrounds.



Since these are
two different games then there is obviously a difference between both games. In
the previous King of Fighter games (up until 2002) the concept was usually a
team-match setting. You selected up to three characters for your team and
battled it out against the other fighters. When one of your characters went
down, the round would be over. The next fighter on the team would play the next
round and this would repeat until either you or the computer was the last one
standing. As I mentioned, this is the same setup in KoF 2002, but KoF 2003
changes it up. In KoF 2003 you still select three fighters for your team but you
can now “tag in” another fighter at any time by pressing the R1 or R2 button.
Instead of matches dragging on for a while, KoF 2003 had a quicker and (at least
to me) more enjoyable pace to game.


The other
difference between both games is the number of fighters available for you to
choose from. In KoF 2002 there are over 40-plus characters to choose from while
in 2003 this number is reduced considerably. If you’re a fan of the SNK fighting
games then you will find more of your favorite characters in 2002. If you’ve
never played a King of Fighters game then you will probably enjoy the
faster-paced action in 2003. But if you want to go it old school, then you still
have the option of single play in both games. Single play is where you select
just one character to play in the game. Both games offer the Team play or Single
Play option. In KoF 2003 there is a survival option for both Team and Single
player that allows you to see how long you can last with the same characters
with no continues. Both games also include a Practice mode and a Gallery mode.



Both games
included in this collection are classic 2D-fighting games that shouldn’t be
overlooked. If you’ve grown up on Tekken or Virtua Fighter then these might not
be the games for you. However, if you really want a challenge then you shouldn’t
overlook the King of Fighters 2002/2003 for PS2. Classic games are always great
to have but getting two classic games in one collection is even better.


Review Scoring Details for

King of Fighter 2002/2003


Gameplay: 8.7
Gameplay is always the bread and butter of any fighting game. KoF 2002/2003 will
not disappoint the arcade purist or the hardcore fans of the 2D fighting genre.
All of the moves and controls are replicated with perfect precision. The
computer AI can be frustrating at times because some of the boss characters will
perform an endless array of special moves repeatedly. If you play with an
arcade-style control stick then you can add an additional