Reviewed: March 25, 2009
Released: March 3, 2009
Fighting titles have been as much of my life as some of my favorite shooters. While I am not the greatest at them some of my favorites include Street Fighter II, Art of Fighting, and Bloody Roar. But one of the toughest fighters on the market is The King of Fighters series. SNK is currently working on The King of Fighters XII which releases later this year but for now players can fine tune their skills on The King of Fighters ’98: Ultimate Match for the PS2. This title released in Japan last year and finally here in the States in its first reintroduction in over 10 years.
It has been a long time since I have picked up a PS2 controller and played a KOF title so to say the least I got trounced for several matches before I was able to get things down again. So with that said onward with my review of The King of Fighters ’98: Ultimate Match.
King of Fighters ’98: Ultimate Match is one of those titles where if you are not a veteran of the series then you will most likely be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of modes and characters to choose from. KOF ’98 UM features 64 characters in its roster, 10 of which are new to this version. To add more to the fray, KOF ’98 UM features the updated version and the original NEOGEO version as well.
The updated version features 5 different modes including Arcade, Single Play, Practice, Challenge and Endless. The NEOGEO ROM version features 4 modes such as Team, Single, Survivor, and Practice. Both versions also feature the System selection save the Ultimate Match version which adds the Ultimate option. I will say one thing about KOF is that it is one of if not the most serious fighter series on the market. For you KOF vets out there this release will not disappoint.
The updated version of KOF ’98 is one of the most expansive fighters that I have ever had the opportunity to play or review. The different modes allow a single player to compete in a one on one fight against the CPU or you can also choose to do a 3 on 3 bouts the same way. The bone crunching action doesn’t stop there as a second player can activate Burst-In Play at anytime while the first is playing Single or Arcade mode and challenge him or her. The winner of the duel resumes whatever mode was being played before. We all know that fighting titles are cool to play by yourself but it’s not nearly as fun as it is when you are trouncing your buddies butt in a martial arts bout.
Endless Mode is a blast as you embark on a one man battle against an endless barrage of 1 on 1 matches against the CPU. The mode is not timed so you can take a bit longer that normal to take out your opponent. The journey ends when your life energy is extinguished, but if you win your life energy is replenished in various degrees depending on how you defeat your enemy. The Challenge mode is one of my favorite modes in KOF ’98 UM. Here you must complete missions by completing a desired clear condition. For instance one of the missions clear condition is to successful execute 5 Body Toss Evasions, I had a lot of fun trying to do these challenges, some of them were not easy.
Graphically, King of Fighters ’98: Ultimate Match shows its age but then again what can you expect for a title that is 10 years old. The animations and locations are still very well done and have aged well so to speak. I do love the reactions of your teammates in the background when you are doing 3 on 3 bouts. They either cheer of flinch in some manner or another throughout the fight which is pretty cool.
I also liked the flash to red and fade white that happens every time you are defeated. Not that that is a good thing to have happen, but it was cool. I also like the intro video that kind of sums up the previous titles up until this title.
The sound in King of Fighters ’98: Ultimate Match is quite good despite its age. The intro music gets you in the mood to want to kick some butt and the general musical tone of the title is pretty cool. The sound effects are also good and all of the character’s catch phrases are still intact.
King of Fighters ’98: Ultimate Match does not fail to impress in the value department as you are getting two games on one disc. Fan of the series will appreciate the NEOGEO ROM version of KOF ’98 as well as its updated counterpart. The extra fighting style type and the Endless and Challenge mode are really cool even for someone like me that isn’t fantastic at these types of titles.
King of Fighters ’98: Ultimate Match comes with two discs, the first is the game disc and the second is a bonus disc containing trailers and wallpapers for the upcoming title “The King of Fighters XII.” Along with the second disc there is still plenty of extra stuff to be had on the first disc. Players can view the ending illustrations and plain illustrations for both the PlayStation and PlayStation 2 consoles. You can even unlock videos that become available after beating the Endless mode.
All in all, The King of Fighters ’98: Ultimate Match is an awesome game. There is plenty to do for both new and veteran fighters and will keep you entertained for some time. The KOF series has always been one of the finest fighters on the market and I only wish that I was at them in general. Button Mashing will only get you so far in this “King of All Fighters.” The King of Fighters ’98: Ultimate Match retails for around $20 dollars so you would be crazy not to pick this title up. I definitely recommend picking it up.