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"Violent fighting to come again!"

SNK's flagship series returns for another year. Many of the changes in this year's KOF release come in the form of improved graphics, sound effects, music and totally redone character sprites. The gameplay of the system has been altered with the addition of "Rush" multi-hit combos and new moves for practically every character. The storyline of the series receives heavy focus in this release with the Orochi Saga swinging into high-gear.

The King of Fighters '96 has 27 regular characters plus 2 boss characters (who can be unlocked with the use of a code). Newcomers to the tournament include Mr. Big from the Art of Fighting series, the bosses from Fatal Fury (Wolfgang Krauser and Geese Howard), and completely original characters like Leona Heidern, Mature and Vice. Other features carried over from the previous year include the ability to choose between the default "Team Fighting" mode or the traditional "Single Fighter" style of gameplay, plus the "Versus" and "Survival" gameplay modes.


The King of Fighters '96 Arcade Leg grab
The King of Fighters '96 Arcade Mai assaults Mature
The King of Fighters '96 Neo Geo Mai Shiranui avoids Kyo Kusanagi's anti-air move 100 Shiki: Oniyaki using her move Musasabi no Mai.
The King of Fighters '96 Arcade Chang uses chain to choke rivals

Promo Images

The King of Fighters '96 Screenshot
The King of Fighters '96 Screenshot
The King of Fighters '96 Screenshot
The King of Fighters '96 Screenshot

Alternate Titles

  • "拳皇96" -- Simplified Chinese spelling
  • "The King of Fighters: Heat of Battle" -- European Game Boy title
  • "KOF '96" -- Informal title
  • "ザ・キング・オブ・ファイターズ'96" -- Japanese spelling

Part of the Following Groups

User Reviews

Changes, some good, some bad....but still KOF. Plus: worst boss ever in a fighting game. PlayStation Zovni (10623)

Critic Reviews

Ação Games Neo Geo CD Dec, 1996 10 out of 10 100
The Video Game Critic Neo Geo Mar 14, 2009 A 100
Total! (Germany) Game Boy Apr, 1998 1.25 out of 6 95
Digital Press - Classic Video Games Neo Geo Sep 14, 2005 9 out of 10 90
Daddelkingz Neo Geo Jan 11, 2002 4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars 80
Nintendo Life Wii Jul 19, 2012 7 Stars7 Stars7 Stars7 Stars7 Stars7 Stars7 Stars7 Stars7 Stars7 Stars 70
Defunct Games Neo Geo Feb 21, 2004 B- 67
Defunct Games Wii Aug 01, 2012 C+ 58
Consoles News PlayStation Sep, 1997 2 Stars2 Stars2 Stars2 Stars2 Stars 40
The Video Game Critic Neo Geo CD Mar 14, 2009 D- 16


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Version differences

  • As a bonus for every home port (PSX, NeoGeo CD, etc.) not only you can choose via codes to play as the bosses, but you also get a special ending if you choose your team to include Kyo, Iori and the first boss: Kagura. The sequence actually makes sense when you consider the future KOF plotlines, and is not available on the original arcade version.
  • The now classic music theme for the Psycho Soldier team did not include lyrics on its original arcade incarnation.
  • The Game Boy version adds Mr. Karate from the Art of Fighting series as an unlock-able character.


  • Electronic Gaming Monthly
    • March 1997 (Issue 92) - Neo Geo Game of the Year + Neo Geo Game of the Year runner-up (Readers' Choice)

Related Web Sites

Contributed to by Fred VT (25908), Corn Popper (68841), mars_rulez (43795), Lain Crowley (6782), 666gonzo666 (66585), Rik Hideto (471358), yenruoj_tsegnol_eht (!!ihsoy) (2625), Kennyannydenny (126848), Sciere (816030), Zovni (10623), Kohler 86 (7958), Terok Nor (33093) and Cameron McCaffrey (423)
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