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SummaryThe King of Cheapness '95 only gets worse on a Cd-based platform
The GoodThis Kof introduces the "team edit" mode, which finally makes it able to enjoy the series unique (at it's time) team fighting concept. There aren't many changes in the rooster (it has exactly the same number of teams) but the few that were made are good, and include (as it's only appearance in KOF) the ninja dude from AOF, Iori for the first time, and even Billy Kane. And thankfully, the USA team is not present.
The BadWell, first of all I want to tackle what I feel are problems of the game itself and then the port.
KoF '95 is an extremely cheap game, period. Right from the start you know it's not gonna be a joyride since this is merely Kof '94 with new (not more) characters and different backgrounds. Sure, you've got the new "storyline" but let's get serious here folks, the game itself has had no changes and it shows, primarily on it's dated look (most fighters have the same face!) and game mechanics. Now, before we get into the issue of game mechanics I have to introduce to you to SNK.
Deciding to make 2D fighters as it's main titles, SNK knew invariably that it was dooming itself to live under the shadow of Capcom, and that all games that it made would always be regarded as cheap clones of Street Fighter, Final Fight, etc. Not nesesarily because they were better, but because they were first. For that reason they have been constantly adding to their games stupid "brand new" features in an effort to make them stand out, these include the stupid and ankward pseudo 3D foreground/background system of the Fatal Furys, the pseudo rpg aproach of the Art of Fightings, and of course...the interface of the King of Fighters. The interface includes a series of "features" that work when you press a series of buttons at the same time for all characters, these include: dodging, charging up power, a knock-down heavy attack, and taunting. Now let's tackle each one in turn. Dodging sounds like a swell idea, but you'll soon find out why no other game has ever adopted it. It renders all projectile and long-range attacks useless! gone is the "throw a fireball and attack overhead or wait till your enemy jumps it" every strategic thought is replaced by a "let's hope I hit him first and chain something from that point on" and while that mentality can help you on games like Tekken, it does nothing for you here, and this brings me to the next feature: What is the mindset behind the game? Power management pure and simple. Charging up your power bar eventually brings you to a "Max" state which lasts about 7-10 seconds and which makes you move faster, hit harder and allows you to make "super moves" (which by the way, are nothing "super"...more on that later) thus the novice player will soon find out that it doesn't pay to develop a strategy based on specific moves and styles. All you really have to do is power up, and hit your enemy in any way you can, since the game balancing rewards a succesful "powered-up" knock-down hit over a series of combos. The game depends on this so much, that the taunt feature actually serves as a way of lowering your foe's power bar, so as you can see, most of the fighting in the game consists of merely managing your power bar (which can be realistic, depending on who you talk to, but certainly not fun). Add to that mentality the "dodge" feature and you get a very technically oriented game, which is challenging yes, but not fun. Also you have to remember that the game uses the "desperation" system, in which your super moves only dish out some REAL damage when you are about to die, meaning: you are supposed to know every single move and nuance by heart since everything literally forces you to an "all or nothing" since you can't afford to fail.
All that stuff will remain for quite a while a mainstay of the Kof's and it's why I don't enjoy them too much.
To add more flavor to the dish you have Rugal. Now, SNK has brought over itself a reputation for making cheap ultra-powerful bosses that are simply no fun to fight against, and Rugal is one of the reasons this has happened. We are still nowhere near Orochi or *shivers* Goenitz, but its still tremendously annoying and takes all the fun out of solo play.
Regarding the conversion itself, I have to point two other things that would remain forever in the psx Kof games: control and load times. The control seems tremendously unforgiving to me, perhaps you really need to play the game with an arcade stick to apreciate it, but quite frankly, using the gamepads will bring you a step closer to suicide. However, you'll have plenty of time to cool down and think about what you are doing during the loading times, which can take up to 5 minutes between fights. Great, huh?