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2D tag team fighting game series created by SNK and one of SNK's most popular series. Not only is the series popular in its home country, but it is notably very popular amongst fans in Latin American territories and the Carribean. In response, SNK has included Latin American characters as fighters in the series. The original game debuted in 1994. It has also been adapted into an English language live action film as well as multiple Japanese and Chinese manga.
The games are a crossover of the various SNK developed franchises combined with original characters. The series has become popular enough that some characters who aren't originally from King of Fighters are more famous for their roles in this series. The game's original characters like Yagami Iori and Kusanagi Kyo have also become SNK icons. The series is one of the earliest and longest running crossover fighting game franchises.
The series has an ongoing storyline that is split into multiple arcs: the Rugal (KOF 94), Orochi (KOF 95-97), NESTS (KOF 99-2002), Ash (KOF 2003-13). Each story arc focuses on a different set of protagonists and antagonists but old characters usually remain as playable characters and have some involvement in the narrative. In between the story arcs, there are non canon games that bring back almost every character to date even if they were killed during the storyline. Each game uses 2D sprites except the Maximum Impact spinoff series, which uses 3D graphics and arenas. King of Fighters XIV also uses 3D graphics but retains the 2D tag gameplay.
Characters are organized into teams of 3. In most games, a round ends when one of the characters is knocked out and replaced by another team member for the next round. Players decide in which order the characters will fight. The match ends when an entire team is knocked out or time runs out during the last round. Some entries in the series allow players to switch characters on the fly or use characters as an assist but the mechanics are different from the Marvel vs. Capcom style tag team action.
The characters are often given stylized and trendier costumes in contrast to fellow fighting game series Street Fighter. Certain characters like Remy and Crimson Viper from the Street Fighter series are often considered to be SNK-ish or King of Fighters-esque characters due to their comparatively trendier outfits in contrast to most of the other Street Fighter characters. The series also has a higher quotient of androgynously beautiful men.
The series is also a notable example of SNK's tendency to include extremely difficult and powerful final bosses, many of who have become infamous purely for how much difficulty players have beating them.
The series was originally intended to be tag-team crossover 2d beat em up game as opposed to a competitive 2d fighting game. The Fatal Fury and Ryuuko no Ken characters were meant to be part of the series from the beginning and the original 2d beat em up also had the 3-player team style gameplay that the final product would become known for. However, after Capcom's Final Fight was released, the developers became concerned that what would become KOF 94 would be seen as too similar to Final Fight so they redesigned it as a fighting game.
The series is a very large influence on the Chinese online fighting game Xuan Dou Zhi Wang and many characters from said game strongly resemble the KOF cast in appearance and fighting styles. However, SNK and the Xuan Dou Zhi Wang's developers Tencent came to an agreement and the former has allowed Terry Bogard and Benimaru Nikaidou to join Xuan Dou Zhi Wang's cast.
Debuted in KOF 94:
Mature_(KOF) 1st appeared in 94 as NPC
KOF EX 2:
KOF Maximum Impact:
KOF Maximum Impact 2:
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