The King of Fighters XII review

  • Superb scrapping
  • Wonderful retro stylings
  • Simple, competitive online tracking
  • Almost feels like a trial version
  • Not enough characters
  • Not the highest-res graphics

Welcome to your own personal time machine – you can pick any year you like, as long as it’s... 1995. Bizarrely, we mean this in the best possible way; the mid-nineties were a golden age for 2D fighters and everything that made them – and SNK – great is right here. Massive sprites, baseball stadiums to fight in… and just when you think it can’t get any more retro-tastic, a cheesy guitar solo in the vein of Sega’s Victory Goal plays over the end credits. Marvelous.

Matches are three-on-three bouts and the winner stays on with a slight health boost until one team is completely eliminated. After each win, you get the option of one replay so you can try to do it again with a better clear time. Clear all six stages and register your time online. And that’s it. Either you’ll see that as too basic or as SNK genius whittling the game down to the purest essence of challenge. Beat the world, then beat yourself. What more do you need? Well...

...for most gamers, the answer is a lot. But for hardcore fans, it’s nothing. Silky-smooth and perfectly weighted, the game plays like a dream. There’s a Street Fighter-style focus move, the equivalent of Ultra attacks and a delicious assortment of intuitive and deep offensive and counter moves, which are as finely balanced as Capcom’s masterpiece.

However, the problem here is the competition. There’s no way we can recommend this over SFIV by a very long chalk, seeing as Capcom equals or betters it in every department before KoF has even thrown a punch. The number of characters, stages, modes… this really does feel like a shell in comparison. It doesn’t matter how many extra characters and stages are coming as DLC, the fact remains that even Street Fighter II Turbo HD is preferable, being cheaper than this, more accessible to newbies and with higher resolution character sprites.

Playing King of Fighters XII is like having one last go on that wonder-machine in the corner of the arcade from your childhood. And it’s sad in a way that it’s still fighting for things the rest of the world has long forgotten – scaling sprites, smoother animation. No matter how proud this latest installment stands or how loud it roars, it’s still a dinosaur.

Jul 27, 2009

More Info

Release date: Jul 28 2009 - Xbox 360, PS3 (US)
Aug 28 2009 - Xbox 360, PS3 (UK)
Available Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3
Genre: Fighting
Published by: Ignition Entertainment
Developed by: SNK Playmore
Franchise: King of Fighters
ESRB Rating:
PEGI Rating:

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  • Japanjack - July 29, 2009 1:20 a.m.

    I'm personally impressed by the graphics, but extremely disappointed by the modes and characters. Where is Survival? Where is the story? Where is 'BUSTER WOLF!!!!!!!!!!'? So many things missing. . . Where is K'? This game is the largest disappointment I've bought this year.. Perhaps it's better suited to be a $15 downloadable, perhaps the fact that I spent $60 dollars and thought I was getting a full game was what disappointed me. SNK really needs to learn! I thought that the release of great fighters such as Street Fighter IV and BlazBlue would make SNK Playmore realize something, but they remain ignorant! This many be the last KOF game I buy.... And KOF was one of my very favorite fighting series. How terribly sad. ARE YOU OKAY? BUSTER WOLF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Makk_Mizzy - July 28, 2009 5:40 a.m.

    The last fighting game I told myself I would buy was SF4 and with all these wacka$$ fighting games they keep bringing out there will be no game better than SF4 unless they make a Killer Instinct with SF4 graphics and all of the fighters from the Killer Instint Gold Edition! Street Fighter is the best fighting game other than Marvel Vs. Capcom 2, I only recommend America to play only those 2!
  • waynski1457 - July 27, 2009 10:42 p.m.

    As shallow as it is, I kind of agree with evnewell. This is a sprite-based game coming out for HD consoles. It really should look like (skipping obvious pun) an absolute sight to behold. The review states it nicely how it pales compared to the newest SF offerings, even SFIIHDR.
  • sadisticgrizzz - August 31, 2009 12:18 a.m.

    what the hell is this?? i just played it and this game feels like kof 1/2. it has no business being a game in stores but may pass 4 a xbox live arcade for around 800 points.
  • evnewell - July 28, 2009 4:20 p.m.

    SF 4 is great - and probably the best of it's kind this generation, but it isn't the best. I really feel that capcom was on to something with SF3:third strike and Alpha 3. There is a certain texture, or weight to those games (acknowledging the two are very different) in terms of how they play, and SF4 doesn't quite have it. Still an awesome game, but SF4 reminds me too much of SF EX - albeit a better EX. BTW, thanks Cyberninja - enlightening comment.
  • Cyberninja - July 27, 2009 9:09 p.m.

    BB has the higher score evnewell you read the review you decide what you want
  • evnewell - July 27, 2009 9:04 p.m.

    hmm, love KoF, and I love Guilty Gear. But now that KoF XII is going up against BlazBlue, I think I might find more room in my heart for Blazblue. "Not the highest res graphics"???? You know, I'm here to see the HIGHEST res graphics. I know there's much more to fighters - and games in general - than graphics, but I have a feeling BB is going to kill KoF in the graphics deptartment. Sounds like BB is winning...

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