Our Nostalgic Games: King of Fighters ’98

KOF 98 - Famitsu Header Image

(The following is a translation from the 06/14/2018 issue of Famitsu magazine, from a regular column called “ore tachi no natsu gee ~Retro Gamer zadankai~”, or “Our Nostalgic Games ~Retro Gamer Round-table~”)

Our Nostalgic Games ~Retro Gamer Round-table~ #185

Editors passionately discussing games playable on modern hardware that are just as good as they’ve ever been!

Arcade Archives Neo Geo (PS4) – The King of Fighters ’98

SNK’s masterpiece fighting game. With the Orochi Saga concluded in KOF 97, this game is a culmination of the series so far, featuring a ton of characters.

Original Release Year: 1998

Hardware: Arcade

Date of Digital Release: 1/11/2018

Maker: Hamster

This Week’s Participants

Shinnosuke: A nice guy who got into arcade games in the late 90s. He’s used Leona throughout every entry in the KOF series that she’s appeared in.

Hatoya Itou: Comes to us from Nagano, and not too familiar with arcade games. He doesn’t know much about KOF, but he loves Kyo Kusanagi.

Giant Kuroda: He played a lot of KOF with his friends, growing up in Hiroshima. His main character throughout the series has been Iori Yagami.

This masterpiece is hailed as being the peak of the KOF series

A Celebrated Number of Playable Fighters!

(Shinnosuke) “Your body is…weak!” (Kyo says “Body ga…amai ze!” when he executes Aragami, one of his special moves)

(Kuroda) We’re starting things off with quite a bang, aren’t we?

(Shinnosuke) “I’m taking over…your body!” (“Body ga….orusuban da ze!” is yet another Kyo quote)

(Hayato) Shinnosuke, stop pretending to be Kyo Kusanagi, and let’s move on to the topic at hand.

(Shinnosuke) You guys aren’t very excited! This time around we’re covering a game that I have fond memories of from my school days, KOF 98, so I wish you’d be a little bit more excited! So with that, let’s get get right into a match.

(Hayato) Seeing the character select screen again now, there really are a ton of characters to choose from.

(Kuroda) Nearly all of the main characters from KOF 94 through 97 appear here, don’t they?

(Shinnosuke) Characters like Rugal and Saisyu Kusanagi couldn’t appear in the story as fighters. So I’m very happy that KOF 98 has no story, so that it can basically be an all-star cast. As you can see there are 38 characters on the character select screen. But some of the characters (like Terry, Yashiro, etc.) have different abilities if you hold start (Option on a PS4 controller) while selecting them, so in practice there are 50 characters to choose from.

(Hayato) I never knew that this game had a gimmick like that.

(Kuroda) Back in my hometown we’d call the standard versions of those characters the “front”, and the special versions the “back”. Hayato’s beloved Kyo Kusanagi would get his super moves from KOF 95 if you picked the “back” version.

(Shinnosuke) Kuroda, I know those expressions too. In my hometown we also called them “front” and “back” (Laughs). Anyway, our introductory banter was a bit long, but let’s start the match!

The Characters’ Moods Influence The Outcome!?

(Kuroda) I’m going with Kyo Kusanagi, Clark (my favorite grappler), and my main: Iori Yagami.

(Shinnosuke) I’m going with Leona (who I use in every entry in the series), Joe, and “Ryosaka”.

(Kuroda) What is “Ryosaka”?

(Shinnosuke) It’s a shortened version of Ryo Sakazaki’s name, of course! That’s what we called him back in my hometown!

(Hayato) I feel like it would actually just be shorter to call him “Ryo”, but…

(Shinnosuke) Shut up! I’m going to pick my character order now. Hmmm…

(Kuroda) Hmmm…

(Hayato) ? What’s with you two? For some reason you’re both making very concerned faces on the character order select screen…

(Kuroda) We’re checking our characters’ moods. See those icons that appear to the left and right of the characters?

(Hayato) What are they?

(Kuroda) The mood determine how much of your power gauge (the special gauge used for super moves) is transferred over to the next character when the character you’re using is defeated.

(Shinnosuke) If they’re in a bad mood then the power gauge decreases by one bar, but if they’re in a good mood then it increases by one bar.

(Hayato) You don’t need to worry about something like that so much!

(Shinnosuke) In a close match, one bar of meter can be the difference between life and death! Especially since Leona is very meter dependent (grumble)

(Hayato) At least you’re being honest about it (Laughs)

(Shinnosuke) I’m explaining all of this while playing, but KOF 98 doesn’t have as many complicated systems as other fighting games, and the combos are fairly simple to perform. Koouken! (the name of Ryo’s fireball)

(Kuroda) Ow! It’s true: Even I, who don’t have much experience with fighting games, can easily pull off super moves in KOF 98. Now for the final blow with a Frankensteiner (a move of Clark’s)!

(Shinnosuke) You’re pretty good Kuroda. You’ll be able to have a lot fun playing matches in this game if you get the strong attack -> special move -> super move pattern down. Yep, right there. I’m just going to anti-air that jump with a Kohou (Ryo’s special move uppercut)!

(Kuroda) Shinnosuke, you’re one strange guy!

(Shinnosuke) …

(Kuroda) …

(Hayato) You’re both way too serious!!