The King of Fighters ’96 (Review) Playstation 3

The King of Fighters ’96 (Review) Playstation 3
Review Score:

The King of Fighters ’96 was a turning point for the KOF series. It introduced new play mechanics and the Orochi storyline. Fan favorites like Billy Kane and Eiji were removed from the character roster and Mature and Vice took their place alongside Iori.

The popular boss team made its first and only appearance and was comprised of Southtown boss Geese Howard, his brother Krauser, and Mr. Big of Art of Fighting fame. This team was a match made in heaven for SNK fighting fans. Other changes to the roster also occurred. Kasumi Todo from Art of Fighting 3 replaced Yuri Sakazaki from the lady’s team and Leona replaced her father, Heidern, as the leader of the Ikari Warriors team. Additionally, Yuri replaced her father, Takuma, in the Art of Fighting team.

There are eight teams in all, including Team Italy (Terry Bogard, Andy Bogard and Joe Higashi) and Team Japan (Kyo Kasanagi, Benimaru, and Goro Daimon). The team edit function that was introduced in KOF ’95 is also present.

The core play mechanics that made the series a success are present in KOF ’96, with a few exceptions. The ability to side-step an attack has been replaced with a roll. Even SDMs have been properly balanced out so players can’t kill an opponent with almost a full health bar.

While KOF ’98 is considered a fan favorite for being a ‘Dream Match’, KOF ’96 happens to be another worthy sequel in the series. The fighting feels less sluggish than KOF ’95 and the in-game atmosphere is more energetic. Since the fighting is more balanced, versus play is actually more enjoyable in a competitive setting.

Like all NEOGEO Station releases, KOF ’96 offers online play via Quick Match and Match Search sessions.  There is also an option to create your own match and invite friends. During online matches, server latency seems to vary greatly based on region settings. Playing matches outside your region can sometimes have unpredictable results.

For gamers looking to keep track of their matches, a replay feature is included. Replays can be accessed through the main menu. Depending on the length of the replay, there is an option to fast-forward through the footage.

Neo-Geo games have always been known for their incredibly detailed 2D graphics.  Even in HD on the Playstation 3, The King of Fighters ’96 looks beautiful. The detail on the sprites still impresses after all these years. The muscles on the fighters flex and stretch as they fight, and their outfits flop, sway, and wrinkle down to the smallest of details. And yes, there is jiggle in case Mai fans want to know.

As SNK-PLAYMORE releases KOF in chronological order, we get to see how the series progressed throughout the years. From its humble beginnings as a 16-bit fighter to its re-release on modern console hardware, KOF continues to deliver competitive 2D fighting on a serious level.  The King of Fighters ’96 shouldn’t be overlooked by any gamer that is serious about fighting games.

Mike Pittaro
Playstation 3 (Available on PSN / Also available for PSP)
ESRB: T (Teen)
Price: $8.99 ($7.19 Playstation Plus)


Review Score
Despite their age, the 2D graphics look impressive in HD.
Some of the best music in a classic fighting game.
The gameplay is smoother and faster than previous releases.
Fans of the genre will not be disappointed.
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