Over the past two years SNK playmore has been doing their best to try and make all of their older Neo Geo games available for todays gaming masses. We have seen releases like SNK Arcade Claissics Volume 1, Metal Slug Anthology, and Samurai Showdown Collection. This time around SNK has partnered up with Ingition Entertainment to bring us the ultimate edtion of The King of Fighters 98′ on the Playstation 2.
98′ is considered by many King of Fighters (KoF) fans to be the best version, The King of Fighters 98′ Ultimate Match is the first time that 98′ has been released on the PS2 and it has more content than any other version available. Lets take a look.
KoF 98′ Ultimate Match is obviously based off of a 1998 2D fighting engine. All of the characters and backgrounds are hand drawn just like the series is known for. I would imagine that in 1998 they looked pretty good, but by today’s standards and especially in the wake of Street Fighter IV, the game looks really dated.
Way back in 1999 the game was released on the Sega Dreamcast with both the original 2D backgrounds and 3D backgrounds. I’m happy to report that in the Ultimate Match edition both background versions are available and gamers can choose which one they want to use from the options menu. To be honest though, there really isn’t that much of a difference in the two options.
The sound is exactly what you would expect from a KoF or Street Fighter game. The characters all make their own fighting yells and grunts and the music is largely there just to fill up the background. There really isn’t anything to take note of in the sound department. The sound is servicable. True fighting game fans all recommend the use of an arcade style joystick. To that end, the PS2 has plenty of them available and they should all work with KoF 98′. If all you have is the dual shock controller then you should be set too. The buttons are laid out almost exactly like any other fighter on the PS2 so don’t expect any surprises here.
The King of Fighter 98′ Ultimate Match is a 3-on-3 arcade fighter. Gamers pick three characters for their team and try to make their way up the fighting ladder to be named the King of Fighters. Players get to pick their team and the fighting order of each team member. Once any player is knocked out, the next player enters the fight. The team with the last player standing wins. The 2D fighting play mechanic in the KoF series is considered by many to be one of the best around and 98′ is no different. Expect plenty of jumping kicks, counters, blocks and energy balls to be thrown around.
What sets Ultimate Match apart from its previous versions is the inclusion of the Ultimate Mode. Previous versions of the game included advanced and extra mode, making players choose which mode they wanted to use. Each mode uses different methods of evasion, movement and power gauges. Whereas Ultimate Mode allows the player to mix and match the various play styles of both Extra and Advanced Mode, giving the player even more control over thier preferred play style.
The other notable addition to the Ultimate Match version is the inclusion of 9 new fighters to KoF 98′, bringing the total up to 64 playable characters. It’s almost an overwhelming amount of characters to choose from and, to date, it is the most characters available in any 2D fighting game.
The game features two player multiplayer, but no online play. Given that this is a game from 1998, online play wasn’t really expected to be added in anyway.
SNK also included the original King of Fighters 98′ Neo Geo arcade edition on the disk as a playable option. This version is stripped down from the Ultimate Match version and is mostly there for the nastolgia.
King of Fighters 98′ Ultimate Match is budget priced at $19.99. For any fan of the King of Fighters series that is a real bargain, especially considering that this is the first time that 98′ has been released on the hugely successfull PS2 platform.
Other fighting gamers may not get their $19.99 out of the game since it is based on an 11 year old game and there are so many other fighters out there. Your best bet would be to wait until KoF 12 comes out in the near future.