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The King of Fighters XII Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . While there's no doubt that SNK Playmore was on the right track with many of their changes to The King of Fighters XII, there just isn't enough in this package to warrant the high price tag. There aren't enough characters to choose from, the backgrounds repeat far too often, there's really only one game mode for single-players and the online is as bare bones as it comes. Better luck with The King of Fighters XIII! Rating: 57%
The King of Fighters XII
The King of Fighters XII The King of Fighters XII The King of Fighters XII The King of Fighters XII
  • Review Score:

  • C+
Mere months after Capcom successfully managed to reboot the Street Fighter franchise, here is SNK Playmore doing the same thing with their longest running fighting game series. With a new graphic style, a few noticeable gameplay changes and a brand new line-up of characters, The King of Fighters desperately wants to be relevant. Unfortunately there is far too little in this package to get excited about, especially with the uncharacteristically strong competition coming from all sides.

Fifteen years ago SNK had an idea, what if they took two of popular (albeit mediocre) franchises and turned them into one three-on-three fighting game for the ages. Believe it or not, the idea worked. Fatal Fury and Art of Fighting were reborn as The King of Fighters, which also included characters from Ikari Warriors and Psycho Soldier, two other SNK arcade games. Here we are 15 years later and we're now 12 games into the series (15 if you include the Neowave and Maximum Impact spin-offs). In those years we've seen new characters added, new storylines told and some truly amazing fights. In a lot of ways The King of Fighters XII does a good job of keeping the spirit of the series alive.

The King of Fighters XII (XBOX 360)

The King of Fighters XII offers 22 different characters, including a number of fan favorites. You get Terry and Andy Bogard, Joe Higashi, Mature, Iori, Kyo, Ash, Goro and a number of other familiar faces. In fact, the only brand new character in the line-up is Raiden, the large wrestler from the original Fatal Fury and 3 Count Bout.

Interestingly enough, it's not who is in the game that is worth mentioning, but rather who is NOT in the game. The most notable absents seems to be Mai Shiranui, easily the most popular female fighter in the SNK universe. Also missing are a few of my favorite characters, including the Garou Team (Gato, B. Jenet and Tizoc), the Geese Howard team (Billy Kane, Blue Mary, Mr. Big, etc.), Seth, Vanessa and Wolfgang Krauser. It's not that they've been replaced with better characters, but rather that they are just missing in action.

The King of Fighters XII (XBOX 360)

I'll admit that much of that last paragraph was the very definition of "geeky." But by the time you've made it to the twelfth game isn't that to be expected? The core audience for this series is largely made up of gamers like me who have played many (if not all) of the installments, finding teams and characters that kept you interested in the three-on-three battles. This game can't seem to decide if it's trying to cater to all of the old fans or trying to attract a bunch of new players. In either case, it doesn't have enough of the beloved characters from the past to satisfy old timers like myself and it makes no attempt to bring new players in. And that's the problem with The King of Fighters XII; it can't decide what it wants to be.

Did I mention that The King of Fighters XII only has 22 characters? It's true, you didn't just imagine that. While two dozen may sound like a lot for some series, that's nothing for The King of Fighters franchise. This is a series that routinely has three and four dozen characters to choose from, while this 2009 installment doesn't even hit two dozen. In comparison, the last installment had more than 40 characters to choose from, many of which were brand new. Heck, even the game's first installment had more characters than The King of Fighters XII. For a game that requires you to choose three characters at a time, 22 isn't enough to truly satisfy the hardcore fan.
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