There are some truths that you should always live by. You will always pay too much in taxes. Work should not control your life. And King of Fighters never changes. Oh sure, between King of Fighter '95 and '96 some of the animation changed, but the moves are all basically the same in every single game, and nothing really changes as far as the game goes. However, people seem to come and go in this world of King of Fighters. And that is the reason for so many of these games, seven all included.
To be completely fair, King of Fighters is essentially an arcade game, and should not be judged as anything but. And it is SNK's trademark to not change what isn't broke, even if it has been five years since a revision. The home version of King of Fighters, well, at least the two Pocket versions, are more of a "home version" of the theme. However, for arcade owners, they are getting a cheap upgrade to a game that has already proven successful. What could be better than that?
The graphics up until 1996 were nice hand drawn, not extremely adventurous, using the basic themes set in games like Art of Fighting and Fatal Fury. However, in 1996 King of Fighters got a face lift, and became even better than before. The new hand drawn backgrounds were stunning, some rivaling anything Capcom's done recently. Each was extremely detailed, but at the same time told a whole story without saying a word.
The sounds pretty much never changed, each character retaining their yells and taunts. The music is pretty dull, no matter how you look at it. It's moderate arcade music that has a funny way of getting under your skin.
Where King of Fighters excels is the massive amount of playable, diverse characters. Even before Capcom started teaming their fighters up to see who was the better (my bet will always be on Strider), SNK was teaming the Art of Fighting combatants and the Fatal Fury kids with the Ikari Troupe ... all representing a different game SNK developed. I must say, this was always intriguing, and I wished more companies would do things like this. However, as much as I like this game, it seems like they have missed a wonderful oppurtunity to cross some of the Samurai Shodown, or Last Blade characters into the King of Fighters universe.
This series has just improved over time, however subtly. And while it's not Street Fighter II, it isn't Time Killers, either. I wish there was more to it, but each of the games is fun to play.
There is also a review for each of the games individually, however, the review on top stands as the review for the SET