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How to get the best King of Fighters storyline experience
Among the many things I love about The King of Fighters, the story and the way it’s presented is a big draw for me. Unlike other fighting games that have only in recent years started to tell their stories coherently, The King of Fighters has always had a consistent storyline and subplots. Experiencing that plot to its fullest, however, requires some time. While every canon King of Fighters game elaborates its story with several endings (with the exception of KOF 13), they never give an in-game prologue, and there are several sub-plots that have little relevance to the main plotlines.
You could just play through the games and see the endings however you feel like, but if you do that, the story will be less coherent and the games will reference events that aren’t elaborated in-game. In my experience, there’s a certain way to play through the games in conjunction with supplementary reading material to make it feel more like one long video game epic instead of just a series of fighting games with differing character rosters.
With this step-by-step guide, you will get the most out of a playthrough of the King of Fighters storyline, through every game from ’96 to 13. You will experience the core of the game’s story and a sense of completion, with just about everything important explained up until the most recent game, with fast-paced brawls along the way.
However, a good KOF experience does not start with King of Fighters 94 and 95. Their stories are important to the plot, but the broken combat and cheating AI is so unbearable they aren’t worth your time or effort and may in fact turn you off to the franchise. Instead, I suggest replicating the finale of the games in a different way by using The King of Fighters ’98, which isn’t a part of the story, but has the same final boss (in design) as ’95.
Some of the games will require multiple playthroughs to get the full story, but because they are so fun and the story so fantastical, that shouldn’t be an issue as long as you take each one step at a time. It’s a story of clones, gods, deception, time travel, heroes, villains, and magic! There will be a lot of reading and a lot of fighting, so it’s best to prepare for the action-packed martial arts action of The King of Fighters!
KOF 94 & 95
- On SNK Playmore’s official KOF history website, go to the team story index of King of Fighters 94 and read the Japan Team section in the story index.
- Move on to the story section of King of Fighters 95 and read the story index for the Japan Team and the Rival Team.
- Play through King of Fighters ’98 using Kyo, Benimaru, and Daimon.
- On the King of Fighters ’96 team story index of SNK Playmore's official site, read the entries for the Hero Team, Yagami Team, and Boss Team.
- Play through the game using Kyo, Benimaru, and Daimon and view their ending.
- Play through the game using Chizuru, Kyo, and Iori and view their ending.
- In the KOF ’97 team story index, read the entries for the Hero Team, New Face Team, and Shingo Yabuki.
- Play through the game with Kyo and Shingo on your team (the third member can be anyone) and view the ending.
- Play through the game using Kyo, Chizuru, and Iori and view the ending (the bosses seem to ramp up their difficulty when using them, so you may want to lower it to avoid frustration).
Because the KOF character designs in it are all from the first five games, at this point it would be a good time to play through Capcom vs. SNK 2, now available on the Playstation Network.
- In the KOF ‘99 story index, read the entry for the Hero Team, Ikari Team, and Kyo Kusanagi.
- Play through the game using K’, Maxima, Benimaru, and Shingo. Try to get 280 points or more. Because of Krizalid’s extreme difficulty, that probably won’t happen, but it’s not very crucial.
- Optionally, play through the game with Ralf, Leona, Clark, and Whip for their ending. While not significant in the grand scheme of things, their ending does relate to a plot point in K’’s story.
- On the KOF 2000 story index, read the entries for Benimaru’s team and the Hero Team.
- Play through the game using K’, Ramon, Vanessa, and Maxima and view their ending.
- Play through the game using Benimaru, Seth, Lin, and Shingo, and view their ending.
- On the KOF 2001 story index, read the entries for the Japan Team, NESTS Team, Yagami Team, and Hero Team.
- Play through the game using K’, Lin, Maxima, and Whip, and view their ending.
Because King of Fighters 2002 is not a part of the storyline, you can skip it.
- Read the team story on the official site for the Ikari Team, 3 Sacred Treasures Team, and Hero Team.
- Play through the game using Ralf, Leona, and Clark. While playing with them, do not finish off the boss at the middle of the game with a super special attack. Do that, and you will get the bad ending, which is both plot-important and has its own boss.
- Play through the game using Ash Crimson, Duo Lon, and Shen Woo and finish off the boss at the middle of the game using a super special attack in order to view their true ending at the end of the game.
- Do the same thing as the previous, but using Kyo, Iori, and Chizuru (the same as in ’97) instead.
- On the anniversary site’s KOF 11 team story index, read the story section for the Hero, Rival, Ikari, and Kyo & Iori Teams, as well as the three stories labeled in purple font.
- Play through the game using Ash, Shen, and Oswald and view their ending.
- In one way or another, be it through online media or unlocking them yourself by playing the game with each team, view the team endings in this order after viewing the Hero team’s ending: Kyo & Iori, Elizabeth, Ikari. Viewing them all one after the other is much more cohesive.
King of Fighters 12 has no plot and should not be purchased under any circumstance.
The latest is readily available.
- In the story section of Atlus’ official King of Fighters 13 website, read the entries for Ash, Team Japan, Team Yagami, and Team Elizabeth.
- Play through the story mode of the console version with Team Elizabeth.
- Do not lose any matches in story mode in order to get the true ending.
King of Fighters 13’s arcade mode endings for each team details the aftermath of the true ending, but are not important.
Follow these steps and get the most out of your game time with The King of Fighters. After finishing the main story outlined here, you can go back and play through sub-plots that span the entirety of the series, such as Kim Kaphwan’s criminal reformation program, pop singer Athena Asamiya’s fight against evil with her friends, and the Kyokugen dojo’s troubles. There’s all kinds of different stories to tell in The King of Fighters. Hopefully with the completion of these steps, you will come to love The King of Fighters the way I do.