The King of Fighters 2000 & 2001 - Xbox

Also known as: The King of Fighters: The Saga Continues

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The King of Fighters 2000 & 2001 (Xbox)
Also for: PS2
Viewed: 2D Side-on, Scrolling Genre:
Beat 'Em Up
Media: CD Arcade origin:No
Developer: SNK Playmore Soft. Co.: SNK Playmore
Publishers: Ignition Entertainment (GB)
Released: 26 Nov 2004 (GB)
Ratings: PEGI 12+
Accessories: Xbox Memory Unit, Arcade Stick


SNK’s King Of Fighters series kicked off ten years ago, when the first instalment smashed onto the Neo Geo platform, the 16 bit console reserved for arcade halls and people with too much money. Although King of Fighters titles have been released previously in Japan for Dreamcast and PS2, in Europe we’ve only been treated to the cut-down GBA and Neo Geo Pocket versions.

Finally, after Ignition Entertainment signed a deal to publish SNK titles in PAL territories, the seminal beat ‘em up series will reach these shores. The first arrival is the King of Fighters 2000 and 2001 double-pack. Although, on the face of it, some will query the worth of a port of a game designed for a 16 bit system several years ago, the reputation of the series should guarantee a certain level of attention. After all, Neo Geo versions of King Of Fighters 2000 and 2001 now sell second-hand on certain well-known auction sites for around the $150 mark. So, such a reasonably priced double pack for XBox, although clearly less collectable than its chunky cartridge counterparts, could be deemed as rather good value.

There’s little room to criticise the nature of King of Fighters gameplay. You either love it or are entirely apathetic towards it. It is fair to say that, despite the faithful accuracy of the port, the graphics are inherently dated and unimpressive. However, a beat ‘em up as finely balanced and tuned as this is clearly all about the gameplay. On the surface, it all seems quite simple. It’s about familiarising yourself with the range of your chosen character’s moves before unleashing them in a well-timed manner in order to exploit the weakness of your opponent.

For fans of 2D fighting games, this double pack will offer a surprising amount of depth (surprising, that is, if you’ve not played them before). Some of 2001’s characters, Mei in particular, have some extraordinarily complicated special moves. And although these might be daunting to newcomers, they will seduce more ambitious fans of the genre who wish to display their slightly unhealthy aptitude for minutely choreographed digit twitches. Admittedly, the Xbox joypad can prove a little cumbersome for more delicate special moves, but frankly, any self-respecting beat ‘em up devotee (the sort who this game is targeted at) ought to have a pair of strapping arcade sticks somewhere close to hand anyway.

But the major addition, which elevates the Xbox version above all the other iterations, is the inclusion of Live online play. The genre is all about competition, and is universally understood to be most enjoyable as a 2 player game. So it’s great to see that even a (broadband-enabled) solitary hermit can now indulge in such activity, being thrashed and humiliated by strangers with impossibly well-trained fighting skills whenever they so desire. Magnificent!