The King of Fighters 2002 & 2003 E3 2004 Preshow Impressions

The two latest 2D games to bear The King of Fighters name are coming to the PS2 in one package.

While Capcom has widely been considered the preeminent master of the 2D fighting game, many hardcore fighting fans swear by SNK’s catalog. For nearly a decade now, The King of Fighters series, which has featured a cross-section of characters from many of SNK’s other fighting games, has been one of the most renowned. The two most recent installments, The King of Fighters 2002 and The King of Fighters 2003, originally called the arcade their home and will soon appear in a single package on the PlayStation 2.

The King of Fighters 2002 serves as a sort of greatest-hits package and will feature all 39 playable characters found in The King of Fighters ’96 through 2001, including fan favorites such as Terry Bogard, Iori, and Mai. Of these 39 fighters, six will be hidden from the start, and you’ll be able to select a team of three of the characters for each fight. Each character will have a unique arsenal of moves at his or her disposal, and super special moves, along with an upgraded max-on power system, will ensure that the action is both fast and furious.

Alternately, The King of Fighters 2003 will take the series in a slightly new direction and will make some notable changes to the usually steadfast formula of the series. You’ll now be able to select a team leader using the game’s new tactical leader system, and the new multishift system will allow you to change your active fighter on the fly. Up until now, The King of Fighters games have been strictly 2D, and though the characters themselves will remain sprite-based in KOF 2003, you can expect the action to take place on 10 brand-new 3D backgrounds.

Like last year's The King of Fighters 2000/2001 package for the PlayStation 2, The King of Fighters 2002 & 2003 looks like it could be a must-have package for fans of SNK's long-running 2D fighting series. This anthology is currently set for a late 2004 release, though you can expect more coverage of it from GameSpot in the near future.

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