In the years since its 1994 debut, The King of Fighters series has done much to define and refine 2D arcade fighting games. Sadly, the US arcade scene has been dying out, so most American fighting game fans haven't had the chance to sample some of the series' latest offerings. SNK Playmore's ongoing effort to bring its latest KOF titles to consoles has the potential to introduce the company's heavy-duty fighting series to a new generation of gamers while simultaneously appealing to those fans who have been pining for some arcade action.
The King of Fighters 2002 and 2003 (title not finalized) is a compilation featuring direct ports of the eponymous arcade games for the NeoGeo arcade hardware. Only the first of these was playable at the UK's EGN conference, and only on the PS2. The PS2 port of KOF2002 appeared to be a near-perfect arcade conversion, however, and this will likely also be the case with 2003, when its code is in a playable state. When the compilation is released, during the second quarter of next year, it will also appear on the Xbox, using its Live service to support online play. With any luck, the recent explosion of Live-enabled fighting games could become a substitute for the competitive arcade gaming of yesteryear. SNK Playmore may see it this way, as the publisher is apparently attempting to make Xbox Live support a standard feature for its upcoming fighting games.
Both the PS2 and Xbox versions of the compilation will be sold in the UK as budget titles, marked at about 20 pounds (approximately $35)--about half the cost of a full-priced game in the UK, though price points in other territories have not yet been revealed.