Beta testing of The King of Fighters NeoWave, SNK Playmore's first release on the Atomiswave arcade platform, has begun in Osaka, Japan. The game keeps the traditional 2D gameplay and graphics that have marked the series since its inception almost a decade ago.
According to reports by beta testers, The King of Fighters NeoWave is returning to the previous system of three-on-three fighting seen before KOF 2003, where the first player to beat the opponent for three rounds wins. The King of Fighters NeoWave plays with the same character graphics as previous releases on the NeoGeo platform, but its background graphics are drawn in high-resolution 2D using the more advanced capabilities of the Atomiswave. The game's character animations, movements, and voices seem to be mostly ported from The King of Fighters 2002. One example of this is Athena, who wears the same outfit from KOF 2002 despite being known as a character who wears a different costume in each annual release of the game.
At the time of testing, the game's roster consisted of characters from previous titles in the series, and since then no new characters have been confirmed. While NeoWave's shift toward the Atomiswave platform has enhanced the game's background graphics, it seems that the change also has a negative side. Beta testers have reported that the game has a few seconds of what seems to be load time before the match begins, and some additional brief lag has been observed in between the rounds. However, the graphics, systems, and other parts of the game may be modified before the final product comes out. The King of Fighters NeoWave is not scheduled for release until the summer, so this beta testing is being held relatively early.
The controls in The King of Fighters NeoWave are basically the same as in previous releases of the series--two buttons are used for punches and kicks of different strengths. There is an additional button added to the game, which you can use to toggle a new "heat mode" where your character's attacks are powered up in exchange for a gradual loss of health. Evacuation rolling is present in the game, and thrust attacks--which were taken out of KOF 2003--are also back. Both the evacuation rolling and thrust attacks can be done from guarding positions.
In The King of Fighters NeoWave, you will have a choice of three different fighting modes; each comes with its own distinct system and number of power stocks. Attacking or guarding can fill up power stocks, but they also recover to their maximum capacity at the end of each round. Power stocks can be used for super attacks, which can be executed at normal strength by consuming one stock or at maximum strength with two stocks.
In super cancel mode, you'll be able to do super cancels, where you can execute a special move and follow it along with a super attack. You'll be able to carry up to three power stocks in super cancel mode. In guard break mode, you'll have the ability to perform an attack that can break the opponent's guard and open the opponent up for additional damage. You'll also be able to do "just defense" blocking, a technical defense maneuver first introduced by Garou: Mark of the Wolves. In KOF NeoWave's just defense, if you succeed in blocking your opponent's attacks when your opponent is just about to hit you, you can guard any kind of attack without receiving damage or getting pushed back. Your guarding time will also be reduced, so you'll have a chance to counter your opponent. Unlike in Garou, you won't receive any life recovery bonus when you succeed in doing a just defense. Thrust attacks out of a guard cannot be done in guard break mode. You can also only carry up to two power stocks in this mode.
In MAX 2 mode, you'll only have one stock of power meter, but it fills up automatically. You can only do normal supers with your power stock in this mode, but you can execute a maximum-strength super attack or an alternate super attack called MAX 2 with your power stock if your life becomes low. Players familiar with KOF 2002 should recognize MAX 2 supers as the unlisted, last-resort attacks in the game. You also can't do evacuation rolls in MAX 2 mode.
The character roster in The King of Fighters NeoWave is as follows:
- Japan Team - Kyo, Benimaru, Daimon
- Iori Team - Iori, Mature, Vice
- K' Team - K', Maxima, Whip
- Fatal Fury Team - Terry, Joe, Andy
- Art of Fighting Team - Ryo, Robert, Takuma
- Female Fighters Team - Mai, King, Yuri
- Ikari Team - Ralf, Clark, Leona
- Psycho Soldiers Team - Athena, Kensou, Chin
- Korea Team - Jhun, Chang, Choi
- KOF 97' SP Team - Yamazaki, Blue Mary, Billy
- Orochi - Yashiro, Shermie, Chris
- Unnamed Team - Shingo, Kula, Saishu