King of Fighters XII knuckles up next year

SNK's long-overdue revamp of flagship brawler set to arrive in Japanese arcades in April of 2009; producer talks about the troubles of next-generation 2D development.


TOKYO--Back in September of 2006, SNK Playmore announced that it was giving the formerly annual King of Fighters franchise a long-overdue graphic overhaul with King of Fighters XII. Today at the Amusement Machine Show in Japan, the game was finally presented to the world with a playable build and a release date.

It's about time.
It's about time.

Appearing onstage at the AM Show, producer Masaaki Kukino announced that KOFXII will be released in Japanese arcades next April. Kukino also took the occasion to introduce his game to the visiting press, and he talked a little bit about the development of the game.

Kukino started off by revealing that the concept behind KOFXII is "Rebirth." With 2009 marking the 15th anniversary of the King of Fighters series, the developers decided to take the game back to its roots and to give it a new start and new graphics.

KOFXII still plays in 2D, but Kukino noted that its graphics are different from the recent 2D fighters in the market that are colored in cel-shaded animation style (like the Guilty Gear X franchise or BlazBlue). Instead, KOFXII will feature characters that are drawn in more of the traditional, hand-dotted pixel art that the series has been known for.

KOFXII's first trailer didn't appear until this February, more than one year after the game's initial announcement. But from the smoothly animating characters, it seemed apparent that the developers had been making an effort to redraw the graphics from scratch. Kukino confirmed that, in fact, the character creation for KOFXII has been very time-consuming. According to Kukino, to give a three-dimensional look to the characters and to make them move smoothly, the artists created 3D models, took a 2D image of them, and used that as a guide to draw the pixel art.

"Overall, it's a very hard process that could take 16 months for even an experienced designer to do alone. In terms of data, the character size is about four times larger [than in previous installments]. But when considering the extra errors that come about in doing the [bigger] pixel art, the trouble is more than four times what it used to be."

"Each character in KOFXII has around 400 to 600 [sprite] patterns. Every single one of them is hand-drawn, and it's something that we're proud of. I'll only say it here, but we believe that this is something that no other company can imitate, something that only SNK Playmore can do," Kukino said.

Kukino then went on to talk about KOFXII's game system, and explained that the main concept behind it is sort of a man-against-man, "fist versus fist" battle. So as a result, the developers decided to abolish the multishift system from KOFXI and to return to the simpler 3-on-3 elimination format that the game originally pioneered.

Kukino confirmed that there will be a total of 20 characters in KOFXII, 11 of which are playable in the AM Show build: Kyo, Terry, Ryo, Ash, Robert, Kim, Ralf, Shen-wu, Benimaru, Leona, and Athena. KOFXII is currently 60 percent complete in development, and there will be beta tests before the game's proper release.

"We are aiming for the ultimate 2D fighting game and ultimate 2D pixel graphics," Kukino said in closing. "I've been working in this industry since the pixel-art days, so I know the importance of a single pixel. A single pixel can vitally change the expression on a [character's] face. We've taken that skill to an ultimate level."

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email

Join the conversation
There are 66 comments about this story
66 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
  • 66 results
  • 1
  • 2
GameSpot has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to toxic conduct in comments. Any abusive, racist, sexist, threatening, bullying, vulgar, and otherwise objectionable behavior will result in moderation and/or account termination. Please keep your discussion civil.

Avatar image for UnknownHedgehog

OK! Looking good! If there are a few good characters missing (e.g. K', Kula Diamond, Rock Howard, etc.), you'd expect them on the next game.

Avatar image for itBit

i just cummed!

Avatar image for Dead_or_Alive

lol your wrong EPaul this is better than sex!

Avatar image for azafirster

Yeah give street fighter a run for their money

Avatar image for EPaul

The game looks like sex when it is motion i must have it now!!!!

Avatar image for Guzthon

I'm Glad that SNK are STILL making 2D games! Let's hope that Capcom, Konami, Sega and other Video game companies to make 2D games. I remember the old days where the 2D fighting games ruled the streets, the malls and many places. In 2009 the 2D fighting games will ARISE from the ashes. Note: If anyone who doesn't believe the 2D games, so go play with your 3d games at home (locked in the room).

Avatar image for blackdragonfist

Good game and good series but I still don't see this topping street fighter 4. To all who saying Capcom is selling out about not keeping SF4 2d it is! It just moved on.I'm glad it can show you can still keep it old school and add new flavor to it.

Avatar image for omega300

the best fighting game is coming

Avatar image for omega300

sweet game of the year :)

Avatar image for AtlanticRock

Billy Kane please... team him with Eiji and Gato as the new Revenge team

Avatar image for TheArcade

Blue Mary?

Avatar image for neonblueshadow

yeah its been a while since I've been addicted to a 2D arcade style fighting game...I feel old now...

Avatar image for SearchBomber

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Avatar image for deadstarr

I hope they put Joe Higashi in it.

Avatar image for TheArcade

Yeah but what about Mai Shiranui?

Avatar image for RaiKageRyu

Well I'm pretty sure Iori will be there in the final game, so that makes twelve known characters.

Avatar image for Erbac

Thank you SNK Playmore for keeping it 2D. These graphics are unbelievable, and I like that they went back to the traditional 3 on 3. SNKP is proving that 2D is not dead with this new advancement in graphics.

Avatar image for Ripper_TV

If development of fighting games cost that much then it wouldn't live for long.

Avatar image for clarkspark

Just bring in Clark and I'm there. :)

Avatar image for kazya_mishima

nothing was wrong with the art of King of Fighters after 98' so why say finally, either you like the game and its characters or you dont like it at all

Avatar image for Proman84

Awesome. SNK fighters rule. This will be one of my most anticipated games!

Avatar image for BelmontMaster

Man I can't wait for this game. KoF forever!

Avatar image for AtlanticRock

my favorite fighting game, no, my FAVORITE game series... I love the music, story, characters, etc. of King of Fighters and can't wait for XII... Hope after this SNK works on Mark of Wolves 2 and shows Capcom what REAL 2D fighters look like... SNK 4 EVA

Avatar image for LordAndrew

It's about damn time.

Avatar image for especensor

sweetness. a great game thats worth looking forward to. i just wish kof fans would quit criticizing sf4 for having 3d graphics and saying that capcom shoulda made street fighter with souped up high res sprites. like freaking hell, did everyone forget about super street fighter 2 turbo hd remix!?

Avatar image for rikhan_z

I can't wait

Avatar image for omnifas

Finally SNK has stopped rehashing King of Fighters and redrawn all the sprites.

Avatar image for manilove2d

WOW Nicely done SNK...seriously. It was long overdue and you outdid yourselves. Beautiful real 2D. Just hope it plays just as good as it looks.

Avatar image for kobebryantyanic

Man, king fighters. KOF98 was the first game i've played on the ps1, Lord did i enjoy that game. But at the same time, if they won't bring it to a console, this is useless.

Avatar image for KoruKinshi

Only 20??? Hm... :/

Avatar image for TheDuskwalker

"Each character in KOFXII has around 400 to 600 [sprite] patterns. Every single one of them is hand-drawn" Sexy! And for anyone not lucky enough to see it in action yet. << LINK REMOVED >> Most sexy!

Avatar image for kratos_karmakar

1 of my favorite fighting games of all time. hope this comes to the console or to the pc via emulator fast. 1st thing imma do is check out the new iori yagami and benimaru if hes there.

Avatar image for shabulia

This game... I simply cannot wait for.

Avatar image for SPD_WeBmAsTaH

Lol, release it for PS3 and 360 and we'll be happy. This article's too long so I won't bother reading it now, too tired.

Avatar image for Viral-venom13

Gosh, its been so long (years) since i've played a KOF game, its good to see the series getting revamped though!

Avatar image for kratos_karmakar

1 of my favorite fighters of all time. i cant wait for this game to come to the console or become available via emulator. 1st thing i wud do is check out the new iori yagami.

Avatar image for Nintendo_Man

long live arcades

Avatar image for MatzeEdend

Man, there isn't an arcade within a hundred miles of where I live, and I live in a relatively big city! It seems like arcades are going the way of the dodo...

Avatar image for yatatabien

I love old-school new school 2D graphics! Yays ^^

Avatar image for chikahiro94

@twashington Nah. 2d is an art that I'd hate to see go. Sadly, while the PS3 and 360 offer so much power they could do some truly amazing 2d games, the likes of which we would never have imagined during the 8- and 16-bit days, yet so few companies are taking advantage of it. I'd love to see a 2d renaissance spring up this generation!

Avatar image for sonictank

when will it come to north america cause i wanna play this SOOOOo bad

Avatar image for NightRain

Excellent! I can't wait! We need KOF. I wanna see some screenshots now.

Avatar image for metabolic_youth

Part of a dieing breed. Nothing can beat hand drawn animation, but it's just not cost effective for developers when 3D is quicker and cheaper.

Avatar image for madsnakehhh

Cant hardly wait, ¿but 20 characters?, that got me a little worried, at least Terry, Athena, Leona and Kyo are still there, but...there will be some guys out.

Avatar image for twashington9737

Well, maybe, just maybe, it's time to let 2D go? Maybe, just maybe....

Avatar image for tonyleo01

man, im really eagerly waiting for this game. But 20 characters? there's sure gonna be a lot of missing favorites :(

Avatar image for nini200

YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Finally a game that I will hype!!!!! I'm preordering this day one!!!!!!!!!!! SNK FTW!!!!!!!!

Avatar image for Drz4tobate


Avatar image for BC20FLY

release the arcade here!!!

Avatar image for darkfighter000

I'll buy both Japanese and US versions. Come on Play Asia, tell us when pre-orders are available for this game.

  • 66 results
  • 1
  • 2