It's common knowledge that all good things come to an end, such as the Neo Geo history of the famous King of Fighters series. For not less than 10 years SNK, or in this case SNK Playmore, continuously released one episode after another for the same powerful hardware we all love so much.
In 2003 SNK Playmore decided to put an worthy end to the Neo Geo saga of the series, but not before one final game would sound the bell for the last round: The King of Fighters 2003. In fact SNKP decided to introduce a tag system for the very first time of the series, which allows the player to change its characters during a fight. Despite the new changes The King of Fighters 2003 was actually pretty well received by fans of the series and reviewers.
It's also worth mentioning that SNK Playmore released the game on PCB boards as well in order to damp down pirate copies. As you all know it was piracy that caused SNK (Playmore) lots of trouble and missing earnings during the Neo Geo years. The same (more or less unsuccessful) measure was taken with SVC Chaos too.
The King of Fighters 2003
Genre: Fighting Players: 2 Size: 716 MEGS Released on: AES, MVS, Arcade / PCB, PS2, XBOX
The King of Fighters 2003 is the 10th game in The King of Fighters series and the first KOF game to become a tag tournament. It is also the first KOF to be published by SNK Playmore, and the final KOF game developed for Neo Geo MVS and AES hardware, which has been the primary platform for the series since the first game, KOF '94. The game was ported to the PlayStation 2 and Xbox; both versions were released in North America as a two-in-one bundle with its preceding KOF 2002 game.
With all of the changes made in this entry I don't know if too many people were confident SNKP could really deliver, but DAMN did they ever deliver! The tag system is incredible, and this game was the introduction of many fan favorites (Ash, Duo Lon, Shen Woo, and to a much lesser extent Malin). This game also finally saw the introduction of a few Garou characters (Tizoc and Gato) who are all sadly missing from KOF XII and XIII. The music, presentation, character designs, story... everything really came together for this one. My jaw dropped the first time I fought Adelheid while Rose sat in the background casually playing the piano. So freaking cool.
As far as the NeoGeo KOF entries, this one is my favorite (though I wouldn't be surprised if I've said the same thing about a few other entries in the past since it's truly very hard to pick a single favorite). I sadly don't play this one much anymore though due to KOFXI being such an improvement. That is not a knock on 2003 at all, but XI did everything 2003 did but better and also added the badass known as Oswald. The inclusion of Gai Tendo, Silber, Jyazu, and Sho Hayate was also incredible, and Shion is one of my favorite SNK character designs ever. Plus, if you're playing the PS2 version you get Hotaru Futaba who just happens to be my favorite character in Garou.
Short version: KOF2003 is amazing, but KOFXI is even more amazing.
This is yet another KOF game that I've never felt compelled to play. Now that I've read what reelmojo had to say about it I know I'm going to have to try it out. As for what you said about picking favorites 94 and 2000 are my favorites.
I really do like this one. In some respects it's a return to form, infused with that special SNK "something" that I felt was missing in the previous two installments (though 2002 wasn't too shabby). I actually like the tag-system, it's probably the most distinctive feature in this final franchaise release on AES hardware. Excellent visuals, animation and backdrops ranging from good to fantastic. Sound effects and voices deliver as usual, though the tunes here aren't quite as memorable as in other installments. It doesn't quite dethrone '95, '98 and '99 in my eyes, but is still a great KOF entry and a worth final bow on this hardware platfom.
Agreed, 2D. Ash just doesn't look the part. He's not stylish, not intimidating, looks weak and gender-ambiguous to a fault. Don't much care for his storyline, either. The game's roster is quite decent overall- shame he was chosen as the title's poster-boy.
I actually think characters like Ash help set KOF apart from other mainstream fighters. I think the only androgynous character in Street Fighter is Twelve, and that barely counts. Everyone else is either super manly men, half naked women, or comic relief (I'm sure there are exceptions). Apparently the androgyny thing worked for them as they added Shion in KOFXI.
Also, at this point Ash's awesomeness cannot be questioned. He's an opportunist who defeated Chizuru and Iori and stole their powers. If that doesn't flat out make him a villain, he's at least an anti-hero. And rather than gaining all three sacred treasures he actually voluntarily gave Chizuru and Iori their powers back, which pretty much makes them his bitches. If Iori tries to take revenge (and it's Iori we're talking about) Ash doesn't even care that he just made him more powerful. He'll gladly fight and destroy him if need be, and he'll do it while looking like a girl... as if to humiliate him further.
Another KOF game I like. I couldn't care about the story oF KOF 2003. I loved the gameplay of this is game. I like the new multi-shift tagging system. This one is a good game, but not as good as KOFXIII, KOFXI, KOF 2002, etc....
The thing that bothered me most about Ash is the lack of originality displayed in his move set and powers. ANOTHER boring flame user? Yeah KOF needs that... he also rips off 95% of his moves from Guile and the other 5% from Kain.
Glad his story arc is over.
Edited by LIFE_IN_2D on 22. November 2013 04:38
shot in the eye
shot in the brain
shot in the ass...
I created a nice lengthy response to this one earlier today, only to be greeted by the wondrous 'Internal Server Error 500' and a loss of my entire post upon 'back' button
Basically, 2003 is (still!) one of my fave KOFs for the NeoGeo. Thing is, since actually owning the console and having the games in one place, as opposed to having all the KOF's spread out among differing console generations/platforms, I feel, offers a different perspective on the series as a whole. The quality - imo - remains fairly consistent and the apparent differences are in fact different.
I think it's easier to like ALL the KOF's much more when you have them all, consistently performing, on the one system of origin. Entries that were once average imo have since come to life since having them on Home cart (re: 96 & 00, for example).
I still feel that overall, 03 still plays the best though, in terms of how fresh it feels and the fact that it plays more modernly. Especially compared to 02, which feels very old fashioned by comparison imo...
One of my favourite games in the franchise. It may not be the most balanced, but I always have a ton of fun with this one. Tag team isn't normally what I like in fighting games, but there is just something about this game that keeps me coming back to its tag team mechanic, maybe because its faster paced?
I honestly don't mind Ash too much (but he was definitely too powerful for his own good), but it did lead into an interesting storyline.
NEOGEO is a registered trademark of SNK PLAYMORE CORPORATION.
All intellectual property rights related to NEOGEO products and others belong to SNK PLAYMORE CORPORATION.
Non SNK software titles belong to their respective authors.
This website is tested with Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox. Best Viewed at 1024x768 or higher. Although it is tested with Firefox and IE, it should work with other browsers without problems - please contact me if you notice any issues!