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March 19 2019

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  The King of Fighters 2002 - ęPlaymore/Eolith 2002 (Review 4)

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Game Stats
1 or 2 player

One On One Fighting

681 Megs
Japanese Name:

The King of Fighters 2002

Released On:


Reviewed By:
Top Reviews By This Author:
The King of Fighters series:

94 - 95 - 96 - 97 - 98 - 99 - 2k - 2k1 - 2k2 - 2k3

- Samurai Shodown
- Samurai Shodown 2
- Samurai Shodown 3
- Samurai Shodown 4
- Samurai Shodown 5
- Samurai Shodown 5 Special

- Double Dragon

More of One-Fu's Reviews may be found at

Other Opinions - More Reviews On NG4L:
Review 1 - by Kazuya_UK
Review 2 - by Daemon
Review 3 - by Raiken


Sweet dream matches are made of these. Who had in mind to disagree?

Faith has not been kind to the last three releases of "The King of Fighters", starting from 99. After much negativity and losing fanfare, The NEST storyline finally comes to a (extremely confusing) close. It's time once again to axe the storyline part, throw it out the window, and put together another KOF just for the hell of it. The 2nd "dream match within a dream match" begins 2002! Could we actually see a sign that KOF is not officially dead?

Graphics: 7/10

Upon looking this game at first, it's good to find there are some sane people within the SNK/Eolith collaboration that still knows what their doing to some points. This time the intro to the game is more organize and gives everyone a little time in the spotlight. The team selection is, like 98, clustered and weird. The team order screen looks like they just took it out of KOF 97's order screen, with a different backdrop. which I wouldn't be shock if the company did do that.

The artwork for the fighters dramatically improved like they went through one of those makeover shows, no longer seen as the face was made out of nasty silly putty back in 2001. Speaking of sprites, most fighters receive either little or no changes, while some get tons of new stances and movement. This might make some fans give mix emotions. I do question why the hell they almost gave Kim a total revamp? For a guy who fights for justice, he looks like a thief who stole all the new pixels for himself and the end of it isn't pretty, as he sticks out like a sore monkey's ass. Also, Vice can't seem to pick one stance to act on as she went from 'zombie' to 'funky hand movements' in 2002. Make up you mind and stay with what's good, SNK!!! If it isn't broke, don't fix it.

The stages' locations make a lot more sense this time around. It doesn't feel like a glamorous tournament like the earlier versions done them in the past, but it's a nice setup in its own right. Then again, this game gets a heads up from me for putting in Cambodia, my home country, and the Angkor Wat as a backdrop. Anybody who puts that in any game can't be that bad, in my book! Korea's stage is a dreadful and painful memo on how not to make the game look old. A few other things I want to mention are the overall white lines, and the fonts of the letters and numbers. They look very ugly and thin. If my eyesight is leering, in the middle of a fight, at how I can actually see the 'blocks' of several shades of color of the super bar's number or reacting on how disgusting the word "PERFECT" looks when it comes out, that's not a good thing.

Gameplay/Controls 8/10:

The best decision they did was ridding almost everything that appeared in '99 to '01. That means no more 4 member teams, no more strikers, and no more funky (and useless) special power modes. Going back to the original 3 on 3 line up, they still kept the useful tricks like the evade roll and guard crushing. This year's new special skill system is a little reminder of the super featured in 2001 with a different approach. It's a simple, super bar that stored up to three levels, in the beginning, and later puts one extra refillable bar if you lose a teammate, maxing out at five.

You can do two things with it, you can either execute a normal desperation move or enter MAX mode. In this mode, a little yellow bar acts as a timer. You will do less damage to your opponent, but you gain tons of options. Some include the helpful canceling technique in basic and special moves. However, it will run the bar empty faster, so use it wisely. If you're really confident, try to do the super desperation(s), but you'll need to sacrifice another full super bar for it.

If you are in the brink of defeat, have no fear. Hidden desperations are here! This is truly a very risky tactic. It can either make you or break you during your most crucial moment. Only available when the life bar is nears its end flashing red, the pacific set of difficult directional and button setups, depending on the fighter, will trigger the powerful emergency move. Be warn, you need precise timing in hopes your rival does not retaliate or avoid it.

Putting that aside, the actual fighting is lot better, in my opinion. However, I notice some of the fighters felt lost and others didn't miss a beat. In contrast, the game seems very evenly equal with all the people in the group. Strangely, I don't know what they were trying to do with Takuma, who I think got, the worst end in the deal.

The controls are finely tuned, but the hidden desperations were annoying painful. Vice's hidden super was a tiring hassle half the time and doing K9999 was too obvious for any veteran to know what was coming up since you have to tap the joystick back and forth pretty damn fast (in the air, no less!), if they knew enough about the game. The CPU AI doesn't seem to be problem as they are just over as being average, so sometimes they will play 'smart' in some cases. Rugal can be a real pain, if you blindly attack him without thinking ahead.

Sound/Music 8/10:

After last years, I didn't know if I was able to recover from the massive uninspiring techno music booming out of KOF 2001, but alas 2002 got some the right notes down. I will say I got a bad vibe from most of them because they did too much guitar riffing in most tracks. I actually enjoyed some of the remixes provided though. I liked Korea's theme, as it is an update of Kim's theme from Fatal Fury 2! Any longtime SNK will love that nice piece of nostalgia!!! The sound effects and voice acting remains with nearly no difference, maybe a couple the fighters got the treatment, but I really didn't notice it or care for it.

Replay Value 9/10:

Thirteen teams, of the past and present, are put together and unlike 2001, the majority of the three member teams make sense, even in this "dream match" and let me just put it out there that I hated that you only had 15 seconds to select your three fighters. In some rather heart breaking news, some popular characters had been ditched. So fans of people like King and Shingo, prepare to cry. The New Face still retains their Orochi alter egos in their as well as two secret fighters: an "old school" Kyo (named "Kusanagi") and Rugal.

The one player mode goes from battling about five teams, against a single entry by one of the members of the NESTS team (should I be excited?), and one more team before going against the final boss, the more vicious and really pissed off Rugal.

What I liked was the fact the game lets you choose one of two randomly opposing teams to duke it out for the first five battles. So if you know someone is going be a threat in making you proceed to the next fight, you can go the easy route and pick the slightly easier team to beat. That is, unless, you get two teams who are both screwy. This is one of the better KOF games to have two human players versus each other. This dream match deserves its high score in replay value.

Overall: 8/10

Damn, it took SNK awhile for them to bring a decent fun game. Not the best KOF, but its millions of light years ahead of its last three predecessors combine, but that's my take. Okay, so there a small list of problems inside the game that don't look good like the graphics or music. Think about it, SNK & Eolith heard and check what was wrong with the last couple of games and brought back many of the old traits that made KOF famous in the first place. In my final words: buy it, love it, and cherish it.

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