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October 23 2017

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  The King of Fighters 2003 - ©SNK 2003 (Review 2)





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Game Stats
Other:
Players:
1 or 2 player

Type:
One On One Fighting

Size:
716 Megs
Japanese Name:

The King of Fighters 2003

Released On:

Home/MVS


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 SNK-Capcom.com.


Other Opinions - More Reviews On NG4L:
Review 1 - by Raiken
Review 3 - by Cloudvii


Introduction:

Yes, this is the final KOF to appear on the Neo Geo. No, this doesn't mean KOF 2003 is going to suck!

The year is 2003. The creator of SNK left the company on hardships years ago and SNK has not been the same since, becoming almost lifeless. Now with enough money, the original owner has reclaimed his works and has told Eolith they were not needed anymore. The newly named SNK Playmore starts a new era and one of the first things they did in doing so was the 2003 version of KOF. Sadly, this would be the last KOF we would see on the Neo Geo before SNK jumps onto Sammy's Atomiswave arcade system.


Graphics: 9/10

Yeow! SNK Playmore wasn't kidding as they pulled out all the stops to make the series' finale, on the Neo Geo, looks its best on the aged system. Most characters will have some minor differences, like Terry's attire, while some change were for the better, like Robert. The stages look a little 'light' on the side, but they make for some interesting landscapes (The "Sealed Orochi" stage comes to mind). Mukai was created in such in depth detail, down to the crackling white light flowing through his upper body, the broken pillars, and his stone flash wave. In the artwork, the drawings remind me that of KOF 99 artwork, seeing everybody's faces had somewhat the same face complexion, except in 2003 it was a lot better. They all seem happy in the art. Like they knew they were starring in a KOF all the fighters would be proud of.


Gameplay/Controls: 9/10

This section of the game has been redone into a whole new style of game play, while still maintaining some of that KOF goodness. First, the team selection has a different setup in mind. Called the "Tactical Leader System", the first person you pick will be assign the 'leader' of the team and the remaining two will be the regular teammates. Why would this be important? Well, for starters, all fighters can still do their desperation moves. However, super desperations can only be access by the leader of your team. It may not make sense, but you'll get use to it and find it enjoyable in the long run.

The traditional single fight rounds are no more and have now become a sixty second free for all. The object is to beat the entire opposing three member team within the time limit. Now, you might think it might not be possible to do that, but in truth, it can be done. All the teams can now tag in and out teammates in two ways. When the "Change OK" flashes and appears below, pressing B+C or C+D will give let you switch out to another person. A warning to be given is that different fighters has a certain amount of time they take before tagging out, which could leave you vulnerable to any attacks. The alternate is by turning a quarter circle forward motion and then pressing the BC/CD and you will hit your enemy and safely jump out and, automatically, let's the latest fighter, who jumped in, get a guaranteed another hit on your opponent, letting you do some diverse combos it if goes well. The super meter is like that of KOF 2002, expect it's only used for super moves, super canceling, and member switching attacks. With each defeat of a teammate, one level bar is added to your super meter. The hardest part of the fight is that your fighters, who are took damage and taking a break, CANNOT recover their life back, so you going to have to think twice about how to plan ahead.

The controls didn't go through any changes unlike everything else, but have gotten a lot more responsive. This makes doing any commands, moves, and combos the easiest things in the 2D fighting world. Due to the use for tagging people out and such, several basic commands, like knockdown attacks and certain fighters' moves, has been removed from the game. At least the rolling dodge is still there. The moves that require tapping a complex mix of arrows and buttons in an order to do LDMs are simple and tight. The computer isn't that hard until you reach mid bosses of the game, who all get to keep the three energy bars for themselves. Scary! Kusanagi (the 'evil' Kyo) smartly know how to counter and rush down on you. He is the person that will lead you in one of two roads of the end bosses. Chizuru is somewhat easy to read, but Maki has some very quick and deadly with her lethal multi-hitting attacks that will make frustrated you as she is a factor of leading to your defeat. Adel can be summed as a faster Rugal, performing moves with little to no recovery time. Mukai got some interesting moves involving stone pillars that are hard to avoid, sometimes blasting out moves that can kill a teammate in seconds.


Sound/Music: 8/10

I am very happy to report that all the fighters in this game have been given some totally new sayings with more emotion to make them seem more legit. This was genius cause this let's everybody don't look as stale and be stuck with the same old stuff that have been repeated and reused for many of the past KOFs, although one of Ryo's lines sounded exactly like it did in Capcom vs SNK 2. The music does really helps the fights feel more fast action paced. SNK's rendition of the classical song "Revolution", done for Adel's stage, sounds radiant. In other words, it nice to hear the music tracks sound like they use more then two instruments that didn't produced some techno crap. The announcer came off with too much of an accent and I don't mean cool engrish style, I mean he gives the last word of almost every phrase he says by adding a 'thrust' to it, if you will. Hearing "Order SEL-ECT!!" or "Member SEL-ECT!!" will crawl under some people's skin.


Replay Value: 9/10

Eleven teams make up the rosters this time around in one of the drastic switches in KOF history. For example, Andy is out of the Fatal Fury team and has Tizoc from MOTW in his spot, Yamazaki and Billy Kane are together again with a new member Gato, and Korea has let Choi take a vacation giving us Kim, Chang, and Jhun in the team. The four entirely new fighters are simple and easily to memorize, except Malin, who has way too many moves to count and maybe complicating for some. There are still some glitches in the system that people will wished were taken into consideration. Duo Lon has the worst infinite bug when used by a human player. However, don't let it get to you. The characters are distinguishing enough from each other and you will smile with the endless good supply of custom team combinations they have in here. Plus, in two players' battles, the matches are incredibly addicting, with the back and forth intensity. The single player battles are only good when you get to the mid/end bosses of 2003 and to view the teams endings, some of which will intrigue you.


Overall: 9/10

The King of Fighters' 2003 has left the Neo Geo with a good finale on the system. One of the best KOFs of the series, that no one should ever miss, SNK deserves some recognition for revamping the fights and techniques, notching it up to a new area of 2D fighting. Still dedicated in making quality games, if SNK can keep this series fresh, year after year (or not), I'm all for it!


Outside Links:
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