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September 22 2019

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The King Of Fighters 94

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  NGP - The King of Fighters R-1 (MONO) · ©SNK 1998

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Game Stats
1 or 2 players
(with link cable)

One on one fighter

16 Megs

Japanese Name:

The King of Fighters R-1



Reviewed By:
Top Reviews By This Author:
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King of Fighters R1 was one of the first games released on SNK's very short lived black and white Neo Geo Pocket system. I'm sure that most people have played The King of Fighters R2, but it seems like most people overlooked this game as it was black and white. Well, that is a mistake as although the graphics aren't colorful, the gameplay is certainly fun.

The more well known sequel to this game was a handheld version of the Neo geo's King of Fighters '98, so it makes sense that the prequel was a conversion of The King of FIghters '97. The best thing about this handheld version was that SNK didn't pass on development to another company (like they did with their Gameboy handheld titles), but instead handled it themselves. The result was that R-1 turned out to be one of the best handheld fighters made at the time of its release.


When you first start the game, you can still pick between extra and advanced modes like you could on the arcade version. In Extra mode you must carge up your super bar by pressing down and both the A+B buttons, while in advanced mode it builds up when you get hit/attack. There are also differences between the way you perform your super moves - for instance in advanced mode you can store more than one super move. There are other minor differences, like the ability to dash forwards in advanced mode, while in extra mode you can only take a big step forward. See the FAQ's below for more information on these differences.

One of the best things about Neo Geo Pocket fighting games (in my opinion at least) is the controls. While it might be difficult to master at first, the NGP's thumpad is perfect for pulling out special moves, and WAY better than the Game Boy Color's D-Pad. Once you get used to it, you'll be amazed at how awkward the GB's pad actually feels in comparison. Not only that, but most NGPC fighters have extremely tight controls and are very good fun to play. KOF R-1 os no exception to this rule, and proves that handheld fighters can be very good fun indeed.

One thing that does take a little getting used to though is the method for using weak/hard attacks. Because SNK's tiny handheld only has two buttons (not including the option button), you have to hold the button down if you want to use a strong punch/kick, whereas tapping it will make you do a weak one. This sounds horrible at first, and takes a little getting used to (especially when trying combos), but just like the with the thumbstick practice makes perfect. While you might not be able to get off all the combos in this game that you could in the arcade, its easy to adapt your playing style and have great fun.


Like pretty much all the fighters released on the NGP, the graphics are drawn in the "super deformed" style. Some people like this style, and others say that it is a little babyish, but personally I think that it is pretty cool. Also, considering that this is a handheld game and is only black and white, the graphics have some considerable detail on them. The characters are large and reasonably animated, and the backgrounds are very detailed, although they are just static pictures and don't move (can't have everything). The graphics are also kind of "letterboxed", with black borders at the top and bottom. All the fighting takes place in the middle of the screen, with the energy bars and character portraits in the top bar, and the super bars in the bottom bar. Because there is (obviously) no speech, what the characters are saying is shown using text, which also appears in the bottom bar.


That brings me nicely onto the sound of the game. SNK has done a commendable job of bringing the sound from the Neo Geo version onto a handheld, even with the Neo Geo Pockets limited "Gameboy-esque" sound capabilites. Although I've heard better sound on other NGP games, you can instantly recognize all the music if you have played some of the full size King of Fighters games. Mai, Kyo, Ryo's and all the rest have their own music... in fact, unlike King of Fighters '97, all stages have music (many stages on KOF '97 had just ambient sound) - although I guess this was done because the NGP woulnd't have been able to do very good ambient noises! :)


In a way, it's a shame that the Neo Geo Pocket black and white machine was replaced so quickly by the color version. Because of that (and because color versions of most of the old black and white stuff were released), games like KOF R-1 were totally overlooked. Most people only played KOF R-2 (the color version) because of this, and although R-1 and R-2 are very similar, R-1 is still fun to play. If you haven't tried it yet, I'd recommend giving it a go, as at the very least it should give you something to do for a few hours, especially if you are on a long and boring journey. One thing that stops it from having a higher relay value is that it doesn't have any extras like R-2, such as the one where you build your own fighter. Anyway, forget about that and ignore the mono graphics, and you'll find it a worthy addition to your fighting game library.

Graphics: 7/10
Sound: 7/10
Game play: 8/10
Replay Value: 7/10

Overall 7/10

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The King of Fighters R-2

The sequel - in colour!

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