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February 23 2019

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  The King of the Fighters XII - ©SNK 2009

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Game Stats

1 or 2 player local and online


One On One Fighting

Format Reviewed:

Playstation 3

Hard Drive Install?

Yes, optional

Also available On:

Xbox 360

Downloadable Content:


Reviewed By:
Top Reviews By This Author:
- The King Of Fighters: Maximum Impact (PS2)
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- King of Fighters 2002 (Neo Geo)
- Metal Slug 5 (Neo Geo)
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- Matrimelee (Neo Geo)
- Neo Geo Fighter Stick For PS2 (Hardware)


Looking back over the last decade and a bit, it’s quite hard to believe that in all that time the King of Fighters series has been using, for the most part, the same sprites since 1996. While some may have changed a bit, and we did have a few redrawn characters for the Neo Geo’s final entry into the series, KOF 2003, they have essentially stayed the same for some 13 years! It’s hard to imagine that happening with any other series of games, but I suppose that despite the various complaints that people have had during the “playmore” era of KOF games (and even with the old SNK’s last couple of entries to the series), it is a testament to the quality and depth of gameplay on offer within KOF that the series has remained so popular with the hardcore fans. Being one of the few remaining 2D fighters still actively in development has also helped.

It's all sparkly and new!

With SNK choosing to make the move to a new hardware platform in the arcades before the Neo Geo was officially killed off, it was expected that we would eventually see a graphical upgrade at some point. It’s been a long time since KOF Neowave made its debut on the Atomiswave platform, and while an upgrade would perhaps have been hoped for a little sooner, we finally have the “REBIRTH” (as SNK puts it) that most fans have wanted. So, with 2009 being the 15th anniversary of the KOF series, can it possibly live up to all the hype generated since its announcement, and more importantly, new graphics aside; is the gameplay up to scratch, and are the fighting mechanics also a significant enough “Rebirth”?


“Welcome to the King of Fighters! Allow me to explain the rules of the tournament.”

SNK have gone back to basics with KOF XII in more ways than one! The core gameplay is still the same KOF that we know and love and uses the normal four button setup, but for better or worse, don’t expect anything like the same gameplay experience found in KOF XI!

Say goodbye to Tactical Shift!

The most obvious change is the removal of the “Tactical Shift” system (tag team). While it was a nice change of pace in The King of Fighters 2003, it wasn’t perfectly implemented and needed a bit of work. Thankfully they took the tag system in that game and refined it for KOF XI, making it a very enjoyable title, and probably the closest to the “old” SNK that we have seen in the Playmore/SNKP era, even if it wasn’t without its faults. I personally loved the game, so I had mixed feelings about going back to the traditional 3 vs 3 system of play. SNK’s idea was to take the game back to basics however, so while some may hate this change, it’s not necessarily a bad thing, especially for many series veterans who have been around since KOF ’94.

Blow Back Attack:

A “blow back” attack is executed by tapping hard punch and kick together, and it can also be charged by holding the buttons down briefly. The standard version will break an opponent’s guard and knock them down, while the charge version will make your opponent fall down slowly onto their knees, giving you the opportunity to follow up with more attacks. The non charge version of the blow back attack can also be performed aerially.

Guard Attack:

Similar to a blow back attack, pressing hard punch/kick together while holding back will make your character block, and a small blue shield flash in front of them for a split second. If your opponent attacks during this time, you will counter their move and land an attack of your own.

Roll/Fall breaker:

Evasive rolls are performed by pressing light punch and kick together. Pressing either those buttons or hard punch and kick when you are knocked down activates a fall breaker recovery roll.


The throws in KOF are now performed by pressing back/forwards along with both punch buttons, rather than the single button press used in previous games.

Critical Counter System:

Underneath your energy bar there is a small gauge that fills up as you land or receive attacks. Once full for a limited time you can unleash a critical counter by countering an opponents attack with a close strong punch. The screen freezes for a brief time when this is executed successfully, and you then have an opening to land a number of attacks; while in truth you can just randomly button mash to inflict a fair amount of damage, using this brief few seconds you get in this mode wisely will do you more good, and you can actually end the counter with a super move if you are quick enough!

Special/Super Moves:

The power gauge in KOF XII simply charges and only holds enough for one desperation move; there are no super desperation moves. Also many characters actually only have the one DM: only a handful like Ryo and Robert have two, or even three in the case of Ash Crimson. However they do deal a significant amount of damage.

Simple Mode:

After selecting your characters you can choose between “Normal” and “Simple” control methods: Simple allows beginner players (or just plain cheap players) to perform special moves by tilting the left analogue stick in a direction and pressing an attack button. I can see no reason why anyone would want to use this unless they are quite inept at fighting games, but for most people its use won’t even be considered… and it should of course be banned if you are playing competitively against friends! It seems you can select Simple mode when playing online too, which seems a bit unfair. It would be better if there was an option to ban its use when creating a room.


Series veterans will spot many other changes, including the removal of many characters command and special moves (although some did get new ones), which can be very jarring at first until you alter your tactics. Taunts have also mysteriously gone missing along with character intros. It means some of the personality of the game has been lost, although with the lack of any real storyline it isn’t such a big deal this time around (it must be fixed in future though!). The only reason I can think of is that it had already taken them a long time to put together the new hand drawn sprites, so adding those was just too much work. Perhaps understandable, but it does unfortunately mean that the character roster does lose a little of its usual personality.

Character Roster:

“Select the Order!”

There are a mere 22 characters in the roster for this game, with two of them being exclusive to the home version (Elisabeth Branctorche and Mature). This is one of the smallest rosters of any game in the series, and while the roster is actually still a pretty good one for the most part, some may be a little shocked that certain characters were overlooked! The plain and simple fact though is that no matter who SNK put in the game, someone was going to be disappointed; there is no such thing as a perfect roster, unless they somehow manage to create a game with every single SNK character ever!

A small roster...

It is also worth noting that there are NO set teams this time around. As the title is considered a “Dream Match” in the KOF ‘98/2002 mould, there is no real storyline to speak of; the entire thing is based around a time trial tournament where entrants are competing to complete 5 fights in the fastest time. Quite surprisingly there is also no boss!

Many of the characters have gone back to the same clothes they wore in earlier games, or even had their design changed to match the original games they appeared in much more. The only new face is Raiden, of Fatal Fury fame, who is making his first appearance in the tournament.

Below is a list of all the characters in the game, with a brief mention of changes to their move list etc. I won't go into too much depth here though, for that you'd be best to check out a proper Move List/FAQ!


Ash Crimson
The Sneering Blaze

Fighting Style:
His own (employing special flames)
Age: 16
Birthday: February 14th
Birthplace: Unknown, raised in France
Height: 178cm
Weight: 59kg
Blood Type: O
Hobby: Nail Art
Favourite Food: Sachertorte (sweets)
Forte In Sports: None (because sports are a bother)
Personal Treasures: His Fingernails
Dislikes: Bothersome things, uninteresting things

Everyone’s favourite “metro version of Street Fighters Guile” is back (someone else’s description not mine!), and looks much the same as previous incarnations… in other words, on seeing him for the first time most people still think that he is female. He’s lost his command throw (Vendemiaire), but has gained a new move called “Genie”. Remember Goenitz’s Yonokaze whirlwind attacks? Well, it’s similar to them: pressing QCB along with any button will make a fireball appear at different points on the screen depending on which button you pressed. It disappears after a second or so, but if your opponent touches it, it explodes, causing a small amount of damage. He is also one of the few characters with more than one DM – he actually has three in fact, specifically the
Sans-Culotte, Thermidor and Pluviose DM’s.

Duo Lon
The Silent Assassin

Fighting Style:
Piercing pugilism of the wailing underworld. Preternatural Curse Combat
Age: 21
Birthday: March 11th
Birthplace: China Hebei, Province
Height: 189cm
Weight: 79kg
Blood Type: Unknown
Hobby: Hunting for unidentified organisms, Mahjong
Favourite Food: Bird of paradise, roasted whole
Forte In Sports: There are no sports he's bad at!
Personal Treasures: The edicts of the flying brigands. His mothers keepsake.
Dislikes: Tomato juice

Ash’s former partner from KOF 2003 looks much the same as before, but has lost some moves. Unfortunately the only DM that Duo Lon has retained is the Hiden: Genmubakkoshikon. As in the previous two games Duo Lon is nicely animated, but as all the characters in this instalment are, it doesn’t stand out quite so glaringly in comparison!

Shen Woo
Shanghai's God of War

Fighting Style:
His own (rowdy barefisted boxing)
Age: 29
Birthday: September 10th
Birthplace: Unknown (raised in Shanghai?)
Height: 188cm
Weight: 97kg
Blood Type: B
Hobby: Fighting tough opponents. watching combative sports
Favourite Food: Shanghai crab
Forte In Sports: Ping-pong
Personal Treasures: Evidence of his power
Dislikes: Jellyfish

Ash’s other team mate from KOF 2003 and also KOF XI is back and looks much the same as before, but as with everyone he has lost a few moves. He has two DM’s, or three if you count the follow up that you can perform to his Zetsu: Gekiken punch.

Kyo Kusanagi
Scion of the Flame

Fighting Style:
Kusanagi Style of martial arts
Age: 20
Birthday: December 12th
Birthplace: Japan
Height: 181cm
Weight: 75kg
Blood Type: B
Hobby: Writing Poems
Favourite Food: Broiled Fish
Forte In Sports: Ice Hockey
Personal Treasures: His motorcycle, his girlfriend Yuki.
Dislikes: Effort

Kyo is a lot more like he was in the earlier KOF games, and has his ground level projectile back, as well as his Oboroguruma kick. He only has one DM, the Orotinagi. He is definitely one of the stronger characters overall in this game.

Benimaru Nikaido
The Shooting Star

Fighting Style:
Age: 21
Birthday: June 6
Birthplace: Japan
Height: 180cm
Weight: 68kg
Blood Type: O
Hobby: Sky-cruising, cooking
Favourite Food: Sashimi, pasta, coffee
Forte In Sports: Clay pigeon shooting, skydiving
Personal Treasures: Himself, his earrings
Dislikes: Otaku (nerds), regret

The original "metro" guy of KOF. I have never been a fan of Benimaru at all myself, but I have found myself using him a little bit more this time around. He has two anti air attacks, the Super Inazuma Kick, and also a totally new move called the Benimaru Lancer, where he raises his hand and emits a burst of lightning. It also give you an opportunity to follow up with another quick attack. It can be very handy against people that roll a lot as well as an anti air.


Goro Daimon
The Rising Storm

Fighting Style:
Judo/Personal combat style
Age: 29
Birthday: May 5th
Birthplace: Japan
Height: 204cm
Weight: 138kg
Blood Type: A
Hobby: Appreciating nature, touring around Japanese Gardens
Favourite Food: Buckwheat noodles served on bamboo sieve
Forte In Sports: Judo
Personal Treasures: His family, his geta (Japanese clogs)
Dislikes: Precision machines

Another character I admittedly don't use very much, as I'm not the biggest fan of grapplers, so I can't comment much at all on gameplay specifics. Daimon has two special throws along with his standard one, one of them being an anti air. His DM (Gokurakuotoshi) is a an unblockable throw that does massive damage.


Iori Yagami
Unbridled Instinct

Fighting Style:
Yagami Style
Age: 20
Birthday: March 25th
Birthplace: Japan
Height: 182cm
Weight: 76kg
Blood Type: O
Hobby: Playing in bands
Favourite Food: Meat
Forte In Sports: Everything
Personal Treasures: None
Dislikes: Violence

One of the most changed characters from previous King of Fighters games. Due to what happened at the end of KOF XI (Ash Crimson stole his powers), he no longer has any flames and his move set is a fair bit different and feature him slashing away at his opponents with his bare hands. For people that use Iori a lot, it's very difficult to get used to the new style but is pretty good once you get the hang of it. His dragon punch style anti air move is no longer part of his repertoire and is replaced by an upwards slash. Iori also has a command throw that bounces his victom way off the ground and gives an opportunity to juggle them. Finally, his Yaotome DM is similar to his normal one, but without the flames.

You have probably noticed his new outfit in the picture too; finally after all these years Mr. Yagami has got a new wardrobe!


Athena Asamiya
The Psychic-Powered Idol

Fighting Style:
Psychic Powers & Chinese martial arts boxing (Kenpo)
Age: 18
Birthday: March 14th
Birthplace: Japan
Height: 163cm
Weight: 49kg
Blood Type: B
Measurements: 83/57/82
Hobby: Creating Web Pages, shopping by catalogue/online
Favourite Food: Maple-leaf-shaped bean cakes, things with sesame seed flour dissolved in milk
Forte In Sports: Lacrosse
Personal Treasures: Her Peter Rabbit Tea set
Dislikes: Grasshoppers

Athena's design is quite a bit different to before. While she is still wearing her schoolgirl uniform, her look as changed to a much more anime like one, which is meant to be more like her appearance in the old Psycho Solider arcade game. She still has her Psycho Ball and Psycho Sword, as well as the Psycho Reflector and Phoenix Arrow aerial move, but no more teleport. Her solitary DM is the Shining Crystal Bit.


Sie Kensou
The Young Rising Dragon
Fighting Style: Psychic Powers and Chinese Kung-Fu
Age: 19
Birthday: September 23
Birthplace: China
Height: 172cm
Weight: 61kg
Blood Type: B
Hobby: Reading Comic Books
Favourite Food: Meat Dumplings
Forte In Sports: Soccer
Personal Treasures: Stuffed Animals
Dislikes: Training
As with Athena, Kensou has been changed design wise to look more like his old Psycho Solder self. The actual damage he inflicts is a little low perhaps, but he has a pretty good movelist and it's not too hard to do some nice combos with him; he's a lot of fun to use. Again, I was never a big Kensou player in the past, but I've found myself using him a bit more this time around.


Chin Gentsai
The Drunken Fist Master

Fighting Style:
All Types of Chinese Kung-Fu (mainly uses Drunken Fist)
Age: 89
Birthday: April 27th
Birthplace: China
Height: 164cm
Weight: 53kg
Blood Type: A
Hobby: Mah-jong, taking naps
Favourite Food: Lemon-marinated salmon, fried rice with lettuce... etc
Forte In Sports: Walking, yo-yo's
Personal Treasures: Liquor
Dislikes: Panda Bears

The final member of the original China Team. Chins costume has reverted to the one he wore in KOF games prior to KOF '99. He has two stances that you can put him in which allow you to execute different moves, and in the right hands Chin Gentsai has some very nice combos. Chin has just the one DM move, the Toukuuhitenhoh, which has a very long range.


Terry Bogard
The Legendary Wolf

Fighting Style:
Martial Arts
Age: 24
Birthday: March 15th
Birthplace: USA
Height: 182cm
Weight: 83kg
Blood Type: O
Hobby: Video Games
Favourite Food: Clubhouse sandwiches
Forte In Sports: Basketball
Personal Treasures: His fathers keepsake, his vintage jeans
Dislikes: Slugs

After wearing his Mark of the Wolves costume for the last two KOF's, Terry has reverted to his old Fatal Fury costume. SNK did originally say that this would be explained in the storyline, but as KOF XII turned out to be a Dream Match it is still unexplained. Either way, Terry is (as always) a very strong all round character, although his move set is a little cut down from before. He has his Power Wave, Crack Shoot, Burning Knuckle and Rising Tackle specials, but that is all. He doesn't have the Power Dunk, which I must admit threw me off completely at first as I have become so used to using it.

His only DM is the Power Geyser, so no Buster Wolf or anything else.


Andy Bogard
The Human Weapon

Fighting Style:
Koppe Martial Arts
Age: 23
Birthday: August 16th
Birthplace: USA
Height: 172cm
Weight: 67kg
Blood Type: A
Hobby: Training
Favourite Food: Fermented soybean (natto) spaghetti
Forte In Sports: Short-track cycling
Personal Treasures: Picturtes from his time in training
Dislikes: Dogs

Terry's brother is finally back after an absence of two games. Unlike many, I have always been fan of Andy, so it's great to see him back. As with Terry, Andy is back to wearing his original Fatal Fury style costume, and has a cut down move set compared to his last King of Fighters appearance, but that doesn't stop him from being a strong character. His included special moves are the Hishoken, Shoryuudan, Zaneiken and the Kuuhaden, while his only remaining DM is the Choureppadan kick.

His whereabouts in the past two games are still a mystery, so we'll probably have to wait until KOF XIII to find out exactly what happened.


Joe Higashi
The Young Champ of Muay Thai

Fighting Style:
Muay Thai Kickboxing
Age: 23
Birthday: March 29th
Birthplace: Japan
Height: 180cm
Weight: 71kg
Blood Type: A B
Hobby: Fighting
Favourite Food: Fried Alligator Bits
Forte In Sports: All forms of combative sports
Personal Treasures: Headband
Dislikes: Dressing up

Joe is as great to use as ever, despite the cut down move list, although he does look a little bit skinnier this time around! His Hurricane Upper projectile is now very fast and travels the full length of the screen, however the hard version will no longer perform a double hurricane. Joe also has his Tiger/Slash Kick, the Bakuretsuken punch, andhis Screw Upper is his solitary DM.


Kim Kaphwan
The Crown Jewel of Taekwondo
Fighting Style: Tae Kwon Do
Age: 30
Birthday: December 21
Birthplace: Korea
Height: 176cm
Weight: 78kg
Blood Type: A
Hobby: Karaoke
Favourite Food: Korean BBQ
Forte In Sports: Gymnastics
Personal Treasures: His wife and two children
Dislikes: Evil

Kim pretty much looks the same as always, and for the most part his move list is the same as usual with no massive changes. Like many of the characters he has just the one DM, the Hououkyaku, which is pretty much the same as before although it can no longer be performed aerially.


Raiden [NEW ENTRY]
The Out-Of-Control Tank

Fighting Style:
Age: 35
Birthday: March 3rd
Birthplace: Australia
Height: 202cm
Weight: 210kg
Blood Type: O
Hobby: Touring Amusement Parks, riding roller coasters
Favourite Food: Steak made from Australian Beef
Forte In Sports: Football
Personal Treasures: His mask collection
Dislikes: Koalas

Raiden is the only new face in The King of Fighters XII, and SNK decided to go for his masked Raiden version, rather than the unmasked version (Big Bear), as they wanted to add another bad guy... the Big Bear version is considered to be good. It's been a while since we last saw Raiden, with his last appearance being in the 3D Fatal Fury game, Wild Ambition, and the Capcom vs SNK series. As you would expect he does a lot of damage, and has three command throws, with one of them being his DM (the Super Raiden Drop).


Ryo Sakazaki
The Invincible Dragon

Fighting Style:
Kyokugen-style Karate
Age: 24
Birthday: August 2nd
Birthplace: Japan
Height: 179cm
Weight: 75kg
Blood Type: O
Hobby: DIY Carpentry
Favourite Food: Rice Cakes, fermented soybeans
Forte In Sports: Sumo
Personal Treasures: Motorcycle that he fixed up himself, horse he received as a gift
Dislikes: Bugs with a lot of legs!

Ryo's stance is back to the AOF style, rather the open armed stance he has had in KOF for years now. Although many characters have reverted back to their older versions (like Kyo having his projectile back), Ryo is still more of a close range fighter with his Kooh-ken still being a short range attack rather than a projectile. Originally I was preferring using Ryo to Robert, but having spent a fair bit of time with both I find Ryo a more powerful character personally.

He is also another character that has more than one DM; he has retained both the Ryuukoranbuu and the Haoushoukouken.


Robert Garcia
The Strongest Tiger

Fighting Style:
Kyokugen style Karate
Age: 24
Birthday: December 25th
Birthplace: Italy
Height: 180cm
Weight: 85kg
Blood Type: AB
Hobby: Producing futuristic concept cars
Favourite Food: Sushi, Chow Mein
Forte In Sports: Motor Sports
Personal Treasures: His car collection
Dislikes: Pickled Scallions

Mr. Steven Seagal look-a-like is back with his original outfit once more, and for the most part his original move set. Like Ryo, Robert Garcia still has his Ryuukoranbuu and Haoushoukouken DM's, but Ryo does have a full screen projectile.

I love using Robert in this game, although as I mentioned above, I think I just about prefer using Ryo in this game.


Ralf Jones
The One-Man Army

Fighting Style:
Martial Arts & Heidern-style assassination arts
Age: 39
Birthday: August 25th
Birthplace: USA
Height: 188cm
Weight: 110kg
Blood Type: A
Hobby: Collecting Knives
Favourite Food: Gum
Forte In Sports: Baseball
Personal Treasures: Medal awarded from the President of the United States
Dislikes: Snakes

The first thing you will notice is that Ralf has suddenly transformed into a walking pile of muscle, and is incredibly big compared to how he used to be. Has he been overusing steroids or what?

Despite having a rather limited moveset he is pretty damn strong and my fastest times against the CPU in time trial have been achieved with him. I can't say too much more however as I have never been a big Ralf player in the past, but the general consensus between his fans seems to be that while good, he's a bit limited now.


Clark Still
Tough & Cool

Fighting Style:
Martial Arts & Heidern Style Assassination Arts
Age: 34
Birthday: May 7th
Birthplace: USA
Height: 187cm
Weight: 105kg
Blood Type: A
Hobby: Collecting guns
Favourite Food: Oatmeal
Forte In Sports: Wrestling
Personal Treasures: His sunglasses
Dislikes: Slugs

While Ralf is certainly limited in KOF XII, Clark seems even more so to me! He only has a couple of special moves and his Ultra Argentine Backbreaker DM. Personally I think he's pretty poor in this tournament, so I don't think he'll be one of the more popular choices in players teams. Sorry Clark fans!



Leona Heidern
The Silent Soldier

Fighting Style:
Martial Arts & Heidern Style Assassination Arts
Age: 18
Birthday: January 10th
Birthplace: Unknown
Height: 176cm
Weight: 66kg
Blood Type: B
Hobby: Visiting factories
Favourite Food: Vegetables
Forte In Sports: Nothing special
Personal Treasures: Nothing special
Dislikes: Blood

After leaving the Ikari Team in KOF XI due to events in her KOF 2003 ending, Leona returns, with a new outfit (a lot skimpier than before, no coat!) and a modified moveset. Her ground saber has changed a lot and depending on the button pressed she can run forwards or backwards, and these can be followed up one after the other to keep her running backards and forwards, whike pressing punch will make her perform a slash... very useful. Leona is a bit different this time around but she's still good.



Fighting Style:
Speed based attack & Orochi style
Age: Unknown
Birthday: April 28th
Birthplace: Unknown
Height: 177cm
Weight: 58kg
Blood Type: O
Hobby: Playing with machinery, scuplture (especially making dolls)
Favourite Food:Chicken
Forte In Sports: Snowboarding
Dislikes: Pigeons, the Chizuru family

A home console version exclusive, Mature was not in the arcade version of KOF XII. As she was supposed to have died at Iori's hands (along with Vice) at the end of KOF '96, it's not certain if she was meant to be in the game as part of the storyline, or only in it as KOF XII is basically a Dream Match. Either way, she is wearing the secratarial outfit that she wore in the cut scenes in KOF '94, albeit with a patch on her right eye.

Mature has a very limited move set with only two specials and one DM.


Elisabeth Branctorche

Fighting Style: Blanc-styled Martial Arts & Light Fist Technique
Age: 25
Birthday: November 11th
Birthplace: France
Height: 174cm
Weight: 58kg
Blood Type: A
Hobby: Wine Tasting
Favourite Food: Wine (Château Latour)
Forte In Sports: Horseback Riding
Dislikes: People who lack faith, irresponsible people

The second of the two console exclusives for KOF XII, Elisabeth is restored to the roster having made her first appearance in KOF XI. With only two special attacks and a special throw, and just the one Desperation Move, along with a lack of particularly good standard moves, she is another limited character. I've seen a few people say she is worth persevering with, but to me she's definitely lower tier.


The Mai Shiranui Mystery:

Well, she is not a playable character, and while this is a shock, I did come up with a possible theory as to where she is. Look closely in the background of the China stage and you might see someone that looks familiar… Mai, is that you? Hmmm, perhaps our favourite “bouncy” ninja has eaten a few too many of her favourite sweet red-bean covered rice balls! With any luck she will hit the gym and be back in time for a future downloadable update patch or sequel…!!!!

I am of course joking, but any review of this game does have to give mention to this particular well endowed character going missing. Previously she was one of the few remaining combatants that had made an appearance in every single game since its inception, but that trend has ended in this latest instalment. Quite why SNK chose to cull her from the line up (especially when a previous piece of promo art on an official SNK site showed Mai) is unknown, but I have heard that her popularity is probably higher in the west than it is amongst Japanese players. I’m not entirely sure that is true, but I’m pretty sure that we haven’t seen the last of her particular assets just yet (OK, OK… I’ve sneakily mentioned “the bewbies” numerous times now in the last couple of paragraphs, I’ll stop!!!).

Another plausible theory is that they couldn’t get certain animations in her standing pose to look right in High Definition, although this is not confirmed… (OK I tried not to, but I couldn’t help it!!!)


There are six stages in KOF XII. The Japanese arena stage is always your initial fight takes place in Arcade mode, and the final fight takes place in a night time version of the same arena.

Japan Arena (Daytime)

This is the first area that you will fight in every time you play arcade mode. It's an massive arena that has thousands of fans watching the fight and waving flags. There is a blimp flying around, and a fairground in the background. The one thing I am not too keen on is the giant clown balloon floating in the middle of the stage (Side Note: I HATE clowns!).

The music offer on the Japan stage starts off a little bland but when it kicks in it's probably one of the more memorable pieces of music in the game in my opinion. You can hear a sample of this music in the SNK Jukebox section!

When the round finishes, confetti is released to celebrate the victor!



The China stage is set in the middle of a marketplace, with market traders and shoppers watching the fight (and quite bizarrely, a panda...). Like many of the people in the backgrounds of KOF XII, most of the crowd here are a little on the ugly side. They are well animated though and there is a hell of a lot going on here, it will probably take a few fights in this location before you notice all the little details!

At the end of every fight, a handful of animals run across the background.



I'm not entirely sure why, but this particular location gives reminds me somewhat of Capcom Vs SNK 2, it definitely has that kind of feel in my opinion. It's a snowy stage with an ice sculpture in the middle, and hundreds of spectators wrapped up in big coats. With all the fairy lights, it's almost a little Christmassy; It's pleasant to look at anyway.

The crowd cheers and the lights begin to flash when someone gets knocked out.


I'm not entirely sure what is going on in this stage. There are hundreds of identical looking guys in the background who are either praying or perhaps worshipping the fighters. In the distance there are a couple of statues and their leader is sat on a throne observing the fight It's a nice looking stage although this doesn't look an awful lot like Egypt to me!

When the fight is over, the people worshipping in the background kind of flip out and wave their arms around.



I have to say that this is certainly a very interesting interpretation of a French tourist resort. It certainly looks nice, has an incredible amount of things going on in the background, and is very colourful... but what is with the rather "rotund" women in the background??? Pretty much every single one of them is a little on the large side to say the least and the majority of them seem to be doing nothing more than stuffing their faces with more and more food. Perhaps this resort is for failed Weight Watchers members or something? It's maybe slightly poor taste, but I found it amusing all the same.

Dolphins jump out of the water at the end of each round.

Japan Arena (Night)

This stage is basically the same as the first Arena stage, but floodlit this time. The daytime arena isn't a bad stage per se, but it is probably my least favourite, while I enjoy the night time version a lot. You can see the flash going off on hundreds of the spectators cameras almost constantly, and fireworks explode overhead. Overall it's quite a good looking venue!

At the end of the fight, more fireworks are set off.

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