The King of Fighters: The Orochi Saga PS2 Review

The early 90’s saw the release of Capcom’s Street Fighter II, which popularised and forever changed the one-on-one fighting game genre. SNK had responded with the likes of Fatal Fury, Art of Fighting, and in 1994, combining characters from both games (as well as the likes of Ikari Warriors and Psycho Soldier), The King of Fighters series was born.

As it stands today the 12th instalment in the series is in the works, although this collection brings together The Orochi Saga, which is the first four games in the series, as well as a fifth game, the dream match edition that was The King of Fighters ‘98.

The first game in the series, The King of Fighters ’94, introduced some mechanics that have remained popular until this very day. The three-on-three battles meant that matches could go on for five rounds before the victor emerged, with fresh characters jumping into the fray when others were defeated, continuing until an entire trio of any one team had been punched out. It’s a shame that they weren’t kind enough to include the 2004 PS2 remake, The King of Fighters ‘94 Rebout, which has so far only been released in Japan.

The King of Fighters ‘95 was a safe sequel with few significant changes. A fan pleasing addition was the option to create your very own team of three fighters, which meant that you weren’t stuck with a particular trio of characters, although preset teams were also an option. Historically this is also where Iori Yagami made his debut, a fighter that has become one of the most recognisable icons in the series.

The King of Fighters ‘96 saw the famed dodge mechanic turned into a roll, balance issues were looked at and the game was more focussed on up and close battles as opposed to tossing projectiles from a distance. It was also given a significant graphical upgrade and Super Desperation moves were thrown into the mix.

The King of Fighters ‘97 gave you the option to switch between either a meter that could be charged up for specials or another that just sensibly filled up as the fights wore on.

The final game in the package is The King of Fighters ‘98: Dream Match Never Ends, and as the Orochi Saga story arc came to a head in the 1997 game this has no connection to that storyline, in fact it has no story whatsoever. The game changed very little, instead it was a love letter to the fans, bringing together a massive amount of characters from all the previous games. Absent fighters returned and certain characters were miraculously brought back from the dead to make all these dream matches possible. Again, like The King of Fighters ‘94, the game received the remake treatment with The King of Fighters ‘98 Ultimate Match, released earlier this year in Japan.

So that’s all the games then, extras come in the form of a 20 mission challenge mode, with unlock-able music and artwork. This will please long time fans looking for a little extra in the compilation.

The King of Fighters Collection: The Orochi Saga is a piece of history that fans of the series will treasure and certainly something to look into if you want to discover some of the best 2D fighting games from the 1990’s.