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The King of Fighters Collection: The Orochi Saga

13:1226/03/2009Posted by D+PAD Staff2 Comments

SNK aren’t exactly shy at putting out compilation discs, so it’s with no real surprise that this collection of the early King of Fighters games has managed to grace the PSP. The Orochi Saga is named after the plot behind King of Fighters ’94 through ’97, focusing mostly on series antagonist Rugal Bernstein, a nasty arms dealer who eventually becomes a cyborg and who is always desperately trying to harness the power of ancient demons. Like you do.

01Whilst not part of the Orochi storyline, ‘98 has been bundled in and serves as an endpoint for the compilation. The earlier games have their own individual merits, but once you get to ’98, considered by many to be the superlative highlight of the series, you’re hardly likely to be going backwards. It’s as much a history lesson as it is a gaming endeavour, highlighting a fifteen-year old gaming series that has forever lived in the collective periphery.

’94 is the first game in the series, and is only really useful for nostalgia purposes. As a fighting game it’s very rough around the edges, lacking the intensity and fluidity of subsequent iterations. The idea is solid, though; a ragtag amalgamation of, primarily, Fatal Fury and Art of Fighting. The three on three principals, integral to the series, was clearly the main development focus. However, there’s teething problems, such as the team mechanic being set in stone; you pick from blocks of three fighters, without any options of constructing your own roster.

It’s not terrible and certainly not as bad as some of the drudge littering up arcades at the time. Its infancy is assured, though, when compared to the sheer playability of Capcom’s efforts at the time.

02With ’95, SNK managed to strike gold. A then-astronomical roster of twenty six unique characters (Super Street Fighter II Turbo only managed 12, for example) gave people new to the series more possibilities than they could comprehend. The Team Edit function meant that you could now mix-and-match players, and the gameplay was tweaked to be functional and entertaining alongside technologically impressive.

It was ’95 that really kicked off the Orochi Saga, peppering up the narrative, introducing lovable antagonist Iori – or ‘that one with the red hair’ – and pitting series frontrunner Kyo against his dad in the penultimate boss fight.

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