Jahanzeb Khan
28 Nov, 2010

The King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match Review

360 Review | Behold The King, The King of Kings.
Last year, SNK Playmore released The King of Fighters XII, and it was a rushed, lacking and a mess of a game. The only it thing it had going for it was its new graphics engine and a lot of the things that made the series so famous were almost non-existent, such as the massive character roster and the vast number of moves and techniques. While we await the release of The King of Fighters XIII (which is shaping up to be a proper game with substance), SNK Playmore has given us a port of The King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match exclusively on Xbox Live Arcade.

The King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match (KOF 2002 UM) is a remake/reboot of the original The King of Fighters 2002, much like how The King of Fighters 98 Ultimate Match was a remake/reboot of The King of Fighters 98. KOF 2002 and KOF 98 are both dubbed as ‘Dream Match’ games, breaking away from the main story arc and just bringing together only the best and most popular characters of the series, regardless of timeline.

KOF 2002 UM follows the same gameplay style of the classic KOF games, picking a team of three to battle against other such teams. Unlike other modern KOF games, this one doesn’t have strikers. The game utilises a very traditional Power Gauge system that allows you to perform super moves, and has a variety of different offensive, defensive, counter and evasion techniques, including the MAX mode where characters get powered up for a short period of time. The devastating MAX supers are also present in this game, and are an impressive sight to behold and very satisfying to pull off. There are also a wide range of special moves and supers for each character, and the variety and styles of attacks is impressive. What’s wonderful about KOF 2002 UM (and KOF 98 UM for that matter) is that it is perhaps one of the most mechanically sound and accessible fighting games you will ever play. The level of polish in the battle system gives it enough potential to become a timeless classic. It is simple to grasp and get used to, but has immense depth for dedicated players. It’s no PhD like Guilty Gear or BlazBlue,and it’s certainly not as straightforward as Street Fighter, it instead falls somewhere in the middle. Obviously you will need a proper fighting game peripheral to fully enjoy the game, but that’s a given.

WAH!!! You scared me!!

WAH!!! You scared me!!
The most impressive aspect of the game is its character roster, with over 66 fighters to choose from. This is a big feat for a fighting game, and even with such a vast number and variety of characters the game balance is quite spot on for the most part. One of the biggest challenges in a fighting game is maintaining character balance, and the larger the roster gets, the more difficult it becomes to maintain that proper balance. Fortunately, KOF 2002 UM actually maintains good balance for the most part and is broken only by a few cheap boss characters. Given the size of the roster, the character balance issues aren’t very severe and you will be enjoying fair fights where it all comes down to skill.

The roster includes fan favourites such as Iori Yagami, Kyo Kusanagi, Mai Shiranui, Joe Higashi, Blue Mary, Athena, Leona, Terry Bogard and just about all the iconic and classic characters. It also has many of the newer characters from the post KOF 98 era, such as K, Kula Diamond, Angel, Whip and Vanessa. The roster also includes several boss characters, classic versions of certain characters as well the Orochi characters from the Orochi saga (KOF 94-KOF 97). Completely new and exclusive to KOF 2002 UM is Nameless, a really cool character with an impressive design and a familiar but awesome fighting style. The roster really is a diverse and impressive mix of characters, with each possessing their own unique style of fighting, making the game immensely re-playable.

KOF 2002 UM offers the standard modes of play available in most home versions of KOF, with Team Play, Single Play, Versus, Practice, Endless (think survival mode) and a Challenge mode designed to help you get grips with the more subtle techniques. The Xbox Live play is present and fully functional, and the net code is quite good as the matches we had online ran very smoothly with some minor lag against players with poor connection. What’s available is good enough and there is enough in KOF 2002 UM to keep fighting fans occupied.

Worth getting for this amazing roster alone.

Worth getting for this amazing roster alone.
The other remarkable aspect of KOF 2002 UM is its soundtrack, which is without a doubt the best soundtrack ever produced for a KOF game. The sound quality is amazing and the variety in music really makes battles that more engaging. The soundtrack is a mix of genres such as rock, techno, pop and jazz, and it also includes a variety of different instruments with our favourites being the air guitar heavy tracks.

KOF 2002 UM utilizes the pre-KOF XII graphics engine, so it does have a very retro look to it especially in terms of the character sprites, animations and special effects. That said, it is a unique visual style with a bit of cool edginess to it. The backdrops have been given a makeover and have plenty of artistic detail and colour. With this port, the game applies a smoothing/softening effect which makes the character models look clean and smooth, unlike the jaggier look of the other versions. Even with that enhancement, the game still looks very retro by today’s standards. The art work of this game is quite stylish and well done, KOF games have always featured some really stylish and cool looking characters and the new portraits captures that nicely.

The King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match is the easily the best King of Fighters game ever produced. Fighting games have come a long way now, with games like Street Fighter IV, BlazBlue and the upcoming Marvel vs Capcom 3 and The King of Fighters XIII pushing the genre into a new era. Sure, The King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match is quite retro from a technical standpoint, but for 800 Microsoft Points ($AU13), you are getting the biggest and best playing The King of Fighters game ever made (period).
The Score
The King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match is quite retro from a technical standpoint and the 2D fighting genre has moved on to the next level, but for 800 Microsoft Points, you are getting the biggest and best playing The King of Fighters game ever made (period). 8
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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3 years ago
Sweeeeeeet. Was rather annoyed that they never made the original Xbox release backwards compatible.
3 years ago
I have been on the fence with this one for ages....
hmmmmm what to do
3 years ago
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  03/11/2010 (Confirmed)

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