Monday, July 07, 2008

The King of Fighters 98: Ultimate Match : PS2 Review

How do you create legends? Some say it takes hard work and dedication, and some say its just pure luck. But this game obviously is the former, since for over 10 years after its released, the original game is still being played on emulators, arcades, consoles and so many more. If you are a fan of King of Fighters 98, you won't be dissapointed at all with this anniversary edition of the same name, replacing the Dream Match, with Ultimate Match.

I'm gonna do a favor to all for a moment. I will call this Ultimate Match only, because this is the same game but rehashed with so many new features added to it, and really fun to execute on. Looking back at other King of Fighters, all of them ties with themselves a story for each group (except for the 2002 edition). But this one was meant as a dream match. Put in 12 teams, put them in also in other variations and flavors, and you get a robust list of nearly 50 fighters packed in a 1998 game. That's a feat to behold, especially at that era. Fast forward to 2008, and now you get 64 characters in it.

We've got new additions for this game, so start with characters. Eiji Kisaragi, Kasumi Todoh, Wolfgang Krauser, Geese Howard, Mr. Big are just a start from the original cast. Add more variations for all the characters (including previous bosses), and it amounts to 64. Don't forget with backgrounds too, since they are also available. This game also takes back old backgrounds from previous games, and remake them to look so new that some are stunning to look at (Notice Goenitz's 96 stage and look at the wind spiral on the top screen. Be amazed).

The biggest addition however was the rebuilding of the modes. I mean, the power modes for each character. From previous Advance and Extra mode (which has been rehashed also), there is now an Ultimate mode for everyone to enjoy. Ever wanted to dash but build power like advance? here's your chance. The Ultimate mode emphasizes on customizing how you fight, in evasion and dash/run techniques along with the power you mode of your choice. It builds a different kind of strategy now. Even the Extra mode was redid to have a stored stock and easily activatable when needed (So that it doesn't have to be turned on when not needed). Really neat.
I remember the 1998 version for the PSX was a great game loaded with a robust galery at the time. The same is applied here, along with new stuff. From movies to pictures, to more art gallery from the Dreamcast version also, you'd be amazed that this edition compiled everything right for the fan.

There are some gripes though. Though the introduction and a few other songs were reinvented and remixed, most of the song retain their original score apparently. You could still hear the arranged soundtrack, but its mainly the same. I had wished for it to be more robust (Considering its an anniversary title), but I'm fine perhaps. the ability to input special moves with trigger buttons is all together gone, and my worst gripe was a very toned down difficulty. I loved the original 98 because it was punishing, and it thoroughly trained me to do better combos. But this one perhaps goes down a bit and would suit more crowds that love the game on a simpler approach.

There's online match, but sadly I couldn't test the mode due to lack of adapter for the PS2. As an added and perhaps the biggest bonus, you also get to play the original 98 game on the same disc. Though it is the emulated version from the Neo Geo board, this is by far also one of the best reasons to purchase this game considering that you get 2 games, a new and nostalgic version of it.

The gameplay is fluid, and you get new moves with most characters (Chin can now super you and make you drink with his wine, I got hit by one. And Clark has an awesome aerial catch and throw.) Most commands also had been refined and retuned (Be amazed with Orochi Yashiro's new catch. It's too fast.) for the better pleasure of playing and enjoyment.

For 10 years this game has stood against the tests of time. People still play it in aracades and challenge one another. A phenomenal and exceptionate game indeed for the fighting crew that only went against the likes of Marvel vs Capcom 2. For fans of the original, never miss this game. For fans of fighting games, this one will give you a robust experience indeed, and for all, this is one fighting game that you could really spend hours mastering each character. I would've given the original 9.5/10 score when I was younger, and now this title truly deserves my 10. Truly, have fun!

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