The King of Fighters, officially abbreviated KoF, is a popular fighting game franchise from SNK/Playmore.

Originally conceived as a crossover between The Art of Fighting, Fatal Fury and older games, the series eventually became a mainstay of SNK, with over 100 characters having been introduced into the series over 17 main series games.

The plot of these games centres around an annual "King of Fighters" tournament, which series main characters Kyo Kusanagi and Iori Yagami participate in, amongst many other characters. However, midway through the competition, evil forces intervene, forcing the winning (player's) team to take action and defeat these forces, often manifested as a boss character or two.

This series is also infamous for its SNK Boss Syndrome, with bosses possessing exceedingly good range and priority on their attacks. Many of its bosses have been known to be the first examples of numerous boss-style attacks, such as screen fillers and energy pillars.

Main Arcs

As of the latest game, The King of Fighters XIII, there have been 4 major arcs:

  • The Rugal Saga ('94), involving the defeat of Rugal Bernstein and his crime empire.
  • The Orochi Saga ('95, '96 '97), involving the Orochi and its servants seeking to destroy Earth in the name of nature.
  • The N.E.S.T.S Chronicles ('99, '00, '01), involving the organisation N.E.S.T.S and its leader Igniz's plans to become a god and take over the world.
  • The Tales of Ash ('03, XI, XII, XIII), involving Ash Crimson embroiling the main cast into conflict against the mysterious Those From the Past who seek to reawaken Orochi.

In addition, there has also been a Maximum Impact arc, which uses new characters and 3D models, and Dream Match games, which eschew canon to put as many characters together in one game as possible.

Series Mechanics

This series is a four button fighter (2 punches, 2 kicks) with capabilities to use six button-controllers effectively.

Unique mechanics to this series include:

  • Rolling: By pressing A+B (Button-x+Button-a or Button-z in M.U.G.E.N), the character will roll and is fully invulnerable during the roll, but not during recovery. This can be done forwards or backwards on the ground, or when falling to reduce downtime. Rolls can also be done out of a guard at the cost of one meter to escape pressure.
  • Blowback Attack: By pressing C+D (Button-y+Button-b or Button-c in M.U.G.E.N), the character will deal a powerful attack that knocks the opponent away. Can be done out of guard at the cost of one meter
  • Custom Combo System: varies between games:
    • 2002 and 2002 Unlimited Match featured Max Mode, where consuming one power bar gave a custom combo state until a super (at reduced cost in this mode) was used or after some time.
    • XIII features Drive Cancel. A separate meter for Drive was created, which builds up over the fight. When filled, it holds two drive stock, which can be used for EX specials or special cancels. Alternatively, from a full bar, Hyper Drive mode can be activated, which functions like the old Max Mode (without reduced super cost).

Characters and Stages

The King of Fighters
Orochi Saga CharactersGeese HowardHeavy D!Iori YagamiLeona HeidernLucky GlauberMai ShiranuiMr. KarateRobert GarciaRugal BernsteinRyo SakazakiShermieTerry BogardYuri Sakazaki
NESTS Saga CharactersK'King LionKyo-1Vanessa
Ash Saga CharactersAsh CrimsonHuman Saiki
Other CharactersGustab MunchausenMakoto Mizoguchi
StagesBlack NoahDestroyed Rose StadiumKOF XII Stadium NightMisted Rose StadiumSky NoahThe Cloister of JudgementThe Different SpaceThe Final Hall