My passion for Street Fighter IV may be coming to an end. Strong words, I know, especially when you take into account all the hours I've poured into it in the past few months. I can't say that I'll miss playing with opponents who exploit online lag shenanigans or their colorful poetry, but my experience has still been enjoyable. It's just that now I am beginning to explore other options. You already know that Capcom has earned my vote of support for Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, which is hitting the States this winter, and BlazBlue may end up being another contender. However, long before these piqued my interest, my heart had been set on King of Fighters XII.
KOF XII is bold, definitive proof that 2D fighters are not dead.
So what makes this particular edition so special? After all, it's not like I've spent the past few years operating as the voice of SNK titles on TNL (we've left that to the real experts). Well, it's pretty simple actually: I like variety and it's foolish of me to indulge in one fighter exclusively day and night; not to mention the competition is starting to branch out to play other games, too.
King of Fighters XII is being touted as the ultimate fighter of 2009, and while this could spark an upset among those who treasure SFIV, the argument is certainly one of the more valid and healthy discussions the community needs to engage in. Aesthetics tends to be one of the greatest concerns for most, especially for those who admire 2D art. The high-res sprites and rich, vivid backgrounds score huge props from me, as I've always loved hand-drawn artwork. KOF XII is bold, definitive proof that 2D fighters are not dead. Of course, it's all about the gameplay, and fans in particular can be assured that the latest edition will not disappoint - that is, unless you're hung up on the fact Mai isn't in the game.
At its core, KOF XII represents the classic SNK fighting philosophy that you all have come to know and love, but in an effort to make the game more accessible to the casual audience, players can now opt for the standard control set or take advantage of a "simple mode" option à la Capcom vs. SNK 2 EO, where special moves can be executed with less-frustrating command inputs. I can only imagine this could create a brief period where the King of Fighters community may see its own wave of "flowchart" players and button mashers, but I am not hating. If their support leads to the continued growth and development of future fighting releases, I say bring it on. That just means the diehard players always need to bring their A-game and shouldn't second-guess any competition they go against.
I had hoped to uncover a few more details about the multiplayer mode, which I am told is leagues above SFIV's. Matchmaking is extremely important to me and I am somewhat bitter at how players advance (or conversely, how the less fortunate players are penalized for losses). Shane Bettenhausen, Director of Business Development at publisher Ignition Entertainment, told us that you could also create online clans, which should definitely help contribute to the competitive spirit and keep players coming back for more. It will be interesting to see how this component plays out when the retail release debuts. I'd also be curious to hear about how SNK/Playmore is going to handle ragequitting, a problem that occurs way too often for my liking and, fortunately, was addressed in the new SFIV patch. I apologize for not getting those details earlier, but we were sidetracked by my ultimate defeat in the upcoming Samurai Showdown release. This may call for a post-E3 interview to get those answers, wouldn't you say?