The King of Fighters '98
SNK has long been known as a company of fighting games. A short time after the height of Street Fighter II, it released a flood of fighting titles that mimicked the feel and look of the SF series, but with its own sense of style (this was helped by the fact that SNK hired away most of the programmers of SFII from Capcom). Games like Fatal Fury, Art of Fighting and Samurai Shodown stuck out above a crowd of clones and carved their own place in the arcade fighting game genre. After that, SNK used an idea arcade players had previously only dreamed of, a combination of some of their most popular titles in one: King of Fighters.
King of Fighters '98 is the fifth in the series, and it shows no sign of slowing down now. This newest incarnation includes at least 36 characters made up of fighters and Bosses from the previously mentioned games, as well as other old-school hits like Ikari Warriors. Not a lot is known about the actual mechanics as of press time, but there is a new kind of power meter for specials, with new and different levels. The teams are broken down into basically what they are: Fleroes, Masters, American Sports (who could forget the cool football and basketball guys from previous games), Fatal Fury, the special team from KoF '97, Art of Fighting, Women Fighters, Ikari Warriors and more. The Orochi team seems to be the heavy hitters of the game; it includes Bosses from previous games, like Rugal from KoF '97.
The amount of strategy in this game is staggering to say the least. The number of characters does not mean that SNK skimped on gameplay, it plays every bit as good as any of their games. Each character has many different regular, special and desperation moves, as well as a new set of specials to choose from. The one bad thing about the game is that you have played as most of these characters before, and they do play pretty much the same as they always have. If you are a huge fan of SNK fighting games, however, there is no doubt this will be your favorite fighting game of the year.