The King Of Fighters: Dm 1999
It was like KOF 94 was the dawning of a new age for SNK, after having ripped off Capcom year after year. Since then, SNK's been busy porting their flagship fighting game to other consoles with dubious results. In a strange bout of deja vu, I got the same feeling after playing KOF DM99: SNK finally got it right with the Dreamcast version. Even if this is just KOF 98, there's not much here to complain about--unless you're a real stickler about the series. The backgrounds are now a mixture of 3D objects and 2D backgrounds, and depending on what you prefer, this can be good or bad. Overall though, the graphics look brighter and more vibrant. Unfortunately, the higher resolution of the Dreamcast has also made the sprites in KOF look a little dated by today's standards. Another complaint is that unlike the cartridge soundtrack, the music is now redbooked off the GD-ROM so that it has to reset in between rounds. Most importantly, KOF DM99 competently lives up to its KOF 98 counterpart in the gameplay area. The Neo-Geo Pocket Color support was also a surprising highlight for me. Your R-2 characters can actually learn new moves by downloading data from your Dreamcast VMU. If you're a fan of the KOF series, DM99 is a must-buy. Besides, what other fighter is actually more stylish than the cats in KOF?
This series is starting to show its age. Although it still has that nostalgic old-school feel, KoF DM 1999 really should look a lot better (at least a Street Fighter III level of graphical quality). But even though the sprites are small and the frames of animation are too few, this game should tide over fans of traditional 2D fighters until SFA3 comes out. DM 1999 has tons of characters and that old-style gameplay that requires skill, not memorization, to master.
What we have here is an old-school 2D fighter for old-school fighting fans. As you'd expect, control is spot-on and you get an enormous collection of characters to choose from. But then we're talking SNK characters--who don't have quite the cachet of Capcom's stars--so you gotta be ultra-hardcore to get excited about this thing. The gameplay is just what you'd expect; the same Street Fighter-inspired moves work for each fighter.
If you're not a hardcore fighting game fan, you're probably best steering clear of KOF. While it's a more than competent port of a more than competent game, the underlying fighting engine is really starting to show its age, and to be honest--it doesn't look like a Dreamcast game. The controls are solid (even if the moves list is predictable) and the character design is fine, but this will always be a 'niche' franchise, and it's not for everyone.