KING OF FIGHTERS 98 – TAG TEAM TRIUMPH

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Long before “Smash Bros” and “Marvel VS Capcom” there was a fighting game series that pitted heroes from different games that came before it, engaged in an ultimate battle set to determine who would be the ultimate champion. The franchise got a fitting name, “King of Fighters”.

Initially just an arcade game by SNK which allowed you to pick your fighters from a slew of the developer’s previous games (“Fatal Fury”, “Art of Fighting”, “Ikari Warriors” and “Psycho Soldier”) with some original characters added in a finely mixed VS fighting game. The first installment saw the light of day in 1994 and it was a smashing success. Each new year brought new sequels, with a few gaps here and there, and the newest game at the present being “King of Fighters XIV” which was released for PlayStation 4 on August 23, 2016.

The “King of Fighters” games are special because the player gets to assemble a team of three (plus one) fighters that will be battling against the others, and utilize their special moves and attacks during the fights. Another special tidbit is the fact that games have a deep overarching story, sometimes spreading across several titles and/or years. (The “plus one” fighter is a later addition to the series – he, she or it just briefly pops onto the screen, uses its special ability to help us and disappears).

Yet another proof of the game’s longevity and appeal is the fact that its different variations have been ported to (takes a deep breath) Neo Geo, Neo Geo CD, Sega Saturn, PlayStation, Game Boy, Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation Network, Virtual Console, Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, and a toaster (I’m kidding about the toaster)… And, of course, there are versions for iOS and Android.

The mobile phone versions are a remake of “King of Fighters 98”, the game that doesn’t have any plot since it takes place in a “dream world” – which is only an excuse that makes it possible for the authors to include fighters from all the previous games, even those who were supposed to be dead in continuity.

There is a single player mode, as well as a local (via Bluetooth), and online multiplayer, and a choice to be made between four and six buttons configuration. After nearly every level, you unlock another one of more than thirty playable characters, and that is when the real fun begins – the only limit to assembling your dream team are the characters’ energy limits (but those can be expanded by shilling some cash, since this is a mobile game after all) but once you make your ideal crew, there is nothing stopping you from making it to the top.

The next “proper” spinoff in the series, called “SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy” will be released early this September, so consider playing “King of Fighters 98” on your phone for a trial run. It’s far less complicated than it might sound, and well worth your time.

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