King of Fighters 99
Original release date: July 22nd, 1999
Release Date on PSN: May 14th, 2009
This game is a fighting game, and the story equates to about three paragraphs of written dialogue between fights. There is an arcade mode that is about six fights long, and I think they really didn’t stretch themselves for that, there is a save function, they should have at least made the story function long enough to fight every character in the game. You can’t really fault this game for a bad story though, because it really doesn’t have one.
The gameplay in this game is great, the combat system is deep just like all king of fighters games (I have played a few in the arcades). All the character have unique moves that are worth learning but most of them you can figure out yourself using the standard fighting move button combinations. The interesting thing in this game though are the amazing amount of combos that you can use to juggle your opponent while have them engulfed in flame for instance. I spent most of my time with Kyo as my main character and there must be 10-12 moves for him that just made the game so enjoyable.
There are special attacks that you can learn as well, because you have a power bar that fills up you might as well use it to enact a ton of damage on your opponent. They’re sometimes tough to pull off but do enough damage to make it worth it (adding that strategic element). These same special moves also become “desperation” moves when you only have a little bit of life remaining, and they can eat away almost half of an opponent’s life bar. It has gotten me though a few tough matches for sure.
There are a ton of game modes to play, team play, single play, practice and vs. modes. They all play well, and the PS3’s d-pad is certainly up to the challenge. It’s too bad that the emulator for the PS3 doesn’t allow for custom button mapping though, it could have made things a little more interesting using the analog stick (probably wouldn’t have improved it, but at least I wanted to try).
There are a few warnings I should give you while playing this one through on your PSP though, I played for about 10 minutes with the D-pad on the portable console and it took a big bite out of my thumb. I had a huge blister and am writing this review of it now. I was ready to call it a failure on the PSP, but I switched it over to analog stick control and I even found I was better on the PSP than I was with the D-pad on the PS3 controller. Odd… Also sort of annoying because before going to bed it’s the kiss of death starting up a game and then realizing it’s 330 and you should have been in bed hours ago.
The challenge on this game can be harrowing, but it’s nothing a little practice can’t cure, and I haven’t gotten tired of it yet after around five hours of playtime.
The graphics on a tv aren’t that great (the pixels are a tad on the large side), but on the PSP it looks really good. The backgrounds are interesting and change as you go to different rounds, but the animations are excellent and the game moves smoothly and without lag. There is a bit of an issue with load times on the PS3 though, even between rounds there’s a bit of a loading screen that takes you out of the action for just a few too many seconds. Even showing the winning animation at the end requires a loading screen. I was a bit taken aback when I saw these, but on the PSP if you switch the load time to fast (which you can’t do on the PS3’s emulator) they’re almost instantaneous.
The PSP is the best console to play this game on for sure.
How it holds up today
King of Fighters 99 is a fun accessible fighter that can be a blast if you stick with it. The gameplay is solid and the game runs really smooth. I also found it to be a bit addictive so I’m going to have to delete if from my hard-drive if I plan to finish any more work. Certainly worth a look if you like the series, and at less than 200 megs it’s easy to keep on your PSP’s memory stick for occasional matches while waiting for the bus. Games like this live or die on their gameplay, and this one certainly delivers.