The King of Fighters 2002

The King of Fighters 2002 is a 2D versus fighting game from a lesser known franchise. It is no SF or MK, but it does have plenty of fighting action.

Pros

There are 39 characters to choose from. I have enough trouble getting my head around 3, so I have not tried them all. As opponents though, they do behave different enough to be their own characters.

If you lose a match and elect to continue, you get to choose an advantageous adjustment for the next match. You can choose to drop the difficulty level of the AI, lower the health of the opposition or give yourself an energy gauge boost. This continue option is on by default but can be changed in the game options of the starting menu before selecting “launch”.

The default match setting is 3 vs 3 fighting. Each player picks 3 different characters and selects what order they fight in. Each character fights until their health reaches zero or win the whole match. There is no tagging different characters to enter the fight, but it still makes for an interesting match with skills required for different characters and also varying strategies depending on who the opponent is.

Cons

The keyboard control is one massive con point for The King of Fighters 2002. The keys cannot be remapped. This by itself would not be that big a deal except the keys shown in the options are partially wrong. ‘Q’ and ‘W’ do not work. ‘Z’ and ‘A’ are used instead. This makes the game buttons A,B,C,D map to the keys Z,X,C,A, which makes this con point even worse. Who on earth uses Z,X,C,A as fighting buttons? Z,X,A,S, OK. Or Z,X,C,V all in one line also makes sense, but not what they have.

The game does not support my old generic digital USB 2-Axis 8-Button Gamepad. Windows 10 detects it fine, but the game just says bugger off.

Once the game has “launched”, the game options settings cannot be accessed. So, settings like continue options, number of rounds per match and difficulty level cannot be changed after the game has launched.

The audio sounds washed out to me. I wonder if all direct arcade emulation games sound like this or whether this game just sounds like that to begin with.

Other Points

Moving backwards automatically activates block, so more like Street Fighter and less like Mortal Kombat.

The graphics are low resolution, but the game still looks OK with smooth animations. When playing in windowed mode there is no way to resize the window, so the only view choices are full screen or small window.

Biases

I have only played The King of Fighters 2002 against the CPU.

I am not good at versus fighting games with Mortal Kombat (1992) being the only game that I completed and only with one character.

The only other versus fighting games I have played are Mortal Kombat 2, Street Fighter 2/Turbo/Alpha/Zero/Too/Many/Names/Cannot/Remember, Tekken 3, Soul Blade/Edge and Budokan. I enjoyed all of them despite not being good at versus fighting games.

I got KOF 2002 as a freebie when GOG was giving it away.

On the easiest difficulty level I managed to reach the boss (I think it’s the boss) but could never defeat him.

The King of Fighters 2002 is available DRM-free from GOG.com.

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