#ThrowBackThursday: King of Fighters ’94

Beat-em ups and I don’t generally get on, its definitely a genre I’ve struggled to be good at over the years despite me actually quite liking them. I did get good enough at Soul Calibur, Tekken 3 and Tekken Tag Tournament 2 to win bouts amongst friends, but taking the latter online I was always absolutely steam rollered. Games like those by Capcom and SNK have always left me struggling to even do the most basic of moves consistently, but games like Street Fighter are always used as a barometer for how much of a gamer one is, not that I buy into such things nor care about carrying the title of “gamer”, especially in the now toxic, post GamerGate world we are in today.

So why have I done a #ThrowBackThursday for an old-skool 2D fighter by one of the masters of the genre? Well, because I decided to have a play of it via the SNK Arcade Classics Vol. 1 release on PSP. I’d never played an SNK fighter until I bought an import Dreamcast back in 2006 or something and it had a copy of King of Fighters 99 Dream Match bundled with it. But ’94 is where it all began after SNK had decided to launch a new series featuring characters from their other fighting games, thus King of Fighters.

Unlike other fighters where you pick one brawler to fight through a series of one-on-one until you reach the end credits, KoF’94 tasks you with picking a themed team of three, seperated into countries. I always went with Team UK which features Mai Shiranui (Fatal Fury), Yuri Sakazaki (Art of Fighting) and King (also Art of Fighting). You pick the order they then appear. When one is defeated the next joins the fight, and likewise for your opponent, in a winner stays on manner, health is slightly replenished at the end of a round and you go again.

As I’ve said before I’ve always struggled with these sorts of games, doing quarter circles and the like have always been a challenge for me, I’m not entirely sure why when others find it so easy, and I can do them, just historically not on a consistent basis and thus I’ve nearly always abandoned the fighter of the moment. Now this version of KoF’94 doesnt make things easy by locking away its commands list as an unlockable but thankfully we all have search engines available at our finger tips and after laying out the light and heavy punches and kicks in a way that felt more natural to me (which I think is similar to Tekkens layout (however Tekken uses left and right kick/punch rather than Light and Heavy)) I was able to start pulling off 2 moves each for Mai and Yuri, although King I’m less accurate with. I’ve since begun to be able to use the dodge button (located on the left shoulder button) but quite often forget its there and have learnt how to fill the Power gauge but I’m yet to know how to use it.

That being said, I’m still pretty awful. Normally I can make it through a few stages in single player Arcade Modes on these games without loads of practice, and with Soul Calibur and Tekken I’d regularly see the end credits and unlock more things, but here its rare I get beyond Stage 1 and I’v’e not made it out of Stage 2 despite spending all weekend jumping on the game for a quick bout when my eyes would need a rest from my current book.

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