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King of Fighters EX: Neoblood

by Andres Rojas - July 20, 2001, 4:48 pm PDT

The King of Fighters is alive and kicking, and its making its way to the GBA! Character and gameplay predictions included!

SNK isn't dead yet.

One of the greatest fighting game series of all time (and my personal favorite), is living on through the death of it's parent company, and is continuing onto Nintendo's Game Boy Advance courtesy of Marvelous Entertainment.

King of Fighters (KoF) has its roots in one of SNK's oldest games, Fatal Fury. This game featured three playable fighters facing off against the crime lord of Southtown, Gesse Howard, in his King of Fighters tournament. Its sequel continued the saga by introducing a larger cast of characters (now all fully playable), and a new enemy to face Wolfgang Krauser.

After the success of the Fatal Fury franchise, SNK then expanded and enhanced the franchise in nearly every way imaginable. By fleshing out the storyline, fine tuning the gameplay mechanics, and increasing the series' potential, SNK developed the King of Fighters series. After the one-on-one fighting style of Fatal Fury, SNK upgraded the game mechanics by allowing for 3-on-3 team battles, which has since become the defining benchmark of the King of Fighters series. With each passing year, came another sequel, and with each sequel came continuing plot and character developments, subtle gameplay changes, and the introduction of new fighters to the mix. Starting with KoF '94 and continuing with yearly updates up until KoF 2000, SNK continued to allow the legacy of the series to grow and prosper. While it is highly debatable (and among fighting game fanatics it's always been a hot topic) if each successive game is better than the last, none can deny that each incarnation of the series is a solid title.

As noted earlier, the King of Fighters series has a long and intricate storyline backing it up, which is far too large a story to be covered in the scope of this preview. Fortunately, it's exhaustively detailed in Kailu Lantis' excellent FAQ: Tormented Battles: The Story of the King of Fighters Tournament, which can be found at GameFAQs in the King of Fighters '99 section.

Apparently, Marvelous Entertainment's newest incarnation of the King of Fighters series is said to take place sometime between KoF '97 and KoF '99. Those who have played KoF '98 know that the storyline does not truly advance beyond what was offered in KoF '97, and so it only remains to be seen if Marvelous Entertainment can fill the void that SNK left behind. While there is little concrete information available, much can be surmised from the screenshots released and the legacy of the series itself.

It seems that the game will take most of it's characters, fighting styles, and gameplay mechanics from KoF '99. The only thing apparently missing from KoF '99 seems to be the Striker system. Introduced in KoF '99, the Striker system allowed for a fourth member of the team to be chosen to be able to be called into battle for a single combo of attacks a certain number of times per match. For comparison's sake, this is most similar to the Assist system used in the original Marvel vs. Capcom. Unfortunately, it seems that this system has been removed from the game in favor of the basic 3-on-3 battles that have been the mainstay of the series.

Here is a list of expected characters organized by possible teams with a quick insight into each character plus the probability that (s)he will be in the GBA game:

Hero Team

Micheal Jackson wannabe
Background: A relatively new entry in the tournament, K' is shrouded in mystery, as even he seems to be in the dark concerning his past. Possessing skills eerily reminiscent of the legendary Kyo Kusanagi, he is a fighter not to be reckoned with.

Probability: It is unknown which Hero team will be used in this incarnation of King of Fighters. K' was a new entry in KoF '99, so his inclusion in this game is a bit murky.

Is that a rocket in your pocket?
Background: Much like K', Maxima is a newcomer to King of Fighters, and his background is also unknown. His superior strength and massive body, which is reinforced by a special battle armor, makes him a strong entry in the tournament.

Probability: See K'.

'A flower's life's brief.' Huh?! @_@
Benimaru Nikaido
Background: Second-in-command to Kyo for many years in Japan's Hero Team, he is a master of "Shooting", a variation of Muay Thai, and has the power to charge electricity through his fists. He considers himself to be the most handsome fighter to have ever lived.

Probability: Confirmed. Check out the screenshot here.

Fatal Fury Team

The Lone Wolf
Terry Bogard
Background: Champion of the first two King of Fighters tournaments, Terry owes much to his late father, Jeff Bogard. A master of the Hakkyokuseiken style taught to him by his father, Terry began his quest for the sole purpose of exacting revenge on Geese Howard for murdering his father. Now he lives only for the fight, taking on the best the world has to offer.

Probability: Confirmed. Check out screenshots here, here and tons more here.

Flying Meteor Fist!
Andy Bogard
Background: Brother of Terry, and son of the late Jeff Bogard, Andy swore he would kill Geese or die in the attempt. After years of training in the Kopo-ken style of martial arts under Hanzo Shiranui, he attempted to defeat Geese in battle, but after a long drawn out battle he was defeated. Now that his brother Terry defeated and killed Geese, Andy continues his quest to perfect Kopo-ken and one day surpass his brother.

Probability: Confirmed. Check out screenshots here, here and tons more here.

Tauntmaster Supreme!
Joe Higashi
Background: When Andy Bogard went to Japan to perfect his skills, he met Joe Higashi and the two became fast friends. Coming to the Bogards' aid in their battle to defeat Geese, Joe has become a close friend of Andy's. He is the world champion of Muay Thai kickboxing. A bit of a blowhard, Joe is always striving to become a better fighter, and has proven to be a most loyal friend to the Bogards.

Probability: Highly probable. He is a mainstay in the Fatal Fury Team. Even though Mai Shiranui was moved to the Fatal Fury team in KoF '99, and could potentially replace Joe as the third fighter in the team, she has always been more at home as a part of the Gorgeous Team.

Art of Fighting Team

How can you NOT love the inspiration for Dan Hibiki?!
Ryo Sakazaki
Background: Ever since his father's decision to retire from the tournament, Ryo has become heir to the Kyokugenryo style of fighting. Stubborn, friendly, and over-protective of his sister Yuri, Ryo has been training hard to show the world the power of Kyokugenryo.

Probability: Confirmed. Check out screenshots here and here.

Robert Garcia
Background: Son of a wealthy Italian businessman, Robert was sent to train under his father's friend Takuma Sakazaki. Although he was sent there with the hopes that he would learn some discipline, Robert ended up becoming highly skilled at the Kyokugenryo style of fighting. After the years he has spent with the Sakazaki clan he has become a close friend of the family, and he has also developed strong feelings for Yuri. Although he tries time and again to find a way to be with her, Takuma and Ryo (especially Ryo) are always there to stop him.

Probability: Confirmed. Although he hasn't been shown in the screenshots currently released, his name shows up as Ryo's teammate here and here.

Cutest taunt EVAR!
Yuri Sakazaki
Background: Secretly trained by her father Takuma in the art of Kyokugenryo (so as not to anger her brother Ryo), Yuri has matured into an excellent fighter with years of experience in the King of Fighters tournament with both the Gorgeous Team and the Art of Fighting team. Perpetually annoyed by her brother's overprotectiveness, she wishes to prove to Ryo that she can bring honor to the Kyokugenryo style. She is also puzzled as to why Takuma and Ryo never let her hang around Robert too much.

Probability: Very good. Although she was a part of the Gorgeous team for years, she replaced Takuma in KoF '96 and has been a part of the team ever since. The only reason for keeping her out of this team might be to include Takuma instead. In that case, due to her popularity she may replace one of the girls in the Gorgeous Team.

Ikari Team

Psycho hose beast....
Background: Marred by a past of blood and tears, Leona replaced Heidern in KoF '96 as leader of the Ikari Team. Through the course of the many tournaments, it was revealed that she had the Orochi blood in her. After nearly killing her teammates and other fighters during the awakening of Orochi in KoF '97, she is finally able to have some control over the Riot of Blood that rises within her. Fortunately, she knows that if she should ever fail in that control, her friends Ralf and Clark will always be there to help her through it.

Probability: Confirmed. Check out the screenshot here.

Ikari Warriors rocked yo!
Ralf Jones
Background: One half of the inseparable duo he forms with Clark, Ralf is a longtime mercenary under Heidern's command. Although he was suspicious of Leona when she replaced Heidern as his partner in the KoF tournament, he has since grown to care for her. Although he has developed serious feelings for Leona in the past few years, he has gone to great lengths to hide this from her. Instead, he tries to serve as her friend and counselor.

Probability: Confirmed. Check out the screenshot here.

More Ikari Warriors love baby! ^_^
Clark Steel
Background: The other half of the Ralf and Clark duo, Clark is another mercenary under Heidern's command. Contrasting with his outspoken partner, Clark is a very quiet and somber man. He doesn't show many emotions and finds it difficult to relate to others as his whole life has revolved around fighting. A strong sense of duty keeps him working hard.

Probability: Confirmed. Check out screenshots here, here and a few more here.

Psycho Soldier Team

Greek goddess incarnate
Athena Asamiya
Background: Said to be the latest incarnation of the Greek Goddess Athena, Athena lives her daily life as a normal school girl. Although she has exceptional psychic powers, she tries to live her day-to-day life just like any other. Joining with her master Chin and her friend Kensou, they formed the Psycho Soldiers, a group dedicated to promoting justice and peace in the world. Forever helpful and kind to others, Athena works hard to ensure that all that is good for mankind will come to pass.

Probability: High. She has always lead the Psycho Soldier team, don't look for that to change anytime soon.

Lover boy supreme! o_O
Sie Kensou
Background: An orphan taken in by the old master Chin Gentsai, Kensou developed psychic powers early in his training. During his travels with Chin, he stumbled upon Athena and immediately fell in love with her. When she offered to help them in their quest to promote justice, he immediately accepted. Following the Orochi battle of KoF '97, Kensou discovered that he had lost his psychic powers. Although, he has since trained hard to fight effectively without them, it is still a mystery that drives Kensou to find out the truth of his powers.

Probability: Confirmed. Check out the screenshot here.

Psychic phenom
Background: Another orphan taken in by Chin, Bao, much like Kensou, develops enormous psychic powers upon training with Chin. Strangely enough, the development of his psychic powers has come at the same time as the disappearance of Kensou's powers. Is there a link involved? Only time will tell.

Probability: Highly probable. Although a newcomer, the storyline almost necessitates his presence, as his appearance in the series seems linked to Kensou losing his psychic abilities.

Gorgeous Team

uh. @_@
Mai Shiranui
Background: Granddaughter of ninjitsu and Kopo-ken master Hanzo Shiranui, Mai began her training at an early age. Always showing a rather large degree of talent, she didn't start seriously training until Andy Bogard appeared on the scene. Using her blossoming beauty to her advantage, Mai tried for years to catch the attention of Andy who was far too absorbed in his training to pay attention to her. Having fought in the second KoF against Wolfgang Krauser, Mai hoped to be a part of Andy's team when the tournament moved to a 3-on-3 format. Unfortunately, Andy had other plans and asked Joe to join his team. Determined to enter the tournament, she offered her services to the local bartender King, and along with her and Yuri, they formed the Gorgeous Team.

Probability: Confirmed. Check out screenshots here, here and tons more here.

Can't look. Terry will kill me...
Blue Mary
Background: A secret agent skilled in the art of Commando Sambo, Blue Mary is a beautiful, but deadly threat to any fighter she faces. Constantly on the lookout for the uprising of new evils in the world, Mary is determined to rid the world of scum.

Probability: A rather popular character and central to the overall storyline, Blue Mary has a good chance of appearing in this incarnation of the King of Fighters tournament.

No, it's NOT a guy... jeez...
Background: A Muay Thai master, King at one point desperately tried to enter many tournaments, but was always denied the opportunity because she was a woman. In time, she came to hate the fact she was a woman, and since then has always dressed elegantly as a man. One day, tending to her bar, she received an invitation to the King of Fighters tournament. After finding Mai and Yuri, she started the Gorgeous Team. Although she still tries to hide the fact she is a woman, anyone who gets to know her will see her warm caring side in due time.

Probability: A mainstay in the King of Fighters series, she is a popular and powerful fighter. Expect her to be in the game.

Kim Team

He is da man.
Kim Kaphwan
Background: Current world champion of Tae Kwon Do, Kim was always taught to use his skills to ensure justice in the world. Never relenting in his duties, he became close friends with Terry when they fought together to defeat Wolfgang Krauser in the second KoF tournament. Considered by those he faces to be a wise and honorable opponent, Kim is, at times, a tad zealous in his quest for justice. Nonetheless, he believes that the best in all people can be discovered through discipline and training.

Probability: Confirmed. Check out the screenshots here and here.

The moment you see this man do a swan dive, GET THE HELL AWAY! @_@
Chang Koehan
Background: An escaped criminal who teamed up with his newfound friend Choi, he was soon challenged by Kim to a match. After losing that match and being captured by Kim, Chang was forced to be "reformed" in his dojo, Chang wants nothing more than to escape the torture of Kim's dojo and run off to cause more havoc throughout Korea. A happy guy, his only source of grief is his imprisonment with Kim.

Probability: Confirmed. Check out the screenshot here.

A midget with claws... I LOVE YOU SNK!
Choi Bounge
Background: Having led a quiet, but boring life as a butcher, Choi's life was irreversibly changed the day that Chang walked in. Enthralled by the large man's exciting stories of life as a criminal, Choi decided to join Chang in his romp through Korea. Unfortunately, their fun was cut short when Kim captured them and forced them to train in his dojo. Choi continually tries his best to impress Kim with his skills, in the hopes that Kim will release him.

Probability: Confirmed. Check out the screenshot here.

Extra/Hidden Characters

The Legend
Kyo Kusanagi
Background: Quite simply, the greatest warrior to ever enter the King of Fighters tournament. Time and time again he has surmounted impossible odds against seemingly inhuman opponents. Descendant of the Kusanagi clan that took part in sealing away the Orochi power 1800 years ago, he is possessor of the crimson flame, and mortal enemies with Iori Yagami. That is until KoF '97 where he and Iori teamed up as their ancestors did long ago to seal the Orochi power once more. Ever since that epic and heroic battle, Kyo is nowhere to be found...

Probability: Although he left the Hero team by KoF '99, he moved on to become a special character with no affiliation to any team for the rest of the series. As such, he is basically the hero of the series, and it just wouldn't be a King of Fighters game without him. Expect him to be in there.

Why do women love men with long hair and that oh-so-special 'murderous intent' in their eyes?
Iori Yagami
Background: The counter to Kyo, Iori is the final descendant of the Yagami clan, and as such he has only one thought. To kill Kyo with his own hands and end the Kusanagi line! Cursed with the blood of the Orochi, due to the pact his ancestors made with it, Iori is prone to bouts of madness caused by the Riot of Blood. Yet, ever since the fateful battle where he joined forces with Kyo to destroy the Orochi, Iori is nowhere to be found...

Probability: Just like Kyo, it wouldn't be the same without Iori in the game in some form. Expect him to make an appearance.

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Genre Fighting
Developer Marvelous Entertainment
Players1 - 2

Worldwide Releases

na: King of Fighters EX: Neoblood
Release Aug 23, 2002
jpn: King of Fighters EX
Release Jan 01, 2002
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