The King of Fighters XIII Interview: Fighting its Way Back to the Throne

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The King of Fighters XIII Interview: Fighting its Way Back to the Throne

We’re truly living a fighting games renaissance. Ever since Street Fighter IV reignited the genre in 2009, we’ve been getting a number of interesting and diverse fight titles, ranging from the lush visuals of BlazBlue to the air combo extravaganza of Marvel Vs. Capcom 3. Along the way, we had The King of Fighters XII from SNK Playmore, touted as a “re-birth” of the traditional 3-on-3 series. And although it really gave new life to the franchise with gorgeous hi-def 2D sprite art and sleek animation, the game delivered little in terms of contents.

Two years later, SNK Playmore is hard at work to regain the crown with The King of Fighters XIII for PS3 courtesy of Atlus in the US. And based on the prospects, 13 seems to be the lucky number for KOF. The game was originally launched in Japanese arcades back in July 2010, being praised by fighting game connoisseurs for its vastly expanded roster (31 playable characters, including the return of fan favorite Mai Shiranui), revised fighting system (with faster gameplay and elements from previous titles in the series), and a multi-path Story Mode (with the conclusion of the Ash Crimson trilogy). For the home version, the team is adding even more fighters, stages and a variety of game modes – not to mention balance adjustments based on feedback from players of the arcade version.

Scheduled for November 22nd in the US, The King of Fighters XIII is aimed at longtime fans and fighting game enthusiasts in general. To lear more details about this return to form, we reached out to Producer Kei Yamamoto from SNK Playmore in Japan, who went in depth about gameplay, story, netcode, and future plans – yes, we begged for asked about KOF on PS Vita too. So read on to know what awaits you later in November and leave your favorite KOF memories in the comments!


PlayStation.Blog: Although it was great to see KOF finally entering the HD era while still sticking to its 2D roots with The King of Fighters XII, the game was criticized for its somewhat limited content. How does The King of Fighters XIII evolve from the previous game in that regard?
Kei Yamamoto, Producer for the home version of The King of Fighters XIII: KOF XII was most criticized for its lack of characters, despite it being a KOF title. So we went from 20 characters (22 in the console version) to 31 characters in the arcade version of KOF XIII, and we’re adding a few more to the console version.

We have also added different modes, such as Tutorial for beginners, Mission for experts, and Story for those who wish to learn more about what went on during KOF XIII. This game has evolved from its predecessor in every respect, so players can expect to enjoy it for a long, long time.

PSB: These hi-res 2D sprites look really beautiful in motion. How was the process to bring these graphics to life?
Yamamoto: What we did was first create 3D models of each character. We posed them, added lighting, and then outputted them as 2D frames. From there, we moved on to post-processing, where we added details such as hand-drawn (dot-pixel) illustration-like expressions and shadows. We think it’s a very unique process for creating 2D sprites.


PSB: What does the 13th installment of KOF brings to the table in terms of gameplay? What features will make KOF XIII stand out in the crowded fighting genre?
Yamamoto: There are two different meters in KOF XIII: the Power gauge and the Hyperdrive (HD) gauge. The Power gauge builds up when you hit or get hit, and when it’s completely filled, it becomes stocked. By using your stocks, you can unleash powerful attacks such as Desperation moves and guard cancels. This system is familiar to KOF fans.

For the new HD gauge, building meter uses the same process as the Power gauge, but you use it for a different purpose. The HD Gauge is used to Drive Cancel, which is canceling a Special move in the middle and following up with another, and it is also used to Super Cancel. A Super Cancel lets you execute a Desperation move in the middle of a Special move. Finally, the HD Gauge will allow you to activate Hyperdrive Mode, a mode that offers you a variety of tactical advantages that can allow you to quickly turn the tables of the match in your favor.

There are a great number of quality titles in the fighting game genre. Many different systems and features have been created thus far, and the genre keeps evolving. In the midst of all that, we can proudly say that KOF is unique for its 3-on-3 team battle system. This, combined with our other features, makes KOF the outstanding series that it is.

PSB: The game was originally launched in arcades. How does releasing a game to the arcade crowd benefit the game’s balance? Are you making additional adjustments for the home version?
Yamamoto: The arcade release definitely affected the game balance of the console version. We received a lot of good input from KOF XIII arcade players. Some of those opinions and complaints were sent directly to us, while others were found on review sites and forums. All feedback is valuable to us – while we can’t implement everyone’s requests, we still tried to consider them when we were balancing the console version.


PSB: The previous title in the series had a short interval between the arcade and home versions. The King of Fighters XIII, meanwhile, comes more than a year after it was introduced in Japanese arcades. Did you use this extra time to create more content and exclusive features for the home version?
Yamamoto: We kept fixing what was needed to be fixed and adding content that fans wanted, and before we knew it, a year passed. We apologize for keeping our fans waiting, but there’s plenty of game content in return, so please look forward to it.

PSB: Online play is a crucial feature for fighting games nowadays. What improvements did you make over KOF XII in terms of netcode, matchmaking and online features?
Yamamoto: We received many comments from the players regarding the netcode. In order to improve the online performance, our netcode received a complete overhaul: we reexamined the threshold level, optimized the content of the transmitted data, and changed the way the game handled increased net traffic, among other things.

PSB: With the return of fan favorite Mai Shiranui and the original Iori Yagami available as a DLC character, The King of Fighters XIII seems like it’s full of fan service. Are you sticking to the hardcore fan base with this title or are you also thinking of ways to make it more accessible to a wider group of players?
Yamamoto: Not only is KOF a long running series, but the story of KOF XIII carries over from a previous installment, so the main target for this game has to be the series fans. But as we mentioned previously, we’ve added various modes to the game, such as Tutorial, so that fighting game beginners could also enjoy it. We hope that the series fans, other fighting game players, and people who have never played a fighting game before will all pick up this title and play it.

PSB: With this installment, the game returns to its tradition of having dozens and dozens of characters. We know every character from The King of Fighters XII make a comeback, but what were your directives when choosing additional fighters for this new chapter?
Yamamoto: There was no story progression in the last game; since this title is the conclusion of the Ash saga, many characters related to Ash’s story will make an appearance. In order to bring back what makes KOF KOF—we call it “KOF-ism”— in KOF XIII we added characters that embodied “KOF-ism.” We also made sure that the roster wasn’t filled with just the popular characters, so players could experience the deepness of the new game system.


PSB: The King of Fighters XIII finally brings a conclusion to the Ash Saga [check details for the tournament being held and individual team storyline in the Story section of the official website], picking the story where The King of Fighters XI left off. The series was always known for its complex storyline, so what can we expect for the end of this trilogy?
Yamamoto: The main character in the third story arc, Ash, being quite different from the two earlier protagonists, had people both loving and hating him. Pay close attention to him – that’s all we need to say. Why did he try to collect the Three Sacred Treasures? Why did he part ways with Elisabeth? We want you to find out for yourselves. And if you could relate to him after learning his reason for his actions, his way of life, that would make us happy.

PSB: PS Vita is turning into the ultimate portable machine for fighting games. What do you think of the hardware? Any chances we’ll see a KOF title for PS Vita in the future?
Yamamoto: The PlayStation Vita controls well, the titles being released are appealing, and user impressions are good, so I am very interested in it, not just as a developer but as a user as well. Personally, I’d love to work on a KOF title for PS Vita if the opportunity arises.

PSB: We still miss SVC Chaos and Capcom vs SNK titles. Do you think we can see a new crossover with characters from both companies again?
Yamamoto: Crossover games not only provide excitement to fans, but to us developers as well, so I’m hoping we could do it again someday. In order to make that a reality, we’ll continue to do our best and make KOF bigger and better.

PSB: So what’s next for SNK Playmore? You know, a lot of us are still waiting for a new Fatal Fury title. Maybe you could revive the Garou 2 project?
Yamamoto: There are Garou: Mark of the Wolves fans in our company as well, and making a sequel is very appealing to us. Not only MOW, but our other titles have many fans wishing for a sequel as well. There are even those who want a Neo Geo Battle Coliseum sequel.

As to what kind of game we’ll be making next, we’re in the concept stage right now. My goal is to lead a project that would meet the expectations of as many of our fans as possible.

The King of Fighters XIII hits PS3 November 22nd – there’s even a cool 4-CD soundtrack as a pre-order bonus. To keep updated about the title, keep an eye on the official website and follow Atlus on Twitter and Facebook.

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7 Author Replies

  • I cannot wait for this game to release. It is the reason I am picking up a ps3.

  • Loved KoF since the beginning. This is a must have for me..

    • Me too! Still love and play KOF ’96 (the NeoGeo Station version) on PSN. That title made great advancements for its time and served as the cornerstone for the rest of the series. ^^

  • I’ve never tried KoF, never really been interested, but things change and if it wasn’t for the big release of games this month I’d have this pre-ordered, unfortunately I will have to pick this up sometime after release. I think a PSV release would be great. I’d look more forward to that.

  • KOF 98 is my favorite PSOne game and I’ve just waited for it to be released on the PS3 but this game looks very good. A good KOF game is one of the games I’ve wished to be released on the PS3 along with YuGiOh!

  • Do you post here often, Fabio? I don’t remember seeing you around…

    I’m looking forward to King of Fighters XIII. The previous installment was definitely a disappointment.

    • My first time on PlayStation.Blog US, actually. Glad I could contribute an article about a game I’m personally looking forward to. Hope I can come back here again in the near future. In the meantime, you can reach us on PSB BR, as usual. ^_~

  • Had it on pre-order for 6 months through Amazon, I was so happy when the 4 Dics OST Pre-order bonus was announced as well.
    @4 KOF96 NeoGeo Online rocks, great net code and most of the great characters.
    @3 Yes, a PSV port would be awesome, can’t wait for my First Edition Bundle.

    • Yeah, that pre-order bonus is a must have. Always loved the SNK soundtracks. Hope we can meet online for some KOF ’96 matches – I play Leona/Clark/Mai, btw. ^_~

  • I’d like to point out another use they added for the power gauge he didn’t mention; they added EX(improved) versions of special moves similar to street fighter 3/4, used by burning 1 bar of power gauge. They often add another tool to the character by changing the special moves in interesting ways.

    • Good call, badusername321! It adds another layer of strategy to the matches. Yamamoto-san also didn’t go in depth about the new Neo Max moves, which consumes three Power stocks and requires you to be in Hyper Drive Mode. I think they are the most visually impressive treat in this new game. ^^

  • Fabio Santana. Possibly the best name ever.

  • Nov 22, Well i already ordered all my Fighting games for this year… So i’ll get it then… LOL!

    It’s gonna be a little odd to get two fighting games on the same day thoe. This and Tekken Hybrid!

    I didn’t care one bit for KOF12… Nuff Said!

    I do still Hope SNK will get around and make a New PS3 King Of Fighters: Maximum Impact 3 game…

    Come on SNK we like more Maximum Impact and on PS3…

    Anyways Fighting Games is for me!

    By: DCS

    • You’re really more of a Tekken player, aren’t ya? =p
      I still dig the Maximum Impact titles, but more for the interesting outfit options than for its merits as a fighting game.
      It would be interesting to see a new MI title for PS3 (it was even considered at some point, if memory doesn’t fail me), but maybe it’s unlikely now that producer/designer/artist Falcoon isn’t at the company anymore. But you never know… ^^

  • Now this is a game I’ve been looking foward to, almost as much as UC3:DD.

  • I hope the online is perfect.

  • capcom vs snk 2 hd remix with online!!!!!!!!!! Do it!!!! Please!!!!!!!! Doesn’t have to be a remix, just HD with online and all the extras the console versions had. PS2 and dreamcast games had so much content in them and gave so many good fighting games, like capcom vs snk 2. Bring it back please.

  • Nope: Not really…. LOL! I play all Fighitng Games… Started with Street Fighter then Mortal Kombat then KOF! then off to Tekken and Virtua Fighter and Soul Calibur… Then to BlazBlue and others…

    I started KOF back when they did Capcom vs SNK games. That got me into SNK and King Of Fighters.

    I Just perfer the 3D games these days over 2D games. Sure i started with 2D Games back in the day. But i kinda got used to the 3D ones now and enjoy them more.

    So thats one reason i would like to See KOF: Maximum Impact 3 on PS3 now. It would ROCK!


    By: DCS

  • I’D LIKE A GAROU 2! or just any game that I could play as Rock Howard!

    I’ve never really gotten into KOF games, so I’m looking forward to seeing if this will change my mind…

  • Hey Fabio, while we’re in the fightin game mood, go ask capcom to make rival schools and project justice hd remix with online. Rival schools was my all time great for psx. New one with online please. Make sure they definitely have the first disc of rival schools version. The evo disc was cooh, but didn’t like the new tweaks they did to gameplay.

  • I played Fatal Fury when I was young, but I never really got to play around with the King of Fighters characters until Capcom Vs. SNK on the Dreamcast. Even then, I never actually picked up a KOF game.

    This game, however, has got its hooks in me. I have been watching people play the game on streams from South Town Arcade and going to fan-run sites such as Orochinagi and DreamCancel to get all the information I can before the game arrives. It looks like it’s just the right level of technicality and speed for me. November 22nd can come soon enough. Thanks for the great interview and keep up the fine work.

    P.S.- If you do get in touch with Mr. Yamamoto again, please let him know that a sequel to Neo Geo Battle Coliseum might go over better if the first one got to PSN. I would gladly take the chance to play either though.

  • Wee need something like a a chat like xbl

  • I’ve been a huge SNK fan ever since the original Fatal Fury and Samurai Shodown, and I’ve enjoyed the KOF series, especially 98, 2k2 and XI. I am definitely getting XIII, I’m not even gonna bother with UMvC3 which comes out the week before, KOF IS HERE AGAIN!

    Hopefully if this game gets good support, it’ll give SNK some motivation to get back to work on Garou:MOTW2 or a new 2D Samurai Shodown.

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