The King of Fighters XIV demo arrives on Tuesday

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Plus, new video shines a light on man-mountain Antonov

Like a burning knuckle to the face, The King of Fighters XIV caps off its successful showing at EVO 2016 with a special surprise: the game’s demo will release this Tuesday – 19th July!

With seven playable characters, the demo is just a taste of what awaits with the full 50-character roster when the game releases on 26th August 2016. The King of Fighters XIV marks the first time the series (which has been around since 1994, btw) has been rendered in 3D, and since seeing is believing, the demo will show you the latest evolution for the game.

But for long-time fans and newcomers alike, SNK has been taking extra special care to ensure the game is balanced and refined. It’s the best enhancement of the series since KOF ’98, with a complete overhaul to Combos and MAX Mode to make it more approachable for beginners, while remaining the most competitive entry in the history of the series. At its core is the 3-vs-3 team mechanic where players will have to pick their strongest three players from a roster of 50 characters, and duke it out until there’s only one team left standing.

And to get you ready for the demo on Tuesday, we’ve gone ahead and compiled some tips from our ace play testers for each of the seven characters available in the demo, to help you get a head start!

The King of Fighters XIV

Kyo Kusanagi

  • Style: Standard fighter
  • Strengths: Good attack normals, good special attacks, armor properties on some moves, easy combos
  • Weaknesses: No glaring weaknesses
  • Difficulty: 2/5
  • Notes: For veteran players and newcomers alike, Kyo is a great character to choose. In addition to his old moves returning, he has even more follow-up attacks for his special moves, giving him a lot of threatening new options for offense. Try using the two hits of his command move, 88 Shiki, to react and activate into MAX mode for high damage combos. Rely on 114 Shiki * Aragami and 115 Shiki * Dokugami as they have auto-guard properties. Standing HP into down-forward HK is a good combo starter.

Mai Shiranui

  • Style: Zoner, keep opponents at a distance
  • Strengths: Really good normal attacks, excellent EX special attacks in Max Mode
  • Weaknesses: No big combos, low damage
  • Difficulty: 2/5
  • Notes: Her fan projectile can be used to harass opponents, especially the EX version which will have a follow-up that hits on the way down. To deal with her projectiles, players will eventually have to jump. This easily sets them up to be countered by Mai’s flame-pillar super, Kagerou no Mai. EX Kachousen in Max Mode are excellent tools for pressuring opponents into making mistakes. Her standing HP is a useful tool in most circumstances.

Iori Yagami

  • Style: Standard fighter
  • Strengths: Fast attack normals, decent special attacks, easy combos
  • Weaknesses: No glaring weaknesses
  • Difficulty: 2/5
  • Notes: Similar to Kyo, players who used Iori previously will feel right at home with his new version – he is an offensive monster when played properly. Try making use of short hops combined with his jumping HP to mount an assault on enemies. One of his supers, Ura 1018 Shiki・Yashiori, has a lengthy fire special while still allowing him to move around and attack. Look for combos ending with 127 Shiki * Aoibana (and the followups). Use Max Mode in combos for extreme damage. Forward LP and its followup are useful as a combo starter. Use jumping backward LK (Ge-Shiki * Yuriori) as the main cross-up tool.

Sylvie Paula Paula (Series newcomer)

  • Style: Battery, builds meter for team
  • Strengths: Builds power gauge really well, has great EX special attacks in Max Mode
  • Weaknesses: Short range attack normals, no big combos outside of cornering opponents
  • Difficulty: 1/5
  • Notes: Her command list is simple but effective. Use Denki Kaijin, her electricity attack, to poke at enemies and annoy them. Kaiten Coil, her uppercut kick, also makes for a solid anti-air. Her level 3 super, Mechahaya Reboot, is unique in that you can continue your combo after hitting the opponent with it. Use Max Mode outside of combos for access to EX Dischar-Jing (auto-guard properties) and EX Denki Kaijin (crumples opponent for a combo).

The King of Fighters XIV

King of Dinosaurs (Series newcomer)

  • Style: Grappler, goes for big throws
  • Strengths: Good damage on special attacks, good throw mixups
  • Weaknesses: Very slow, gets pressured easily, no real combos
  • Difficulty: 3/5
  • Notes: Like most grapple characters, he is slow at moving around but becomes much more effective at close-range. Having strong patience will pay off the most when using King of Dinosaurs. The HP and EX versions of his Zetsumetsu Hurricane has armor frames, allowing him to absorb attacks up-close and plow through with a powerful command grab. Apply pressure with Ankylo Hammer and use Break to go for Zetsumetsu for the mixup. If backward LP (Yucatan Punch) is landed, can go into Ankylo Hammer or Climax move for serious damage.

The King of Fighters XIV

Shun’ei (Series newcomer)

  • Style: A mix of Zoner and Combo-heavy
  • Strengths: High damage, excellent EX special attacks in Max Mode, great mobility
  • Weaknesses: Short range attack normals, most special attacks are unsafe
  • Difficulty: 4/5
  • Notes: This character has powerful EX special moves and is most effective with MAX mode activated. Because of his dependency on meter, however, it may be a good idea to place him on the back of the team so that other characters can build meter for him to use. His air dash grants him unique mobility options never before seen in a KOF game. Primarily uses Max Mode outside of combos for access to big damaging tools. Scarlet Phantom and EX Scarlet Phantom are primary starters and approach tools. Use Thruster Vision to maneuver and throw the opponent off.

Nelson (Series newcomer)

  • Style: Command normal chains, chain-heavy
  • Strengths: lots of mixup potential, can pressure the opponent very well
  • Weaknesses: No use for Max Mode, no real combos (uses a chain system)
  • Difficulty: 5/5
  • Notes: His chain of attacks have a lot of branching pathways, so he’s great for players who like to mix up their offense with unpredictable patterns. When playing as Nelson, try to stick to your opponents and don’t give them a chance to breathe. Nelson should not prioritize meter and is best played as a ‘battery character’ on point position. He can open up the opponent with a lot of high/low mixups. Very difficult character for beginning players to use.

Oh, and because every good fighting game needs a villain, here’s a look at the man-mountain behind the King of Fighters tournament, Antonov. With his glorious mutton chops, imposing physical presence, and decidedly awesome champion belt, Antonov is the boss who awaits you as you and your team ascend the ranks of the King of Fighters tournament.

Sure, he’s an eccentric billionaire who bought the rights to the King of Fighters brand in order to host a new tournament, and granted, he’s already proclaimed himself the One True King of Fighters, so I guess your only option at this point is to saddle up with the team of your choice and fight like hell to unseat this unhinged giant.

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