The King of Fighters universe (ザ・キング・オブ・ファイターズ) is a canonical crossover fighting game series created by SNK, which brought the characters from other SNK multiverse, such as mostly from Art of Fighting and Fatal Fury series, but set in a different timeline. First released for the Neo Geo MVS Arcade and AES console in 1994, the main timeline KOF games were originally released based on the years of their releases up until 2003, where they abandoned the annual release format and year titling in favour of a Roman numeral system. It stars a multitude of characters whose sights are set on their life goals within SNK multiverse, South Town (the main settings in The King of Fighters and Art of Fighting/Fatal Fury timelines) – as is the case with its main recurring character and sole playable downloadable fighter debuted in Fatal Fury, Terry Bogard.
By and large, the King of Fighters series is a crossover between various SNK franchises, such as Fatal Fury, Art of Fighting, Psycho Soldier and Ikari Warriors. Other than the crossover aspect, for most of the series, the main protagonist is a young high school student and martial artist Kyo Kusanagi, a master of a martial art based around his family's ancestral flame powers. Occasionally, other characters take centre stage such as K', a man who is implanted with Kyo’s DNA, or Shun'Ei, a young master of illusionary powers.
The series comprises of a number of "sagas" taking place over a certain number of games. While considered part of the Orochi saga, the first game, 94, is sometimes considered a standalone game revolving around the eponymous tournament ran by the infamous black marketeer Rugal Bernstein. KOFs 95 to 97 focus around Orochi, an ancient god who seeks humanity's destruction. 99 to 2001 focus on the NESTS cartel, who seek to clone Kyo Kusanagi as part of a world domination plan as well as dealing with various parties seeking NESTS' destruction, and 2003 to XIII (XII is skipped, due to being non-canon) focus on the exploits of the mysterious and devious Ash Crimson. The current arc as of XIV centers around the SNK multiverse crisis relating to Shun'ei’s power. This crisis begins with the release of a monster named Verse, whose release was caused by Ash back in XIII.
The Orochi and NESTS sagas also have two non-canon "dream match" games that aim to add every character who featured in that saga's games. '98 is the Orochi saga's dream match, as is 2002 for NESTs.
The alternate continuity series, Maximum Impact is a hybrid between the main timeline (such as Terry and Ryo being at the same age) and the currently last Fatal Fury mainline game Garou: Mark of the Wolves (where Geese died at the end of Real Bout: Fatal Fury, and Rock is old enough to enter the tournament, though Rock became older in main KOF timeline as of XIV).
The series is also infamous for carrying on SNK's tradition of insidiously difficult bosses, with the most infamous being Rugal of 94 and 98 fame and Leopold Goenitz of 96.
List of games in The King of Fighters franchise
- The King of Fighters '94 (1993, Neo Geo)
- The King of Fighters '94: Rebout (2004, Playstation 2) - A semi-remake of '94 that features 3D background, remastered sprites and the addition of both the Team Edit function and Kyo's father Saisyu from '95.
- The King of Fighters '95 (1995, Neo Geo, Playstation, Sega Saturn, Game Boy)
- The King of Fighters '96 (1996, Neo Geo, Playstation)
- The King of Fighters: Heat of Battle (1996, Game Boy) - A port of '96 for the Game Boy, that was named Nettou King of Fighters '96 in Japan.
- The King of Fighters '97 (1997, Neo Geo, Playstation)
- The King of Fighters '97: Global Match (2018, Playstation 4/Vita, Xbox One, PC)
- The King of Fighters '98 (1998, Neo Geo, Playstation)
- The King of Fighters '98: Ultimate Match (2008, Arcade, Playstation 2, Xbox 360, PC) - An update of '98 that restores several more characters from previous games including the '96 boss team led by Geese as well as Goenitz and Orochi.
- The King of Fighters: Dream Match 1999 (1999, Dreamcast) - Despite being named "1999", it is merely a mildly enhanced port of 98 for the Dreamcast.
- The King of Fighters '99 (1999, Neo Geo, Playstation)
- The King of Fighters '99: Evolution (1999, Dreamcast)
- The King of Fighters 2000 (2000, Neo Geo, Sega Dreamcast, Playstation 2)
- The King of Fighters 2001 (2001, Neo Geo, Playstation 2)
- The King of Fighters 2002 (2002, Neo Geo, Playstation 2, Xbox)
- The King of Fighters 2002: Unlimited Match (2009, Playstation 2, Xbox 360, PC; 2021, PlayStation 4) - A large scale remake of 2002 that adds everyone from the NESTS saga games, as well as Geese and Goenitz from the original's Playstation 2 ports. The exception is K9999, who was replaced with a new character called "Nameless."
- The King of Fighters 2003 (2003, Neo Geo, Playstation 2)
- The King of Fighters XI (2005, Arcade, Playstation 2)
- The King of Fighters XII (2009, Arcade, Playstation 3, Xbox 360)
- The King of Fighters XIII (2010, Arcade, Playstation 3, Xbox 360, PC)
- The King of Fighters XIV (2016, Arcade, Playstation 4, PC)
- The King of Fighters XIV: Ultimate Edition (2021, PlayStation 4) - A "best of" version that compiles all of the game's DLC along with it.
- The King of Fighters XV (2021)
- The King of Fighters EX: Neo Blood (2002, Game Boy Advance)
- The King of Fighters EX2: Howling Blood (2003, Game Boy Advance)
- The King of Fighters: Neowave (2004, Arcade, Playstation 2, Xbox)
- The King of Fighters: Maximum Impact (2005, Playstation 2)
- The King of Fighters: Maximum Impact 2 (2006, Playstation 2 (released in the US as King of Fighters 2006))
- The King of Fighters: Maximum Impact: Regulation "A" (2008, Playstation 2) - A semi update of Maximum Impact 2 that adds Ash Crimson, Blue Mary, newcomer Xiao Lon and Fighter's History protagonist Makoto Mizoguchi to the roster.
- The King of Fighters: All-Stars (2018, iOS, Android)
- SNK Heroines: Tag Team, Frenzy (2018, Arcade, Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch, PC) - A spiritual successor to SNK Gals Fighters. Takes place between KOF XIV and XV
- KOF: Chronicles (2019, iOS, Android)
All of the content for this franchise was released on November 6th, 2019 as part of the version 6.0.0 update. It is confirmed that all characters based on the main KOF timeline.
All characters are cameos in the King of Fighters stage.
- Kyo Kusanagi: The heir of the traditional Kusanagi Clan, Kyo is the main protagonist of the King of Fighters series. He holds one of the Three Sacred Treasures, the Kusanagi Sword, capable of sealing off the mystical Orochi power. In his Smash Bros cameo, he wears his famous school uniform from the Orochi saga.
- Iori Yagami: Kyo Kusanagi's main rival, first making his debut in The King of Fighters '95. Iori is the heir of the Yagami Clan, who rivals the Kusanagi Clan to a point that Iori is obsessed with ending Kyo's life, and also holds one of the Three Sacred Treasures, the Magatama of Yasakani. Iori controls purple flames who stun opponents, thanks to his clan's links to the Orochi blood, which also make him vulnerable to the so-called Riot of the Blood, which makes him uncontrollably wild.
- Goro Daimon: A judo champion and recurring companion of Kyo Kusanagi as a member of the Japan Team, also known as the Hero Team. His first appearance was in The King of Fighters '94, alongside Kyo.
- Chang Koehan and Choi Bounge: Two Korean criminals who were forced to join Kim Kaphwan's "rehabilitation program". Chang is a large felon who wields an iron ball and has a history of prison breaks, while Choi is a short slasher who was captured by Kim when he tried to attack him.
- "Ne! - KOF '94"
- "Stormy Saxophone 2 - KOF '96" (Original Remix)
- "176th Street - KOF '99"
- "Terry115 - KOF 2000"
- "Cutting Edge - KOF 2002 UM"
- "DESERT REQUIEM ~Operation02UM~ - KOF 2002 UM"
- "ESAKA!! - KOF 2002 UM"
- "KD-0079+ - KOF 2002 UM"
- "Undercover - KOF 2002 UM"
- "W.W.III - KOF 2002 UM"
- "Street Dancer - KOF XI"
- "KDD-0063 - KOF XIII"
- "The Second Joker - KOF XIII"
- "Esaka Continues... - KOF XIII"
- "Tame a Bad Boy - KOF XIII"
- "Wild Street - KOF XIII"
- "Yappari ESAKA - KOF XIII"
- "New Order - KOF XIV"
- "Soy Sauce for Geese - KOF XIV"
- King of Fighters Stadium: a stadium based on “The King of Fighters” tournament. The tournament originated from Fatal Fury, but the stage resembles its appearance in The King of Fighters series. It appears closest to the Stadium Stage found in The King of Fighters XII. Notably, the “KOF” logo in center stage uses the Smash logo instead of an “O”. The stage was released on November 6th, 2019 as part of Challenger Pack 4.
Mii Fighters Costumes
- Iori Yagami Outfit (Brawler)
- The King of Fighters and Art of Fighting/Fatal Fury are the three in one third party universe in Super Smash Bros. series, due to both being fighting games of SNK multiverse. Thus, SNK fighting series multiverse itself is the second known fighting game series in Smash, the first being Street Fighter.
- It is also one of the two known SNK's international hit series alongside Metal Slug.
- Terry's release trailer features a Smash invite letter signed off by [S] (for Sakurai) in a parody of the invitation in the intro to KOF '94, signed off by [R] (for Rugal Bernstein.)