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July 9, 2011 / Jett

King of Fighters i-002 Review (iPhone)


Out of nowhere, SNK released King of Fighters i-002 for the iPhone. Until it hit the iTunes store, SNK hadn’t even acknowledged this game’s existence. Because of the flash announcement and release, it’s really hard right now to find any sort of impressions on it. As curious as I was to try it out, I was initially weary on picking this up immediately, as $7.99 seemed like a lot to gamble on for an iPhone game, especially when I just bought Street Fighter IV: Volt for $0.99.

However, out of my own curiosity and my desire to inform anyone interested in picking this game up, I decided to pony up the funds and give it a go. Does King of Fighters have what it takes to topple the Street Fighter IV series of iPhone games as the king of fighting games on the platform?

Before I dive into this review, I should state upfront that although I’m a fighting game enthusiast, I’m far from an expert on the King of Fighters series. My knowledge is primarily based on the bits I’ve seen and read about here and there as I’ve learned about the scene as a whole, as well as my limited play time with King of Fighters XII, which I bought a few weeks ago for dirt cheap at a Blockbuster closing sale. While this does not make my opinions invalid, I will not be able to provide you with any deep comparisons to how this game compares to its arcade and console counterparts. I’ll try my best to be as insightful as I can without overstepping the bounds of my knowledge.

The most unique element to the King of Fighters series of games has been its 3-on-3 play, where the winning character stays on to fight the next opponent while carrying over their health from the last match. The iPhone game keeps this mode intact, although you can also play traditional 1-on-1 matches. You can choose from the current roster of 14 characters to fill out your team. SNK has already promised to up that number by 20 with a free update later this year. I remember hearing a lot of complaints from King of Fighters fans about how a 20-character roster was too small for 3-on-3 (especially when King of Fighters XI had 40 characters), but I think 14 or 20 characters should be serviceable on the go. I’m not overly familiar with the King of Fighters roster, but it features the three characters I recognize, who are Mai, Terry and Joe.

While I can’t say for sure what previous King of Fighters game this iPhone version takes its main influences from, I can say that this feels a lot like a genuine King of Fighters experience. Just to make sure, I had one of my coworkers (who is a King of Fighters fanatic) play the game, and he told me that it felt authentic to him. Though I’m still trying to wrap my head around how the gameplay systems work, it plays like a very solid fighter with depth. If you’re a causal fighting game fan, King of Fighters i-oo2 is going to pose a steeper learning curve than Street Fighter IV on the iPhone. However, hardcore fighting game fans and the KoF faithful will eat this up. I’m looking forward to playing this game more as a means of easing myself into the King of Fighters series.

As with Street Fighter IV on the iPhone, King of Fighters features a nearly-identical simplified control scheme. You get a punch button, kick button, special move button and evade button, and have the ability to trigger super moves by touching the super gauges at the top of the screen. This setup shares equal advantages and disadvantages with Street Fighter IV. The virtual stick and the buttons respond really well. I also love having the simplified special move system in place so that I’m worrying less about proper execution. The downside is, you won’t have access to your character’s full set of normal moves, and should you be stubborn enough to want to input your special moves the old-fashioned way, you may find the touch controls frustrating. I say for these games, just use the simple mode and leave the heavy execution for a real controller or arcade fightstick.

King of Fighters i-002 may have a really bad name, but the game itself is really good. The game looks great, plays as a King of Fighters game should and almost stands shoulder to shoulder with Street Fighter IV: Volt as the best fighting game on iOS. The only thing that keeps it from taking out the champ is the steeper starting price (Street Fighter IV: Volt is $1 cheaper) and its lack of online multiplayer, which Street Fighter IV: Volt does have. Granted, local Bluetooth multiplayer for King of Fighters works great based on my testing and my time with Street Fighter IV: Volt’s online multiplayer has been a pain thanks to an immature community. You may also just prefer the feel of playing King of Fighters over Street Fighter IV, which would override any shortcomings in price or features. In any case, King of FIghters i-002 is a quality fighting game on the iPhone and iPod Touch, and is definitely worth a look if you’re looking for a fighting game other than Street Fighter IV to play.

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7 Comments

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  1. Josh / Jul 9 2011 11:51 AM

    I saw a friend of mine playing this before and it looked interesting but I thought that the buttons were too big for the tiny screen of the iphone. His fingers were completely engulfing the hole screen, it was very uncomfortable to watch.

    • Jett / Jul 9 2011 5:19 PM

      I did a side-by-side comparison of the Street Fighter IV and King of Fighters on iPhone, and if anything, the Street Fighter buttons are actually a touch bigger than the King of Fighters buttons. The only difference is that King of Fighters does have one extra “HD” button, but I don’t really use that one much. If the Street Fighter setup on iPhone works for you, so will King of Fighters.

      • Josh / Jul 9 2011 11:10 PM

        Is the joystick placed appropriately? Because it looks quite awkward to me, if I can’t see my competitor because of my fingers on the screen then I can imagine a rage quit or 2. In the 3rd picture in the post I can see that the screen is practically cut in half because of the controls alone and the health bars need some space as well.

      • Jett / Jul 10 2011 1:33 AM

        You can move the buttons anywhere you want on the screen. It’s no more obtrusive than the Street Fighter controls. If you don’t like those, then you won’t like this, either.

  2. Josh / Jul 10 2011 2:58 AM

    I will cope, I’ll give it a spin for the sake of it, it’s not a life decision after all lol.

    • Jett / Jul 10 2011 9:08 AM

      I will say it is a bit pricey for an iPhone game. It also hurts that it’s $1 more than the regular price of Volt, especially when it was on sale for as low as $1 not too long ago. Unless you’re super into fighting games or King of Fighters specifically, then you may just want to wait until it’s on sale.

      • Josh / Jul 10 2011 11:01 PM

        I need something on my iphone to play that is different from Gun Bros, Cut Rope, that game where you launch rag dolls into a target and Dead Space, this will do nicely 😀

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