A few weeks ago SNK announced the latest instalment in their flagship King Of Fighters franchise with The King Of Fighters XIII, while also revealing that more information would be forthcoming at a private event due to be held later on this month. Today at that very event in Akihabara, SNK spoke publicly for the first time about what to expect from the game, detailing the inclusion of more characters and new gameplay systems.
Those of you hoping for a new trailer or any gameplay videos will be sorely dissapointed, as SNKP only released a few screenshots demonstrating how the new gameplay systems would work, whilst also showing three of the game's stages. We have some of these screens right here at IQGamer, all of which are scattered about down below somewhere.
Game director Masaaki Kukino, confirmed that KOFXIII would feature a storyline continuing on from KOFXI, bringing together a conclusion to the ‘Ash saga’ started in KOF2003 on the Neo Geo platform. Unfortunitely no other details were revealed on the matter, though at least there IS going to be a story this time around, seeing as the so-called rebirth of the franchise in XII lacked not only any kind of narrative, but also an end boss character too.
In terms of characters, Mai Shiranui, Yuri Sakazaki and King will be returning to the series, and some brand new faces would also be appearing, though again, no more details were forthcoming. It isn’t a gamble for us to speculate, with confidence I might add; that an incredibly cheap end-boss character will be making an appearance in addition to those three familiar faces and un-named new arrivals.
New stages were also announced at today’s event. Kukino mentioned that a Sumo festival style arena, a bus-filled British street, and an Indian temple themed area would at least feature in the game. Screenshots on this page show all three revealed stages along with the Capcom Vs SNK 2 inspired health bars and on-screen counters. The British street stage, with no less than three red London busses in the background, seems to be a direct homage to the England stage from King Of Fighters 94.
More importantly, Kukino revealed some of the interesting new gameplay mechanics that would be going into KOFXIII. The first of which was the addition of EX moves; these moves actually increase the power and damage ratio of your Super moves by using a segment of the Power Gauge to enhance their abilities. Think of it as like a super charged version of the EX moves seen in Street Fighter III, and more recently SFIV, but in a sense of Super combos rather than standard Specials.
Moving on to Supers, the new Drive Cancels allow you the ability to cancel out of one Super move and immediately go straight into another, delivering the possibility of opening up far longer and more damaging combos following on from a Normal attack, into Special, into Super, before cancelling, and then unleashing another Super all in the same combination of attacks. The last new feature is the use of something called Hyper Drive Mode. This is powered by the aptly named Hyper Gauge, and allows you, when the gauge is maxxed-out, to perform unlimited Drive Cancels, assuming of course that your super bar has enough segments left to perform those moves.
The King Of Fighters XIII is scheduled to appear in Japanese arcades sometime this summer, with the first of many location tests, used to gauge user feedback and correct any issues with the fighting engine, being held this weekend at the Hey arcade in Akihabara. We should be able to learn more from the event and will endeavour to bring you another report early next week if anything comes our way. Hopefully we wil have some more screenshots of the game, whilst at least seeing how much progress has been made with the game engine and character movesets.