Review by Penguin

Reviewed: 02/09/02 | Updated: 05/02/03

Not even the lovable Igniz can save this game! (The rerereview)

Sooo...SNK's gone (in name, but not in spirit, LONG LIVE SNK!!!), and Eolith got the rights to produce a game called ''The King of Fighters.''
So what we have here, is the latest KOF to date. KOF 2001, co-developed by SNK and Eolith (you can throw in BreezaSoft if you like).
After a *lot* of extensive playing, I can finally judge the game more ehh...fairly. And after *more* intensive playing, I have found out that...that...it's the worst KOF I've encountered by far. The horror!
I've decided to rewrite a good chunk of the review since my stance has changed so much.
Now let's get it on.

Graphics: 6
Unlike my last edit, I'm a bit leaning towards bashing the graphics. The stages are alright, some are fine (Italy is probably the best), but some are quite horrible. The final boss stage is totally messed up, and the Japan stage just doesn't feel very right. Most of all, it doesn't feel very KOF for some reason.
Some sprites have been redrawn, notably Iori and Vanessa. But it's not their whole sprite, it's only their standing and crouching animations! So you got this nice-looking Iori standing idle, then you walk forward, and it switches back to the old sprite. I do give credit for their effort though, but is redrawing Vanessa really necessary (she's a new character in KOF 2K!)?
As for the in-game art, it's generally below average. Some pictures are hideous. Some winquote arts like Andy's, and Goro's are bleh. Thankfully, the little icons in character select screens don't seem to get affected much. Character portraits next to lifebars are a little better than other in-game arts (like Whip's).
Considering that it's MVS stuff, I believe that they did do their best, but it just doesn't look good at all.

Sound: 7
It's a disappointment. The KOF 2K1 soundtrack is *nowhere* near to the standards of previous KOFs. However, it's not that bad, it's below average. The tunes are quite repetitive and weird, but it grows on to you. Only memorable ones are Original Zero and Ignis. Finally some good boss music.
Note that the original composers for the KOF series were replaced.
A lot of changes in the voices, some are good (like Iori's sadist laugh), but most of them are okay. At least it doesn't sound flat like old KOFs do. K's ''Ore ni sawan ja ne!'' winpose speech has pretty good emotion too.

Gameplay: 6
This is where the game kinda shines. But it has major flaws in it as well...
A weakened striker system, welcomed by the hardcore KOF players but perhaps not the KOF2K newcomers, is added. While I still don't exactly understand how it works, it's like a weakened version of the KOF2K system. If you execute a striker combo, you'll notice that the damage is *severely* lowered. But if you have, say 1 fighter and 3 strikers and you call all 3 at the same time, they do craploads of damage. Nobody still can figure out how it works apprently.
As for 2K1, the traditional 3 fighters format is gone. Now you can have your own fighter/striker combination out of 4 guys. You can have 1 fighter and 3 strikers, or 4 fighters only. But you can't have 4 strikers. A bit like CvS2's ratio system.
Gone are the Counter/Armor modes, now SDMs take two stocks (if you have 4 fighters you only get one stock max). You can also execute super cancels. That is, canceling a certain special move into a super move. A little unoriginal, but supercanceling seem to be the norm in fighters these days.
Also added is the wire attacks. If you've played Last Blade 2, well it's a bit similar to that. But the opponent bounces higher, and it's basically a free juggle. There are counter wires and 'normal' wire attacks, and they are only used by one or two special moves or DMs.
A lot of charge move-based characters changed into command characters (Robert's complete redesign comes to mind). This helps in comboability. Also, quite a few characters have commands that resembled to their very old days.
Now on to bosses. It turned out that Zero in KOF 2K isn't the real Zero. And the true one turns out to be 'nicer' and better looking too. But his strikers are not. He has 3 strikers, and only one, Ron, is the one you should be afraid of. You'll know why. Once you got hold of the AI pattern, Original Zero is pretty easy.
And when you think that it's all over, check out the blonde! He's the CEO of NESTS, the ringleader, the head, whatever. He's cool looking, extremely overpowered, and lovable! Igniz is his name (though some call him Ignis). He has this crazy ranbu SDM which delivers more ouch (graphics-wise and lifebar-wise) than Krizalid's Desperate Moment SDM.
Did I mention that these two bosses have infinite strikers and power stock?
Ooo but it doesn't end there.
You don't find the 'counter' or 'guard break' messages in the game. That means, if you see the screen flash for a half-second, it's a counter.
One of my major qualms is the character balance. I bet Eolith didn't do much balancing and bug checks. Goro takes little damage while dealing craploads of damage; Heidren, now a command character, favors turtling; Kim's comboability has gone up (as if it isn't high enough); Foxy is pretty much top tier; Kyo is bleh; and Benimaru's f+B now connects (which makes him another high tier character); Yuri is very strong; K9999 doesn't need much skill to be effective, etc etc.
Infinites are everywhere, as mentioned above, there's not much bug checking. Angel infinites galore, super easy ones like Bao's and Kim's are there, and a host of other infinites involving strikers as well. This further unbalances the game system.
Another qualm is the complexity of the game system. The supercancels, how to call strikers (you have three different inputs to call strikers), wire attacks, ratio system, and all that just makes this game newbie unfriendly.
After all this bashing, the old score of 8 now takes two steps back.

Characters: 7
Alright. Let's start with the new ones here. Angel is this girl with lots of weight in the front. Even though I haven't bothered using her, people say that she needs practice to be good, and from my own experience, her chain circle attacks don't combo well. She's also the attention of infinites as well. In addition, she looks weirdly, well-animated compared to other KOF characters.
K9999 is a Tetsuo ripoff (his voice actor is the same as Tetsuo's). I don't like him at all, scrubs can pick him up and abuse his f+A along with jump C. I've met my fair share of K9999s already, I don't need any more cheapo K9999 players. He's like the Iori equivalent of K' (Iori is the rival of Kyo). He actually looks like a KOF character though, unlike other newly introduced characters.
May Lee replaced Jhun. Not that I love Jhun to death, but it's rumored that Jhun wasn't very popular in Japan and Korea even though he's very deep in terms of gameplay. So, they decided to put May Lee in instead. If you haven't played the game, May Lee is this weird girl with a black shirt with a frog's head logo on it, and white pants that goes along with her shades on her forehead. She can switch between Hero and normal mode, where in hero mode she looks totally different and has a cape out of nowhere. And this is a quite lame character design. Gameplay wise, she's pretty broken, she has lots of juggles, and an infinite to boost. But she has variations of moves, kinda like Kyo's Aragami chain. She also can't block in Hero mode even though she has a parry move like Ryo's. Personally, I don't like her much. But she's quite popular though.
Foxy has a sprite in KOF2K, as a striker. Now she joins the fray in 2K1. She has some interesting moves, most notable her suicide SDM which can kill off a regular character (Igniz can't be killed by this, mind you). She looks very dark, I think even darker than her 2K sprite. Gameplay wise, she's around the top. She has a lot of pokes which make her effective, and some unblockable bug too.
Heidren comes back from KOF98 to haunt us with his Storm Bringer once again. This time around, he's not a chargie anymore, he has actual commands (like qcf+P for fireball). Which actually makes him easier to turtle since you don't need to walk back to charge for a certain move. His hcb+P move (the one which sucks your blood, not the counter) can suck a *lot* of life. Basically, he's just...unfair.
Xiangfei is back too, she's basically her 99 incarnation without much changes. Nothing new here. She's more balanced than others and is pretty interesting to play with.
Goro is back too! He has all his moves, but his recovery time for his hcb,f+P is slower, which means his bug (which I can't do) in 98 is eliminated. However, it doesn't mean that he's toned down, he takes less damage from others and deals craploads of damage to them. But Goro's baby son owns!
Other notables are Robert who got his movelist revamped to make him a command character, Lin who basically has a revamped movelist, and Bao for being the same annoying kid with his new df+D infinite. Oh yeah, Kyo lost all his autoguard.
Still, this makes a pretty good batch of characters.

Story: 6
What pulled me into KOF, in part is its storyline. But for 2K1, I don't understand what's going on. But I'm sure of one thing, it's the end of the NESTS saga, or nearing its end.
I have some qualms with how they introduced each team's story. Is this the end of the lovable team story introductions? The Korean team has one of the stupidest intro stories with Jhun getting hit by a car, and Chang and Choi getting their bodies back by banging their heads against each other. The FF team's story is pretty much same old same old. However the AOF team's intro story proved to be more interesting than others.
And the endings were quite average as well, I don't seem to find much advancements in the storyline. The Psycho Soldiers team has made KOF fans hype about this ''Dragon Saga'' thingy though.
In addition, I'm not really sure about how Igniz tries to destroy Earth or rule the world or something like that. He tried to slam his satellite (which he's in along with your team) to Earth before the fight, then after he lost he found out that it's the end of the lovable Igniz and he decided to do the same thing. Ummm...is there supposed to be a difference? I don't think slamming a satellite against Earth will make you the ruler of the world either.

Overall: 6.4
Fractions aren't allowed, so it's a 6.
It used to be cool - then you play the game more, and then all these flaws just jump to you. If there's no other KOF, play this one. Play 2K2 if you have the chance, or 2K...or just other KOFs out there. This is probably the worst KOF to date. But there is one saving grace - at least Igniz is lovable!

Rating:   3.0 - Fair

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