Let’s be honest here. It’s been several months since the last 100 Days of MEGASHOCK! I started this blog in January of last year. And I have only managed to cover 12 games. At this rate, I’ll need more than a decade to go through the complete Neo Geo Library. And if you know me, you know that I don’t even have a shred of the persistence required to keep this blog running for that long. So I thought why not jump ahead and look at what SNK Playmore has been doing in recent years to get to the end of this long 20+ year spanning tale. What’s a Playmore? Oh right. Don’t worry; I’ll get you up to speed on things.
So a few years into the Neo Geo’s life, SNK makes Fatal Fury, Art Of Fighting and a host of other fighters. And they became very popular. So that begat The King Of Fighters 94 (or KOF 94), a sort of crossover fighting game that brought characters from Art Of Fighting, Fatal Fury, and other SNK characters from non-fighting games. KOF 94 became even more popular, in turn becoming its own yearly franchise. In the midst of that, Nazca made Metal Slug and it was popular too. And then Nazca was co-opted into SNK. So for a time, SNK was the Fighting Games + Metal Slug company, and then reducing to just making KOF + Metal Slug, and then to just making KOFs every now and then. Oh and during that, SNK made the Neo Geo Pocket (and shortly after, the Neo Geo Pocket Color), which was a really cool handheld. And also they closed down and then resurrected as Playmore, then SNK Playmore. Ok cool. So lets look at SNK Playmore’s latest game, which is The King Of Fighters XIII…Oh wait, sorry, my mistake. Did I write XIII? What I meant is The King Of Fighters III, the newest KOF pachinko game.
The King Of Fighters III is the third pachinko KOF title, naturally. The first pachinko KOF covered the Orochi saga (from KOF 95 to KOF 97), and the second pachinko KOF covered the NESTS saga (KOF 99 to KOF 2001). So obviously, the third pachinko KOF covers the Ash saga, which is told specifically KOF 2003, KOF XI, and KOF XIII. The entries in-between don’t count (ie: no KOF XII, NeoWave, Maximum Impacts, the GBA only EX NeoBlood/EX2 Howling Blood, and sadly none of the Days Of Memories dating sim games. All strictly non-canon). The Ash saga basically revolves around Ash Crimson being an anti-hero who steals the powers of the Orochi-saga trio of heroes, first Chizuru in KOF 2003, and then Iori in KOF XI, for some diabolical reason, all the while fighting remnants of the Orochi clan who want to resurrect Orochi YET AGAIN. But you wouldn’t know that even after playing hours and hours of these KOFs. Ask any random person who plays KOF religiously and they probably would not know what the first thing about the plot of these games. Fighting games are hardly the optimal medium for delivering a deep & complex story like this. So SNK Playmore opted to retell this story in the more suitable medium of Pachinko-Slot machines.
In The King Of Fighters III, you play as Kyo Kusanagi as he walks around in…somewhere. Sometimes Athena Asamiya hangs around with him (wonder what Yuki or Kensou would think of that? Or dear god, I bet Iori would flip his sh*t out of jealousy). While Kyo is running around, he fights generic non-specific dudes. Although sometimes he seems to be fighting no one at all, just doing stuff in empty hallways. Sometimes Iori appears to challenge Kyo because of course Iori appears to challenge Kyo. And then they fight. And then Kyo runs some more. And sometimes random artwork of K’, Ryo Sakazaki, Ash Crimson, and Terry Bogard appear. Mai also appears occasionally. And so does Saiki, Ash’s time-traveling granddad. And then that’s the whole game. Fascinating, no?
But what’s a King Of Fighters without a deep, intricate, and dynamic battle system. In The King Of Fighters III, SNK Playmore forgoes the complex 4 button and directional stick for a 3-button and one slot pull lever (I think. I honestly don’t know. I’m just scrambling from the video). You pull the lever to make all 3 slots roll. Pressing each of the buttons would stop the slot above it from rolling. And when all 3 slots stop, exciting things happen like lights flashing, loud-music blaring, and Kyo screaming stuff. If you keep on playing and align your slots to match horizontally or diagonally, you can do even more exciting stuff like activate Hyper Mode or do a NeoMAX super desperation move without the need for complex controller inputs or strict timing. All the payoff, with none the work.
All in all, it’s a pretty fun and highly enjoyable game. It replaces the meticulous & honestly uninviting high-risk, high-reward combat style of KOF with the obviously better no-risk, all reward all-the-time system. You win whether you want to or not. And you can make money by both playing it or by operating it at your own gambling establishment (as long as you have all the legal issues on owning a gambling establishment dealt with). It’s a game that pays for itself on both sides of the consumer-producer divide, which no other video game on any console has ever done. The King Of Fighters III represents the beginning of a new, exciting era for SNK Playmore and the Japanese video game industry, nay the international video game industry. And SNK Playmore has already announced their next pachinko game, which will be based on the classic Samurai Shodown series, and looks to change the dated 2D sprites of the originals into advanced, high-tech looking 3D models. We live in an exciting times for video games. The Future Is Now, and The Future Is Bright.
NOTE: 100 Days Of Megashock will return to it’s regular schedule soon. How soon? Not very very soon. But somewhat soonish in a non-compromising, halfheartedly promising manner. Only the best from me.