The King of Fighters XIII

You're Doing It Wrong

If I had a nickel for every time I heard that phrase, I could buy every copy of The King of Fighters XIII in existence.
Author: Scott Rodgers
Published: January 6, 2012
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You’ll never confuse me with someone who is great at fighting games. The genre is probably my personal favorite and though I’ll never get invited to EVO and it’s highly unlikely that I’ll have a winning record online. I would say that fighting games are some of the most rewarding gameplay experiences out there. Being able to finally hit a special attack consistently after it has evaded you for hours never gets tiresome. That’s why I was drawn to, and begged to, review The King of Fighters XIII. The series is synonymous with having a steep learning curve and I wanted the opportunity to try it out for myself on a next gen system (thankfully I skipped The King of Fighters XII). My first exposure to the series actually came on the Dreamcast at a friend’s house and the first game featuring the characters that I personally owned was Capcom vs SNK 2. It may seem blasphemous to long standing fans but I really wanted to give the series a shot and by the time I got around to getting a fight stick I figured I’d wait for KoF XIII.


As soon as I booted up the game and started checking out the tutorial I knew I was going to be in a world of hurt. Even now I can’t pull off some of the moves to clear it. That’s not to say that the moves and inputs are impossible, it’s just a dramatic shift from the fighting series I had been playing recently. Even the trials were a bit crazy at first but it was like a dam, in that it just took a lot of trial and error to get the first one and then more and more started falling before me. I can’t even begin to tell you how accomplished I felt for every inch that I moved forward. Sure, there were times that I got so frustrated with the game that I just had to get away from it for a few days but that probably says more about my lack of ability than the game itself.

One of the biggest complaints that I read about The King of Fighters XII was the game’s lack of modes. If you just so happen to be in that boat then I’m happy to report that you will find plenty to do in KoF XIII. There is an expansive story that will require multiple playthroughs to fully complete. There are cutscenes and a whole lot of dialogue but most will likely tune things out as they get rather complicated. If you’re a fan of the series you’ll be right at home but if you’re new to things it may be tough to fully grasp what on Earth is going on. I would suggest taking some time and brushing up through Wikis and other resources, I know I had to constantly check things. I also found the interactions of the cast to be rather enjoyable (this is thanks to the fact that you must use the default teams, but it allows for every possible matchup to be fully voiced and unique) and having multiple branches and perspectives kept me coming back and will continue to as I attempt to clear and see everything. Just make sure you’re in your happy place before taking on a boss, they suffer from the typical fighting game boss annoyances, especially Saiki who could jump off a cliff for all I care. Mission mode has a three-pronged attack: survival, time-attack, and trials. Trials will likely be the most time consuming of these, especially for beginners. Be warned, though: these are rather difficult and intimidating to break through but after the first few come down it will begin getting easier. The modes don’t stop there, though, with the Gallery and Customization options being present, a Replay Mode to relive your moments of glory, and, of course, Online.

The online is a bit of a mixed bag at the moment. SNK and Atlus have pledged that a patch will be out the door but here in January we still have yet to see a thing. The icons that show match connectivity (with four being the highest) are actually somewhat glitchy. This means you could go into a four bar room and find it to be a nightmare of input lag. Then a two bar game could actually be the smoothest of the day. When you get into a fight that works properly and doesn’t get in your way, it’s honest to goodness a whole lot of fun. It’s just that things right now are a bit of a guessing game and while things are being worked on as I type this, it’s frustrating that finding a good match online just seems to boil down to luck.

KoF isn’t a series that has the backing of, say, Street Fighter or Marvel vs. Capcom, so that means that the players that are usually online are the true fans. Do not be shocked at all if you encounter Japanese speaking players in seemingly every match online. If the learning curve for the game itself was as steep as the side of a cliff, then holding one’s own online is like trying to throw a rock and hit the moon. These guys are ridiculously good and they know it, and for someone like myself I was just happy to beat one or two of their characters instead of actually making the match competitive. Surprisingly enough, though, I am happy to say that this community is also highly receptive and encouraging to its newbies. When I started out online I was almost always encountering players that won more than 75% of the time. That’s just the nature of the beast with a game such as this.
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