King of Fighters ’96 PS3 Review


King of Fighters ’96 is one of two latest offerings from SNK Playmore via their ‘NeoGeo Station’ PSN revival. The project is now in its fourth wave with the release of the aforementioned KoF ’96 and Metal Slug 2 (look forward to coverage on that soon).

Visually, King of Fighters ’96 does not fail. Sprites are crisp and hold up decently impressive animations even to this day. Stage backgrounds retain a richly retro feel and yet still manage to immerse you in the fight. SNK’s ablility to make a fighting game (and series at that) retains its trademark style and flair after 14 years is commendable. Don’t get me wrong, as with everything, time definitely shows its effects on the game however there’s just a level of ‘coolness’ that the King of Fighters series has always showcased, and this NeoGeo port is no exception.

In the department of sound, KoF ’96 doesn’t fail. Hits, explosions, battle cries, and death screams all flowed unfettered through my television set. The port doesn’t sacrifice in sound at all. Combine that with the ability to hear the classic Japanese voices and you’ll find that they’ve completed the package.

The final two things I’d like to touch on is SNK’s superb emulation overlay and the inclusion of online play. KoF ’96 has been ported with SNK’s top notch overlay, with its crystal-clear icons and very simplistic menus. Included is a virtual manual for the game along with a complete movelist for each character (something I very much appreciated!). While these aesthetic additions are nice, what’s most notable is the addition of Network Play. During my trial runs, I was able to fight (and beat!) a number of people. I don’t know what netcode SNK is using, but it works quite well. Connections rarely ever failed and I was able to play against a considerable amount of people. This addition alone justifies the somewhat steep $8.99 asking price in my opinion.

If you’re a fan of fighting games, or even just a big fan of retro titles, I’d recommend KoF ’96. The respectably large roster (for that era), robust emulation overlay, and extremely smooth and fluid online play component make it a title that I can honestly say is worth your time and money.

King of Fighters ’96 is available on the PlayStation Network now.

7 out of 10
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