The King of Fighters '95 is a 2D tag-team fighting game developed and released by SNK for arcades (running Neo Geo MVS hardware) on July 25, 1995. It was subsequently released for the Neo Geo AES and Neo Geo CD later that year.
The second installment of the King of Fighters series (and the sequel to The King of Fighters '94), The King of Fighters '95 improves upon the gameplay mechanics while revamping each character's movelist and introducing the ability for players to customize their own three-fighter team from the overall roster (rather than choose from eight pre-defined teams).
The story continues where the previous game has left off, where a new King of Fighters tournament is being held by the mysterious "R" (again revealed to be ruthless arms dealer Rugal Bernstein, who is believed to have perished after his earlier confrontation). In addition, Japanese delinquent Iori Yagami has joined the tournament with a mysterious rivalry with main protagonist Kyo Kusanagi (bringing the series to its first main story arc, later known as the Orochi Saga).
It is the first game in the King of Fighters series to receive ports to other home consoles (such as the Sony PlayStation and Sega Saturn).
Ports & Re-releases
The game was later ported to the Sega Saturn (exclusively in Japan and Europe, with both versions requiring the bundled memory extension cartridge) and Sony PlayStation throughout 1996, with a handheld adaptation for the Game Boy (known in Japan as Nettou The King of Fighters '95) released in a similar timeframe. The PS1 version was later digitally re-released (as a PSone Classics title) for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, and PlayStation Portable exclusively in Japan (on May 30, 2007) and North America (on July 19, 2011).
The original Neo Geo version was later digitally re-released for the Wii (as a Virtual Console title) in Japan (on December 2009), and in both North America and Europe (in late April of 2010). It was then digitally re-released (as a NEOGEO Station title) for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, and PlayStation Portable worldwide on July 2011 (with the European version released a month later). It was later digitally re-released as part of the ACA NeoGeo series for the Xbox One (on March 30, 2017) PlayStation 4 (on April 27, 2017), Nintendo Switch (on October 12, 2017), and PC (via Microsoft Store on February 28, 2018).
The game was also included in the 2006 King of Fighters Collection: The Orochi Saga compilation for the PlayStation 2, Wii, and PlayStation Portable. As the Japanese version of the compilation is the third volume of the NeoGeo Online Collection series, that version features online multiplayer.
The King of Fighters '95 plays like a traditional 2D fighting game, using four buttons (Light Punch, Light Kick, Strong Punch, and Strong Kick). Most of the gameplay remains the same as its predecessor, with some new additions and changes (including updated movelists for all characters).
In addition to the traditional match condition of best-of-three rounds between two fighters (which can be enabled by the arcade operator or in the home version), the game's main match condition is having teams of three competing against each-other in single-elimination rounds. The winner of each fight receives some of their vitality back and goes on to fight the next person on the opposing team, continuing until all fighters from one team are eliminated.
Main Changes from King of Fighters '94
- Technique names from the How to Play screen are changed.
- Players can now interrupt their side-step dodge into a bonus attack.
- Players can perform a higher jump with a special command.
- Throwing can now be done with either Strong buttons, and players can now throw backwards by holding the joystick in the opposite direction.
- Taunts are now performed by pressing both Light Kick and Strong Punch simultaneously and can now be performed at any range.
- Holding forward or backwards on the joystick wile pressing a Strong button at a close distance can make the fighter perform an unblockable throw. The direction of the joystick determines where the enemy will be thrown. This can also be used to punish the Defense Block maneuver.
- Double-tapping Forward or Backward on the joystick can make the fighter perform a hopping dash, allowing players to close (or widen) the gap between both fighters. However, it leaves them vulnerable to attacks.
- Pressing Down on the joystick quickly before jumping performs a more effective jump (as shown with the fighter leaving an "afterimage" trail).
- Pressing both Light buttons simultaneously can make the fighter perform a side-step dodge (called an "Defense Block"), shifting the player's fighter to the background to avoid attacks (including projectiles). However, it leaves them vulnerable to throws. Pressing any attack button while in a Defense Block can interrupt it for a bonus attack (called a "Punch Grab").
- Pressing both Strong buttons simultaneously can make the fighter perform a knockdown attack (called a "Body Toss Attack") that pushes away opponents (knocking them down in the process). While stronger than normal Strong attacks, it has a lengthy animation that leaves the fighter vulnerable to attacks.
- When in a dizzied state (after being damaged by numerous consecutive attacks), pressing Light Kick and both Punch buttons simultaneously while close to the fighter's allies (and at least one of those allies have not fought in the match) can make that fighter perform an assist attack, where one of those allies jumps in for a knockdown strike (buying the fighter time to recover).
Each fighter has their own Power Gauge on the bottom of the screen, which is automatically charged by blocking attacks and receiving damage. Players can manually affect both Power Gauges using two special techniques:
- Holding down Light Kick and both Punch buttons simultaneously can make the fighter perform a "Power-Up Psyche", allowing them to charge the fighter's Power Gauge manually over time at a fast rate. However, it leaves them vulnerable to attacks.
- Pressing both Light Kick and Strong Punch buttons simultaneously can make the fighter perform a Taunt, depleting part of the enemy's Power Gauge. However, it leaves them vulnerable to attacks.
Once the Power Gauge is filled, the player enters a "MAX" state (as indicated by the fighter flashing bright) where their basic attacks become stronger for a short time. After a short amount of time, the MAX state ends and their Power Gauge is fully depleted.
Players can also perform a hidden character-specific technique (the "Super Special Move") that can only be performed either in the "MAX" state (ending the "MAX" state early) or when the fighter's vitality is low (as shown by a blinking life bar). Performing the technique while both conditions are valid still ends the "MAX" state early.
The game's roster is mostly unchanged from The King of Fighters '94, including 24 playable fighters split into eight teams. Unlike the previous game, teams are no longer organized by nationality.
Replacing the American Sports Team is the new "Rivals Team", featuring Fatal Fury rival Billy Kane, Art of Fighting rival Eiji Kisaragi, and a new rival to protagonist Kyo: Iori Yagami. Also replacing antagonist Rugal's initial fight is a fight against Kyo's brainwashed father, Saisyu.
Unlike its predecessor, which forced players to pick between eight teams, The King of Fighters '95 introduced an optional "Team Edit" mode, which allows players to form their own three-fighter team from the complete roster. This also marks the first time in the series that boss characters are playable (via cheat code).
Art of Fighting Team
Fatal Fury Team
Ikari Warriors Team
Psycho Soldier Team
Women Fighters Team
- Saisyu Kusanagi (sub-boss and new addition, playable with cheat code) - In the single-player mode, he is fought team-less as the first fight of the boss encounter.
- Rugal Bernstein ("Omega" form, final boss, playable with cheat code) - In the single-player mode, he is fought team-less as the second fight of the boss encounter. Uses his black panther Rodem for assist attacks.
- Nakoruru (guest character from the Samuari Shodown series, Game Boy version only, unlockable with cheat code)