If you grew up during the late 70’s or the early 80’s then you were lucky enough to experience the full impact of the ‘golden age of arcade games’ and probably have fond have memories of sneaking out to your towns local games center to blow your weekly pocket money on endless attempts at beating the highest Pac-man score or making it to the last level of the Tetris puzzle game. During this time the immense popularity of arcade games saw a sudden switch from bulky coin operated arcade machines to home gaming consoles, with several big name companies such as Taito, Midway MFG, Sega and Namco all jumping in to develop more diverse game genres for us to enjoy. All the money being poured into this niche industry suddenly sped up the evolution of entertainment technology and within a few years games went from being flat blocky ‘Pong’ and ‘Astroid’ styled games with limited controls, to more complicated concepts with detailed characters, interesting storylines, faster game-play and much better graphic resolution.
Rise of the King of Fighters
Of all the gaming genres that came about during the rise of the arcade game craze it was the one on one ‘Fighting’ titles which gained the most popularity amongst gaming enthusiasts, offering a huge number of memorable games including Street Fighter, Tekken, Mortal Combat, Fatal Fury, King of Monsters and the King of Fighters, to name just a few. From all of these the King of Fighters saga is possibly one of the most sought after titles available, in fact it is still played to this day on state of the art 3-D consoles and has spawned endless amounts of merchandise as well as a Hollywood blockbuster movie.
It is widely believed that the first playable fighting games came out in the mid to late 80’s with the release of the classic Karate Champ, Way of the Exploding Fist and Yie Ar Kung Fu; all offering up the basic building blocks for the future fighting game titles. Although, it wasn’t until the 90’s that this genre really took off, with the popular Street Fighter arcade game leading the way with its tournament styled game-play and mixture of colorful characters from all over the globe.
Arcade games, both in the arcade and on the home consoles, now offered faster game-play than ever before, as well as sharper less blocky 3-D styled graphics lending a realistic edge to the storylines. Fighting game titles had become the main focus for competition in the industry and SNK Neo Geo came out with 3 popular games titles between 1991 and 1993 in an attempt to rival Capcom’s Street Fighter series; Fatal Fury, King of Monsters and Art of Fighting all classics in their own right. But it was the release of King of Fighters in 1994 that caused a stir with gaming enthusiasts, offering characters from previous titles including the Fatal Fury and Art of Fighting series, the older Ikari Warriors and Psycho Soldier releases as well as a few of the popular sports games. Gamers immediately recognized these familiar faces and loved the new ‘team-up’ game-play aspect, which allowed a player to choose 3 characters to fight your way through the levels.
Due to its immense popularity the King of Fighters 94 was immediately preceded by a 95 version with additional characters, new more complicated attacks and special finishing moves. The SNK team continued to release The King of Fighters series up until 1997 after which remakes were created for the Playstation and Xbox consoles as well as several versions made for handheld gaming devices.
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