Ignition has pushed the European release of King of Fighters XII back to 25th September. The fighting game had been penned in for a late August release.
The current decade has been an interesting time for SNK and The King of Fighters series. After the lacklustre Capcom Fighting Jam in 2004, it seemed Capcom had bowed out of the 2D fighter race, and from then on the only serious competition SNK faced was from Guilty Gear - although both Melty Blood and Arcana Heart get props for spicing things up. But now in 2009 everything has changed. Capcom has exploded back onto the scene with Street Fighter IV, and Arc System has answered with the seminal BlazBlue. From SNK Playmore's own mouth "the fight has evolved", but despite all the hype, The King of Fighters XII doesn't feel like much of an evolution.
The King of Fighters main arcade series - spanning 10 games on the ancient Neo Geo and one on the Atomiswave - has traditionally focused on gradual progression. Each new instalment would jostle the roster and trial a new mechanic or two, but crucially retain the series' inherent style and feel. But with the 12th instalment SNK has finally decided to rework the stagnating series from the ground up. All the characters in XII have had their sprites redrawn by hand and are now larger and vastly more detailed.
SNK has opted to keep each pixel visible as opposed to hidden behind filters. So although some diehard fans will lament the loss of the older sprites, XII nonetheless retains the classic SNK style - albeit in high-definition. Character animation is also more convincing than in previous iterations and although not the best out there, certainly does a good job of bringing the fighters to life. Plus, rather than being static the camera adapts to the state of play. If you're pummelling your opponent in the corner, it zooms in on the action, but if you're trading different-coloured projectiles at a distance, it pans out.
Ignition Entertainment has told Eurogamer that King of Fighters XII is still set for European release on 28th August despite an earlier US launch.
The next instalment in the King of Fighters series has been stamped with a global release date of July 2009.
Peculiar bedfellows, perhaps? There was always going to be a clash somewhere in this year's Coming Attractions as we sorted our way through 12 categories, but you could argue there's more that unites fighting and strategy than divides them. Both are about trying to take maximum of advantage of your opposition's weaknesses, both reward patience, concentration and consideration, and as of Red Alert 3 both have a thing for impractical women's clothing.
SNK has said the new and completely redesigned King of Fighters XII will be available in early 2009 across the US.