It seems my arcade stick skills are getting rusty. I used to play 2D fighters with an aptitude for meticulous motions and flawless timing, but since Street Fighter IV, the shift towards more lenient input recognition has made me complacent. It's not like I can't put together some decent combos, but when playing The King of Fighters 2002: Unlimited Match, I'm reminded of a less forgiving time.
A time when consistent super-cancelling wasn't achieved through rabid stick twirling and optimistic mashing, but instead demanded you buffer the motion perfectly within a strict window of opportunity – otherwise, there'd be no martial arts explosion at the end your epic combo. Unfortunately, this is something which has initially plagued my return to KOF, because Unlimited Match is both a tiger-kick up the backside for shoddy stick-work and a compelling revamp aimed squarely at SNK die-hards.
The original King of Fighters 2002 was a "dream match" instalment in a similar vein to last year's KOF XII. All the characters from the NESTS trilogy were pooled together for a non-canon slugfest, resulting in an impressive roster of 44 which included staples like Terry Bogard and Kyo Kusanagi as well as relative newcomers like Kula Diamond and K'.