Missed games catch-up, Day 2 (after some delays to relax, play games and do other real life things): Backgrounds from The King of Fighters ‘97. From a gameplay aspect, I never felt a whole lot here to make me want to play this over the ‘96 edition of the series apart from the usual roster changes to keep things fresh. Those include interesting new faces like acrobatic wrestling type Shermie, and Shingo Yabuki, who seems to poke fun at Street Fighter II’s Sakura, and who I always assumed was something of a direct response to Capcom’s Dan Hibiki, who mocks SNK’s Ryo Sazaki.
One thing that I do love about the game though is its aesthetic approach. According to information online, the official story of the King of Fighters series at this point is that following ‘96, there was a commercial surge of fighting tournaments and it shows in the presentation here. Fighting venues tend to be more populous, generally with tournament logos or even small match arenas built. Before each match you get a spiffy looking presentation like something out of pay-per-view, displaying a preview of the location, as well as the time of the match and a count of the attendees. Ring girls (appropriate to each locale) start off the rounds. It all feels very official and helps to set a different atmosphere than the previous games, which is enough to make it feel different even when the fighting itself felt very similar to a casual fighter like me. Of course, as is to be expected by this point from SNK, the characters and backgrounds also look great in addition to the style of the presentation.