“It All Began in ‘94”: The 20th Anniversary of SNK’s The King of Fighters
To really understand how SNK’s The King of Fighters survived for so long, you need to take a brief look back at the two series that inspired it in the first place. In 1991, SNK premiered one of their first modern fighting games, Garou Densetsu: Shukumei no Tatakai, known in the west as Fatal Fury: The King of Fighters. It was a clear rival to Capcom’s Street Fighter II which was ironic considering it was headed by Takashi Nishiyama, the man who created the first Street Fighter. The game proved to be a success and in the following year, SNK would create another series, Ryuuko no Ken, known in the West as The Art of Fighting series. These two series were set in the same fictional town, Southtown but never interacted .It wasn’t until 1993’s Fatal Fury Special, which included Ryo Sakazaki as a guest character, that the idea of these two franchises interacting was sparked. However, rather than just making a game featuring only characters from Fatal Fury and Art of Fighting, SNK thought about expanding the rosters as well as creating new characters specific for the game. Finally, on August 25, 1994, taking the subtitle from the first Fatal Fury, The King of Fighters premiered in Japanese arcades.
Since then, the King of Fighters has become the longest running series in SNK’s history as well as fighting game icon. In its 20 years of fighting game service, its inspired 13 main games, as well as countless spin-offs. The series ironically out lived the main games that started and even fall of the original SNK into its current form as SNK Playmore. Even now, SNK Playmore currently is planning a new entry to the series to continue the game’s eternal rule as fighting game royalty.