Playable characters from The King of Fighters ‘99: Match of the Milennium. Apparently SNK is among those companies who thought the last year of the milennium was 1999 instead of 2000. An easy mistake to make. Perhaps they thought this truly would be the match of the milennium since the world was going to end in fiery rain of malfunctioning computers on January 1, 2000 anyway. They even call this the “Fifth Episode” in the intro even though it’s the sixth game in the series. (There may be some sort of in-continuity reason for this oddity, and I have no doubt someone will point it out to me.)
This is one of my least favorite entries in the series, and it’s entirely for aesthetic reasons. I’ll grant that the selectable roster continues to blow away the offerings from Capcom, and the game probably plays fine (I haven’t spent enough time with it to know all the nuanced changes apart from a fourth-character jump-in striker system similar to what we see in Marvel vs. Capcom), but I don’t care for the design and graphics of the characters. The portrait-style appearances have a sharper, grittier look than the games before or after them, which feels like it might have been inspired by those in Street Fighter Alpha 3. I prefer the more colorful, gradiated images from other entries in the series.
The sprites feel… Odd in-game as well. It may have been my imagination, but they don’t seem to move as smoothly as I expected. Some of them, even in their idle animations, look like frames have been chopped, and some of them just felt off to me. When this very franchise offers so many other games you could choose from, this was enough to make a big difference to me, and when I feel the need to get my KOF fix on, I’ll probably continue to stick with 2000 and ‘98.