The King of Fighters Fundamentals – Tips & Tricks To Prepare For XIII

A lot of people have written in asking for tips and suggestions with Atlus and SNK Playmore’s King of Fighters XIII.  While none of us at the site are hardcore dedicated KoF professionals, we do know a thing or two about the series.  What follows is a very brief tutorial on the fundamentals, and a few tips and tricks we’ve learned from our time with The King of Fighters XIII.

The King of Fighters '94 started the craze. Combining classic fighters from The Art of Fighting, Fatal Fury and others was brilliant.

The very first thing everyone should know when picking up the latest King of Fighters is that it isn’t Street Fighter or Marvel vs. Capcom.  Sure you beat your opponent’s brains out, but the way in which KoF plays is quite different.  The original KoF was released in arcades and on the Neo Geo AES home console, which featured an arcade stick as its pack-in controller.  In order to fully enjoy the series a solid arcade joystick is required, so be sure to pick one up before picking up KoF XIII.  It’s the only way to easily perform the various jumps, hops, cancels, guard blocks, etc.

Let’s start out with a few pointers on the series as a whole.

Step 1: Practice jumping.  There are four distinct types of jumps in the KoF series, a normal jump, super jump, short hop and hyper hop.  Each jump will give you a different hit box on your opponent, so it’s important to understand how all these jumps work otherwise you’ll find yourself in a situation where you’re crouching and blocking and someone hops in and hits you.

Normal jump: Move the joystick in any upward direction.

Super jump: Press any downward direction followed by a quick flick of the joystick in either the top left or top right direction.  It’s important to note that you cannot jump straight up.  Super jumps also leave you more vulnerable to attack compared to a normal jump, so only use them when needed.

Short hop: Quickly flick the joystick in any upward direction.  The short hop is one of the best offensive moves because opponents typically don’t know what you’re about to do when you perform a short hop.  This allows you to fake an attack or go in for a short attack.

Hyper hop: Flick any downward direction, followed by either quick top right or left.  Like the super jump, the Hyper hop cannot be performed straight up.

These different jump techniques help separate KoF from everything else, but they also force players to practice four times as much.  It’s worth the time practicing when you can constantly be on the offensive and drive the battle directly to your opponent.

KoF '95 - Iori Yagami was introduced and became a fan favourite. Gameplay was similar to '94.

Step 2: Practice basic standing, crouching and jump attacks.  What I mean by this is stand in one spot and press the low punch button, or high punch button.  Then repeat in the crouching position, and finally while jumping straight up, while hyper hopping, etc.  This will take a long time to master, but understanding how the hit boxes work with each of the above jumps is the key to survival.

KoF '96 - First time significant changes to the gameplay were made, and these alterations are still part of the series today.

Step 3: Practice rolling.  Rolls are one of the best ways to get out of a sticky situation.  A roll is executed by pressing the low punch and low kick button at the same time.  You can either roll away or towards an opponent.  Whenever pesky projectiles come your way, you can use one of the four jumps to evade it, or a roll.  Like everything else, you have to weigh your options because rolls can leave you open to attack.  They can also confuse an opponent as to which direction you’ll end up facing, and score you a free attack.

These three steps should help you come to terms with the basic fundamentals of the King of Fighters series.  It has always been a tremendously technical fighter that requires a lot of practice and patience to get good at.  Some players may be overwhelmed at first, but keep at it and before you know it you’ll be able to hold your ground.

KoF '97 - Players had the ability to select between two different gameplay styles, '96 or '94/'95.

I’ve included two videos I found on YouTube that show you examples of what I wrote above.  Keep in mind these videos were originally intended to get people interested in KoF XII which completely bombed, but we’re hopeful more people will get into XIII as it is a much more fleshed out game.

KoF '98 - At this point in time the developers were going through a rough time so this KoF featured no storyline, but almost every character from the previous entries was available for use, even characters who had died.

I also wanted to briefly touch on The King of Fighters XIII because some people are having trouble with the new canceling system, and understanding the various names of the special moves.

Tip 1: Understanding the terminology

Special Move – standard projectiles, uppercuts, almost any quarter-circle forward/back plus an attack button will result in a special move.  This move doesn’t use any of the power gauge stock.

EX Special Move – Typically you use the same input command as the Special Move except you press both kick/punch buttons.  This move consumes one power stock.

Super Special Move – These moves are also called Desperation Moves.  If we take Kyo as an example, his Desperation Move (Ura 108-Shiki Orochinagi) is quarter-circle back, half-circle forward punch.  A Desperation Move uses one power stock.

EX Super Special Move – Just like the EX Special Move, these moves are simply Desperation Moves using both low and high attacks, either punch or kick.  The EX Super Special Move consumes two power stocks.

NEO MAX Move – This is the most powerful move in the game and each character only has one of them.  It consumes three power stocks and the entire Hyperdrive (HD) gauge. Performing the NEO MAX Move while in Hyperdrive Mode will only consume two power stocks and the remaining HD gauge.

KoF '99 - Introduced the Striker character, who would assist the standard three-person team . Dream Cancels were also introduced in this KoF.

Tip 2: Hyperdrive

Hyperdrive Mode – When the HD gauge is at 100%, pressing the low punch and high kick buttons at the same time will activate Hyperdrive Mode.  This will grant the ability to perform consecutive Cancels, and save one power stock when performing a NEO MAX move.

KoF 2000 - Featured more refinements to the Striker ally system.

Tip 3: Canceling and how it works

Without a doubt Cancels will be the most challenging aspect of KoF XIII for new players to perform.  The rule of thumb is this, experiment with timing and inputs.  Sometimes you don’t need to input the entire second command for a cancel to be activated.  Experiment a lot, and eventually you’ll know what works for you and the characters you enjoy using.

KoF 2001 - Further refinements to the Striker system were made, which allowed players to mix and match the three player team and the striker.

Drive Cancel – Enter the command for a Special Move, and the second it hits enter the command for a second Special Move.  You can’t cancel a projectile attack into a physical attack, but you can do the reverse.  Take Kyo as an example, if I were to press forward, down, down forward and punch, and then immediately press down punch, so long as the first Special Move hits, Kyo will cancel his uppercut (100-Shiki Oniyaki) with a projectile attack (108-Shiki Yamibarai).  This takes a lot of practice to get right, especially because the cancel window is extremely short, meaning you have only a fraction of a second to enter the next command.  Drive Cancels use 50% of the HD gauge.

KoF 2002 - SNK changed things up with this iteration by removing the Striker system. The gameplay was changed to resemble KoF '98 with a more refined MAX system.

Super Cancel – Unlike a Drive Cancel, a Super Cancel can be executed regardless if the first move is blocked or misses the mark.  To perform a Super Cancel execute the command for a Special Move and during the animation follow it up with a Desperation Move.  Some characters allow Super Cancels to be executed almost immediately after the Special Move has been entered.  Super Cancels use one power stock and 50% of the HD gauge.

KoF 2003 - This was the final yearly release, and the last instalment on the Neo Geo platform. It was the first in the series to use a tag-team system where characters could be switched out during a round.

Hyperdrive Cancel – While in Hyperdrive Mode perform a Special Move and follow it up with another Special Move, or a Desperation move, or even a NEO MAX Move.  Depending on which move is followed up with; the power stock will go down accordingly.  The Special Move doesn’t need to hit in order for the follow-up to work.

KoF XI - This was the first numbered instalment and also featured 2003's tag-team system, including refined cancel techniques originally introduced in KoF '99.

MAX Cancel – The most powerful combo in the game.  Enter Hyperdrive Mode, perform a Desperation Move and during the animation, follow it up with a NEO MAX Move.  The timing must be exactly right for this to work.  This cancel costs three power stocks to perform.  To give you an idea of how to perform such an attack we’ll take Kyo’s MAX cancel as an example.  First enter Hyperdrive mode, HP + LK, then  down, quarter-circle back and half-circle forward Punch, the second you finish entering the command, start with quarter-circle forward twice in a row, and as the Desperation Move connects, finish the movement with both Punch buttons [LP + HP].  This move will take some serious practice to get just right.

KoF XII - This was the first time SNK redrew the sprites for all the characters. The home release was considered a failure because of so many missing features. KoF XII removed the tag-team elements introduced in 2003, and focused more heavily on critical counters.

Tip 4: Guard Cancels

Guard Cancel Roll – Press low punch and low kick when blocking an attack.  The Guard Cancel Roll costs one power stock to use.

Guard Cancel Blowback Attack – Press high punch and high kick when blocking an attack.  The Guard Cancel Blowback Attack consumes one power stock and is sometimes referred to as a CD Counter (CD refers to the arcade buttons C and D, which is high punch and high kick).

KoF XIII - Are you ready now?

So there you have it folks.  The King of Fighters XIII was just released this past week and it’s already garnering a lot of praise among the hardcore fighting fans.  Since Atlus is publishing it there’s a very good chance a bunch of new players will give it a shot, so I hope this article gives you a brief overview of what to expect.  If you just head online prepare to be destroyed by players who have been playing this unique fighting series since ‘94.  By using the techniques described above and slowly practicing with friends, I’m sure over time everyone will come to appreciate one of the best fighting series out there.  Just remember, this is a hardcore fighting fan’s fighter, it’s supposed to take a long time to master, and will not be one of those games you can just pick up and button mash your way to victory.  It requires time, devotion and patience.  Now you’re ready to get out there and join the tournament and see if you really are The King of Fighters.

2 thoughts on “The King of Fighters Fundamentals – Tips & Tricks To Prepare For XIII”

  1. I’m not getting much better at this even though I’ve played quite a lot in the past few days. I get my ass kicked by my friends who simply button mash. I just don’t know how to do simple combos and cancels. I’m just doing the special moves which is good, but you need gages to do the ex ones and the regular moves don’t do much damage.

  2. Yeah don’t fret man, I’m in the exact same boat. I can pull off regular moves left and right, but I can’t pull of virtually anything once I play real life people. I hate button mashing so I won’t be doing that when we finally play. I’m positive you’ll kick my butt now only because of all the practice, which is good though. It’ll convince me to practice more. Right now I’m having too much fun with Zelda to practice on the 360 version so I don’t care either way lol.

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