Whenever I see titles like King of Fighters 98, I get the sweet tinge of nostalgia in the depths of my jaded heart. I remember when I would go into the local video store and play the NeoGeo Arcade cabinet that featured Metal Slug, The Art of Fighting, and the most popular, King of Fighters. The alternative to Street Fighter, The King of Fighters series developed quite a following over the years, and has appeared on almost every modern platform — While we are pretty sure—16 years later—that Android wasn’t the first round pick,we are left with the question: how well does it hold up on mobile? Unfortunately, a few things have been lost in translation.
King of Fighters ‘98 is a straight up port of the arcade game. New additions include a Bluetooth multiplayer mode, some screen resolution options, training mode, and an achievement system but for the most part — If you knew it then, you know it now. The game boasts a roster of 38 fighters that range from previous versions of the game up unto the ’98 iteration. You select three characters and duke it out one-on-one, as you try to run through the other team. This isn’t like your modern tag fighters, so there are no character combos or high octane tag-ins. This is pure one-on-one fighting at its core.
The games presentation remains very much intact. The pixel art still looks fabulous and the game runs great. Animations are smooth and the action is as intense as ever. The same can’t be said about the character portraits though, which pale in comparison to the art style of the more recent KOFs.
The biggest difference between this version and the original is the controls. The game makes use of the touch screen controls and peppers the screen with a virtual control stick and virtual buttons. Now mobile games have come a long way, but there are times when I’m playing a game on my phone and I think “this would be so much better with an actual controller.” The game works fine when you’re jumping around throwing punches but when you’re seriously trying to pull off backward quarter zigzag motions, the touch screen just falls short.
And this can make playing frustrating. The controls are slightly improved when you change to full screen, but I never totally felt like I was in control and often times longed for the clacking of those colorful buttons at the arcade. The game tries to alleviate this by adding an SP button that simplifies special attacks, but it sometimes feels like a cheat. The game is compatible with Bluetooth controllers, but that defeats the whole point of being a mobile game.
Your mileage with King of Fighters ‘98 will vary depending on how you remember the game. Hardcore fans are probably still playing on other consoles, so the audience buying this game must be people like me, who remember King of Fighters as the other Street Fighter game not made by Capcom. At the end of the day, it’s a straight up port of a 16-year-old with nothing new, and with the wide range of King of Fighters games already available on the Play Store, it’s really up to how fondly you remember this edition.
I was always a Metal Slug kinda guy anyway.
King of Fighters ‘98 is a straight forward port of the game and not much else. That being said, the game is still one of the best King of Fighters games and has aged rather gracefully, despite wonky controls.