The latest installment of SNK’s fighting game The King of Fighters will receive another open beta test on PlayStation platforms on December 17 and 18. SNK has also announced that it’s opened pre-orders for the game and that it will ship with a retail price of $59.99.
SNK broke the news via a short trailer on December 9, which aired during, but not as part of, the 2021 Game Awards. The same trailer also served to introduce a brand-new character, Krohnen, who fights with a martial art that involves, uh, shapeshifting and cybernetic guns. I’m starting to think that KOF needs to hire some referees.
The second KOFXV demo is scheduled to start at 7 PM PST on December 17 for PlayStation 4 and 5 and will run until 6:59 AM on December 20. It features a different roster of playable characters than the previous beta in November, with Krohnen, Terry Bogard, K`, Ryo Sakazaki, Blue Mary, Meitenkun, Antonov, and another new character, Isla, showing up to brawl.
If this beta’s anything like the last one, it’s primarily intended as a test of KOFXV‘s netcode and versus mode, without any of the other planned features.
The King of Fighters XV, like many of the previous games in the series, lets players take one another on in teams of three, battling it out in a single-elimination format. KOF began in 1994 as a company-wide crossover between many of SNK’s arcade franchises, including Fatal Fury, Ikari Warriors, Art of Fighting, and Psycho Soldier. It’s since become SNK’s primary franchise.
If you don’t know KOF at all, it’s probably because you’re from the United States. SNK never had as visible a presence in North America as other big ’90s fighting-game developers like Capcom, but KOF has had a fervent fanbase for decades in Mexico, Brazil, China, Japan, and South Korea.
That fanbase happened to include Nintendo’s Masahiro Sakurai, which is a big part of what got Terry Bogard his slightly controversial slot as a DLC character for Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
Krohnen is a funny character for long-time KOF fans, as his design appears to be a full-body shout-out to Katsuhiro Otomo’s seminal anime and manga Akira. It’s also reminiscent of K9999, a much more blatant Akira ripoff that was introduced during the years when KOF was being developed by the Korean firm Eolith.
SNK later made a sustained effort to throw K9999 down the memory hole, which fans assumed was an attempt to avoid getting sued. Instead, Krohnen appears to be a near-total redesign of the character, with many of the same animations and a visibly identical attitude problem.
The King of Fighters XV will ship to stores on February 17, 2022. Buyers of the physical-only “Day One Edition” will receive a new costume for Terry, which dresses him up like his older self from 1999’s Garou: Mark of the Wolves.
The digital deluxe edition of KOFXV ($84.99) includes three days of early access; the first Team Pass that includes a total of six DLC characters, coming after launch; and a new “Classic Leona” costume that restores her look from The King of Fighters ’96.