As a new player, I felt overwhelmed jumping into The King of Fighters XIV. Learning new games is rarely a simple process, but this one has some extra layers of complication.
I like to try several characters before settling in a new game. This game has 50. Who do I even pick?
There are multiple types of jumps, where most games only have “regular” and “super” jumps.
The inputs for super combos are complicated in a way that many other fighting games have moved away from. And the input leniency is not very lenient at all.
Also, multiply any time you spend learning a character by three, because this is a team game.
This is the document of my attempt to learn The King of Fighters XIV and see if new players can do the same.
I am completely new to the King of Fighters franchise, and the early tutorial gave me a shock when it came to jumps. In other 2D fighters you can jump up, backwards, and forwards, or superjump to get extra height & distance in either of those directions. There usually aren’t more “ways to jump” that aren’t immediately obvious.
In KOF, you’ve got small jumps (hops), medium jumps (dashing or neutral start), and large jumps (dashing or neutral start). If you can’t remember all of those and implement them correctly in matches, you can’t play King of Fighters.
Each jump has different uses, and you need to change them up in order to approach properly. Hops are faster and harder to react to, but too short to clear moves with large hitboxes + most fireballs. Regular jumps are slower and easier to punish, but they can go over fireballs and large hitbox moves.
Once I realized the “trick” to hopping is to just tap a direction and let the stick return to neutral, it became much easier. But I still spent time in the training room springing about, making sure I could consistently get the jump I want.
I also had the aid of a great tutorial video on YouTube.
Thankfully, KOF provides ample tutorial material for new players. The basic tutorial is lengthy, giving text tips and making you try everything yourself. There’s a story mode that lets you fight AI on a challenging but fair difficulty, and Trial mode that teaches five basic combos for every character in the game.
The single-player content like Story, Time Trials, Missions and Survival are important for getting new or casual players into a game. The content is nowhere near as deep as games like Mortal Kombat X in terms of sheer numbers, but this is far from a barebones game. It’s worth the price.
I noticed in the basic tutorial a hurdle that can trip up players attempting to learn the game. Super inputs are hard, and chaining multiple supers together is even harder. The most damaging combos in this game require you to cancel normals into MAX mode into multiple chained supers. If you don’t want every match to Time Over, you’ll need to implement some of those basic combos given to you in Trial Mode. But they are not easy.
Inputs for supers are things that I do not see in the majority of recent fighting games. When learning Yuri I had to practice a lot to remember the input for her Hien Houou Kyaku super- quarter circle forward, half circle back ().
Then I had to practice even more to remember her other supers. And the supers for the rest of my team. What I’m getting at here is this: I forget my super commands a lot.
Even if you know number pad notation, 236, 63214 is not an input I’ve come across in any fighting game I’ve played.
Super cancels can require you to do things like Forward, Half-circle Forward into Quarter-Circle Forward, Quarter-Circle Back (641236 xx 2363214), shown in one of Yuri’s Trials. This requires some precision and speed or the combo will drop.
Some supers will link into others naturally, but others will not link at all. The game places the onus on the player to figure this out in training mode.
Basically, no other fighting game has challenged me to be consistently fast and clean with my inputs during matches. From stage navigation with hops & jumps to super canceling, you have to be extremely precise to win.
I won some online matches utilizing my fundamentals: anti-airing consistently and confirming a few normals into a special for some baby-easy combos. But if you truly want to get good at KOF, you need clean, consistent inputs for chaining supers and special moves together.
If you have bad habits when inputting commands or sloppy inputs in general, the game will let you know. Your moves will not come out, and you need to really train and drill them down if you want to succeed.
I started playing fighting games in 2012, around the time when Persona 4 Arena made a splash by simplifying inputs and giving the entire cast universal mechanics for overheads, sweeps, and supers. And I played that game a lot, enjoying it because of its simpler execution.
I’ll admit that my skills were not good enough for KOF without training. Nothing in this game came naturally or easily for me.
However, I would still recommend this game for newer players because of that reason. If you stick with it, I believe KOF will make you a better fighting game player in general. You’ll sharpen your execution for combat and movement, even if you just sit in training mode or Trials practicing. I noticed going from King of Fighters back to other games that combos felt easier to execute because they have much more input leniency than this game does.
I have a few mechanical complaints about the game. There’s both a guard gauge and a stun mechanic, so you’re punished for being on defense for too long and for getting hit too much. I rarely ever see Stun in a match so I’m not sure why it’s there. There’s no visible Stun bar aside from a not-too-noticable glowing portrait, which just seems like an oversight.
The throw system never felt natural to me. Forward throws are Forward+Heavy Punch, back throws are always Forward+Heavy Kick. Outside of grabbing someone while they were rolling, I would usually just get a normal attack when attempting a throw.
I’m admittedly biased toward throws being LP+LK or (Throw Button) for fighting games.
Even if you’re as terrible at fighting games as I am, I would recommend getting The King of Fighters XIV. If you stick with it and continue practicing with your chosen characters, this game will kick you into shape and make you better at fighting games overall. There’s enough tutorial material and training options to help ease you into the fight, and the ceiling is high enough that you’ll constantly make new discoveries with your team to improve your play.
Check out the tutorial video I linked earlier and the following guide to choosing a character. You should play who you like, but if you’re lost this will give you some easier starting points.