List of The King of Fighters characters

Character roster of The King of Fighters XI

The King of Fighters fighting game series, produced by SNK Playmore, includes a wide cast of characters, some of which are taken from other SNK games. The story takes place in a fictional universe in which an annual series of 3-on-3 or 4-on-4 fighting tournaments are held.

The first game in the series introduces the initial main character of the series, Kyo Kusanagi, a young Japanese fighter who is the heir to a powerful group of martial artists having pyrokinetic abilities. Kyo fights against the Kusanagi clan's enemies, his rival Iori Yagami, and the god Orochi and its human followers, among others. The first four games in the series revolve about these fights, while The King of Fighters '99 introduces a new story arc, revolving around K′, a young man who seeks to destroy the mysterious NESTS organization because they kidnapped him at an early age and stripped him of his past memories, so that they could force him to be a fighter under their control. In The King of Fighters 2003, a new character named Ash Crimson enters the tournament, to steal the powers of the clans who sealed the Orochi in the past for unknown reasons. A new group of antagonists, known as Those From the Past, also appears in the series; they want to obtain Orochi's power for the purpose of giving it to their unknown master.

The plot and the characters came from the Yamata no Orochi legend. There are also several characters in the games that are parodies or homages. Merchandise based on the characters has also been released, including action figures and keychains. The characters have garnered praise from several video game publications for the quality of their designs and movesets. Comments focused on the lack of improvements in some of the characters, but added that the roster is greatly diverse.

Cast creation and influencesEdit

The developers of the series claim that their prototype version for King of Fighters was going to be a side-scrolling beat 'em up titled Survivor. It would have used only core characters from the Art of Fighting and Fatal Fury series, specifically allowing players to play Robert Garcia and Terry Bogard for location testing. However, the idea was quickly abandoned. Since the developers were attached to the idea of the two series cross-over, they eventually agreed to make their idea into a fighting game. Characters from the Ikari Warriors and Psycho Soldier games were also added in the spirit of other gaming genres considered for their final product. The concept of a three-man team was one of the ideas kept from the side-scrolling version.[1] Flagship director Toyohisa Tanabe asserts that the Art of Fighting and Fatal Fury fighters were added specifically for adults. The newer King of Fighters characters were aimed to appeal to younger and newer audiences. He adds that every original character for the series was added based on the developers' strong desire to make one. For example, he agreed to include characters such as Benimaru Nikaido and Chang Koehan to add an off-beat variety to the cast, which he had previously deemed to be too serious. Later in the series, their approach to creating their characters altered slightly, to also serve as a type of fan service, which he refers to as a collaborative effort between fans and the staff.[2]

Several characters that appear in the series are parodies or homages to either anime, manga, actors, films or television shows that held the creators' interest. Noticeable examples are K9999 and Zero.[2] Characters are sometimes added at the voice actors' convenience, or to fill in gaps that occur for each installment's story; this happens with Duck King in The King of Fighters XI and Ryuji Yamazaki in The King of Fighters '97.[3][4] Several characters were added to the roster by Eolith's desire when this company sponsored SNK, to attract fans from Eolith's region.[5]

When designing characters for the first King of Fighters game, developers wanted a new, "snazzy" hero who would easily fight against Fatal Fury and Art of Fighting characters. Initially, this character was called Syo Kirishima, but late in the production, his name was changed to Kyo Kusanagi. This was done in order to relate him with the Yamata no Orochi legend, which was used as the inspiration for the first arc (and specifically featured a majestic sword known as Kusanagi no Tsurugi).[6] To continue with the idea of the Orochi plot, the designers gave several other characters, such as Kyo's rival Iori Yagami, similar characteristics to Kyo.[7] In The King of Fighters '99, to contrast the previous protagonist of the series, K' was made to be the "dark hero".[8] K's introduction to the series was meant to remove popular characters Kyo Kusanagi and Iori Yagami from the roster, though this idea was scrapped in the game's release.[9] Due to the large additions of teenager characters in the series, SNK decided to add several middle-age ones to balance them.[10][11]

Original charactersEdit

American Sports TeamEdit

Voiced by: Toshikazu Nishimura (KOF '94, KOF '98), Takayuki Nakatsukasa (KOF:D onwards) (Heavy D!)
Voiced by: Kay Inage (KOF '94, KOF '98), Haruo Yamagishi (KOF:D onwards) (Lucky)
Voiced by: Eiji Yano (KOF '94, KOF '98), Taro Kiuchi (KOF:D onwards) (Brian)

The American Sports Team, also known as the U.S.A. Team, is composed of characters originating from the United States of America. First appearing in The King of Fighters '94, the team consists of Heavy D!, a famous boxer who was expelled after seriously injuring an opponent during a match, Lucky Glauber, a former basketball player and a karate champion, and Brian Battler, the MVP football player of the year but known for his brash and violent behavior in the sport.

Despite not winning the '94 tournament, in their non-canonical ending, Brian returns to football for his fans while Lucky and Heavy D! will continue street fighting and promise Brian to contact him for further competitions. Unfortunately, a running gag in the series is that the American Sports Team have always been invited to participate in the later tournaments, only to get beaten up and have their own invitations being stolen by other teams prior to the start of each tournament. The team itself would make their return in The King of Fighters '98, though it is not canonical in the series but instead a “dream match” as it features every character up to that point in the canon story-line.

Since then, the American Sports Team have made non-playable appearances in later games of the series as background characters and in other games. However, in the PlayStation 2 version of The King of Fighters 2000, the American Sports Team appear as optional strikers for the Fatal Fury Team with Heavy D! being a striker for Joe, Lucky for Andy, and Brian for Terry.

AntonovEdit

Voiced by: Moriyuki Hishida

Antonov (アントノフ, Antonofu, Антонов) is a Russian billionaire and the president of his own company, the Antonov Corporation. After being reinvigorated for his love of fighting, he purchases the rights to the King of Fighters brand despite objections from the board members of his company, and announces a new King of Fighters tournament. Proclaiming himself as the “first champion”, he sends out invitations across the world, challenging old and new teams to take his "KOF" championship belt away from him.

Ash CrimsonEdit

China TeamEdit

Voiced by: Takashi Ōhara (Shun'ei)
Voiced by: Hajime Shikase (Tung Fu Rue)
Voiced by: Seira Ryu (Meitenkun)

The China Team, which is unrelated to the China Team that appeared in The King of Fighters '94, is composed of characters originating from China. First appearing in The King of Fighters XIV, the team consists of Shun'ei, a fighter who wields hydrokinesis in a form of a claw on his right side of his body and pyrokinesis in a form of a fist on his left side of his body, Tung Fu Rue, the legendary master of Hakkyokuseiken who had debuted in Fatal Fury, and Meitenkun, a young fighter who is always holding a pillow and is very sleepy.

Despite having little knowledge of the King of Fighters, Tung convinces Shun and Meitenkun to enter the tournament as a means for them to face off against renowned martial artists from around the world. In addition, Tung saw the tournament as an opportunity to reunite with the Bogard brothers and meet Kyo Kusanagi, the latter after his father Saisyu requested the Japan Team to help Tung's students with their training. During the tournament finals, Shun learns that he possesses a fragment of Verse's power, which causes Verse to go after Shun. After Verse is defeated, the team returns to the Wudang Mountains where Shun tells his teammates that Kyo advised him to continue his training to keep his powers under control to which Shun vows to train harder.

Chizuru KaguraEdit

Voiced by: Akito Sato (KOF '96KOF 2000), Yukiko Sugawa (KOF 2003),[12] Sayaka Ohara (KOFAS)

Chizuru Kagura (神楽 ちづる, Kagura Chizuru) is a member of the Yata clan who holds one of the three sacred artifacts, the Yata Mirror, that originally sealed the serpent monster Orochi eighteen hundred years ago. As the younger heiress of the Yata clan, the other being her older twin sister Maki Kagura, Chizuru was raised as a priestess who maintains the duty of keeping the diligent seal on Orochi intact. One night, Goenitz visited their home and destroyed the seal after killing Maki since the Yata Mirror cannot fight Orochi nor Goenitz's strength alone without the aid of the other two clans. Though in a weaken state, Orochi was released from its seal and Goenitz leaves satisfy. Before her death, Maki passes on the responsibilities of the seal to Chizuru, begging her to bring the three clans together to defeat Orochi. Ten years afterwards, Chizuru becomes a very successful and prestigious businesswoman and the owner of Kagura Enterprises. During this time, she secretly kept track with the King of Fighters tournaments since it began with Geese Howard and comes up with an idea to bringing the clans together.

First appearing in The King of Fighters '96, Chizuru hosts the tournament with the goal of bringing together the three clans by entreating Kyo Kusanagi and Iori Yagami to help her replace the broken seal. During the finals of the tournament however, Goenitz appears to finally end all three heirs at once but is defeated by Kyo, with the assistance of Iori and Chizuru. Humiliated, Goenitz takes his own life by cutting his body by his own wind. In the aftermath, both Kyo and Iori protests into working together and leave Chizuru. In The King of Fighters '97, Chizuru hosts the tournament again but this time, requests to join the Women Team with Mai Shiranui and King, which they agree. During the finals of the tournament, Chizuru abandons her teammates and joins up with Kyo and Iori where they confront the remaining Orochi servants: Yashiro Nanakase, Shermie, and Chris. After defeating them, Orochi possesses Chris' body and attempts to destroy the three clans at once. The “Sacred Treasures Team” then successfully defeats him and in a last-ditch effort, Orochi causes Iori to enter the Riot of Blood, expecting him to turn on Kyo and Chizuru. Instead, Iori snares Orochi by the neck, and Kyo obliges his rival by crippling the great demon with one last deathblow, allowing Chizuru to reseal Orochi again.[13]

In The King of Fighters 2003, Chizuru hosts another tournament with her intentions similar to her previous attempt in 1996 but during the tournament, she becomes mind-control by a member of Those From the Past. She creates an illusion of her sister Maki and creates a clone from Kyo named Kusanagi to test the strength of the tournament's contestants.[14] Eventually, she breaks free from her mind-control, catches up with Kyo and Iori, and tries to restore the seal of Orochi. However, Ash Crimson seriously attacks her from behind and steals the Yata Mirror from her body before evading Kyo and Iori.[15] While she doesn't appear in The King of Fighters XI, Chizuru asks Shingo Yabuki to enter the tournament with Kyo and Iori to investigate Ash and the weakened Orochi seal as she cannot due to still recovering from her injuries.[16] Unfortunately, the investigation ends with Iori, while in the Riot of the Blood state, nearly killing Kyo and Shingo, and Ash stealing the Yasakani no Magatama from Iori's body and his flames. In the conclusion of The King of Fighters XIII, after Evil Ash erases himself and his ancestor Saiki from existence, both Iori and Chizuru regain their sacred treasures.

After Verse is defeated in The King of Fighters XIV, Chizuru senses Orochi's presence in Hungary. After contacting Kyo and Iori, the trio find a still awakening Orochi in Aggtelek Karst and seal Orochi once again.

In the 2010 live-action film adaptation of The King of Fighters, Chizuru is portrayed by Chinese-Canadian actress Françoise Yip.

Duo LonEdit

Voiced by: Tsunehito Maruo[12] (Japanese); Josh Keller (KOF XII)[17] (English)

Duo Lon (Chinese: 堕瓏; Pinyin: Duòlóng; Japanese: デュオロン Dyuoron) makes his first appearance in The King of Fighters 2003 as a member of the game's Hero Team. His overall look was based on anime title character Vampire Hunter D.[18] He is a member of the assassin group, the Flying Brigands—or Hizoku (飛賊, Hizoku)—and the half-brother of Xiao Lon. He is an acquaintance of Ash Crimson and Shen Woo.

Hoping to hunt down the clan's traitor, Ron, he agrees to enter the tournament with them. However, after discovering Ash's true objectives, he teams up with Elisabeth Blanctorche and Benimaru Nikaido. Information on Duo Lon's design graph revealed he is one of the nine children of Ron, an assassin who chased after his own father.[19]

Elisabeth BlanctorcheEdit

Voiced by: Kayoko Oshima

Elisabeth Blanctorche (エリザベート・ブラントルシュ, Erizabēto Burantorushu) (spelled "Elisabeth Branctorche" in The King of Fighters XII) is one of three original characters debuting in The King of Fighters XI. Her initial character concept was to be the rival to Ash, though developers decided to change her into a "leading lady" character. The developers also describe her fighting style as "orthodox with subtle tricks [to it]" despite her minimal moveset.[20]

She initially invites Benimaru Nikaido and Duo Lon to France to form the Rival Team. She eventually reveals her acquaintance with Ash Crimson, whom she scolds for seeming to forsake their mission. Elisabeth did not appear in the arcade version of The King of Fighters XII, but was added as one of two characters exclusive to the home release of the game. Like the rest of the cast, she does not have a team for The King of Fighters XII (though the two other members of her team from King of Fighters XI are present in the game). For The King of Fighters XIII, she now appears on a team with Ash's former team members from the 2003 tournament (Shen Woo and Duo Lon), effectively forming what seems to be the new Hero Team.

Though she does not participate in The King of Fighters XIV, she enlists Kukri's help in finding Ash, as his body can be seen lying on the ground in Ukraine's Carpathian Mountains, with his soul burning around it, indicating that Ash is alive once again, much to Elisabeth's rejoice.

Iori YagamiEdit

Japan TeamEdit

The Japan Team, also known as the Kyo Team, is composed of characters originating from Japan. First appearing in The King of Fighters '94, the original team consisted of Kyo Kusanagi (草薙 京), a high school student who is the heir to the Kusanagi clan wielding pyrokinetic abilities, Benimaru Nikaido (二階堂 紅丸 Nikaidō Benimaru?), a professional fighter and model who can create electricity,[21] and Goro Daimon (大門 五郎 Daimon Gorō), a former gold medalist in Judo and mentor to his own dojo.[22]

During the Orochi saga, the Japan Team emerged victorious in the first four tournaments. In the climax of The King of Fighters '97, Kyo, along with his rival Iori Yagami, and Chizuru Kagura, seal away Orochi, saving mankind from destruction. After the fight however, Kyo was kidnapped by a mysterious cartel while Benimaru resumed his modeling career and went on a world tour, and Goro retires from being a fighter and returns to the Judo circuit representing Japan.[23] Also in ’97, Shingo Yabuki (矢吹 真吾 Yabuki Shingo?), a high school student who idolizes Kyo and dreams of being able to wield flames, becomes a friend of the team and appears as an edit entry character.[24]

During the NESTS saga which began in The King of Fighters '99, Benimaru and Shingo are invited to participate in the tournament but were assigned to a “special team” with newcomers K' and Maxima. Winning the tournament, they learned that NESTS was responsible for Kyo's disappearance, and escaped the crumbling base after a brief reunion with Kyo and being separated from K' and Maxima. In The King of Fighters 2000, Benimaru forms his own team, the "Benimaru Team" with Shingo, and two newcomers: Seth, an old friend of Benimaru and a mercenary, and Lin, a Hizoku clan assassin seeking to find a man named Ron. Following Southtown's destruction from the Zero Cannon, Ron confronted the Benimaru Team but escaped after Benimaru saves Lin from being killed. In The King of Fighters 2001, Kyo reunites with his friends, and as the Japan Team (with Shingo being the fourth member) enter the tournament to battle against NESTS, but also relive their time together as a team. After the tournament was over following NEST's destruction, the Japan team went their separate ways.

In The King of Fighters 2003, Benimaru, Goro, and Shingo enters the tournament as the Benimaru Team while Kyo, Iori, and Chizuru enter as the Sacred Treasures Team to investigate suspicious activities concerning the Orochi. Later, Kyo's team is ambushed by Ash Crimson, who steals the power of the Yata Mirror from Chizuru and vows to steals the powers from both Iori and Kyo. In The King of Fighters XI, Kyo, Iori, and Shingo enter the tournament together at the convalescent Chizuru's behest (Shingo's presence serving ostensibly to keep Kyo and Iori from being at each other's throats) to stop Ash as the '"Kusanagi & Yagami Team". Meanwhile, Benimaru and Duo Lon, a teammate of Ash's team from the previous tournament, are invited by Elisabeth Blanctorche to enter the tournament as the Rival Team to track down Ash. Near the end of the tournament, the growing presence of the Orochi from Magaki causes Iori to snap and enter into the Riot of the Blood state, nearly killing Kyo and Shingo. Ash appears thereafter and steals the Yasakani no Magatama within Iori's body, along with his flames and escapes after a brief confrontation with the Rival team. In The King of Fighters XIII, Kyo, Benimaru, and Goro enter the tournament to relive their old days as the Japan team. Following the tournament, Iori regains Yasakani no Magatama and his flames, and fights Kyo to an unknown outcome.

In The King of Fighters XIV, Saisyu Kusanagi (Kyo's father) informs Kyo of a new threat which will cause untold chaos. On his father's suggestion, he convenes with Tung Fu Rue and Nakoruru to investigate, while entering the tournament with Benimaru and Goro as the Japan Team. After winning the tournament, Kyo advises Shun'ei to keep training to control his powers. At the airport, he tells his teammates to go home without him and travels to Hungary. In Hungary, Chizuru had called him there for his assistance after Iori found a weakened Orochi and seal it together once again.

In the spinoff series The King of Fighters EX, there are two additional members of the Japan Team: Moe Habana (葉花 萌, Habana Moe), an Asian American high school girl from the United States who is one of the ten treasures of Japan with her treasure being the "Yatsuka Sword" (八握 剣, Yatsuka no Tsurugi ), and Reiji Oogami (大神 零児, Ohgami Reiji), a Japanese man from Japan who is a member of the Yata clan, and one of the keepers of the ten treasures, the "Hetsu Mirror" (辺津 鏡, Hetsu Kagami).

K′Edit

Kim TeamEdit

The Kim Team, also known as the Korea Justice Team, and originally the Korea Team, is composed of characters mostly originating from South Korea and are mostly taekwondo practitioners. First appearing in The King of Fighters '94, the original team consisted of Kim Kaphwan (who had debuted in Fatal Fury 2), a national hero in his homeland of Korea who convince authorities to take in two criminals as part of his new "Rehabilitation Project" with the goal of rehabilitating them of their criminal ways. These two criminals are Chang Koehan (Korean: 장거한 Chang Keo-Han, Japanese: チャン・コーハン Chan Kōhan), a giant and violent man who uses an iron ball and chain and Choi Bounge (Korean: 최번개 Choi Beon-Gae, Japanese: チョイ・ボンゲ Choi Bonge), a sadistic little man who uses Freddy Krueger-esque claws.[25] During the Orochi saga, Chang and Choi would become friends and would always attempt at a chance to escape from Kim's grasp during the end of each tournament but fail due to speaking out loud their scheme near Kim.

During the NESTS saga, Jhun Hoon (Korean: 전훈 Jeon Hoon, Japanese: ジョン・フーン Jon Fūn), a childhood friend of Kim and rival, took noticed of Kim's rehabilitation project and after seeing the ethics and methods of training towards Chang and Choi, he decides that he would show Kim a more efficient way of management for the criminals and joins the team as the fourth member for the '99 and 2000 tournaments.[26] In The King of Fighters 2001, the team was set to enter the tournament as usual. However, before the tournament started, Jhun broke his right arm while chasing an image of Athena Asamiya, of whom he is a fan of. Down one member, Kim decides to have May Lee, a perky teenager and a student of Kim who have always admired the team, replace Jhun as the fourth member with the task of keeping an eye of Chang and Choi during the tournament.[27] During the tournament, May Lee surprised the audience and her teammates with her unique taekwondo style and gains much praise. When the tournament ended, the team return home and are celebrated as heroes for ending NESTS (despite not actually winning the tournament nor defeating NESTS themselves).

In The King of Fighters 2003, Choi is requested by Jhun to sit out of that year's tournament to watch over Kim's children, allowing Jhun to take his place with the scheme of showing the world the difference in ability between him and Kim due to the tournament's new “free tag-off Multi-Shift rule.” In The King of Fighters XI, Chang and Choi convince Kim to join the Real Bout Fatal Fury Team with Terry Bogard and Duck King as they want Kim to enjoy himself for once after Kim believes that Chang and Choi are finally “rehabilitated.” Following the tournament, Chang and Choi realize that Kim will be on the look out for more criminals to help rehabilitate. Despite being deem “rehabilitated”, Chang and Choi are still in Kim's custody. In The King of Fighters XIII, Kim summons Raiden, a famous heel professional wrestler and Hwa Jai, a former Muay Thai champion who was defeated and lost his title to Joe Higashi in the past, to Southtown after he believes that they are still employed by Geese Howard, and takes them in as his new students. However, unknown to Kim, Raiden and Hwa has since cut their ties with Geese and have already reform for quite some time. Instead, they trick Kim into thinking that they are still working for Geese and enter the tournament with him as a way help boost their reputations as fighters. Once the tournament ended, Hwa and Raiden pretend to have been "reformed" by Kim, and the gullible Kim falls for it. After parting ways with his new teammates, Kim thinks he might have been "too soft" on Chang and Choi, and to honor his new teammates and the struggles they went through, he intensifies Chang and Choi's strict training much to duo's displeasure.

In The King of Fighters XIV, Chang and Choi are sent to prison after destroying a bar while intoxicated. Upon arrival, the criminals encounter Xanadu, a mysterious, enigmatic, infamous and dangerous criminal who through his eccentric yet mesmerizing charisma, reverts Chang and Choi back to their old criminal ways. Upon the announcement of the new tournament, the trio enter as the Villains Team with the goal of causing chaos and destruction. Meanwhile, Kim has not heard from Chang or Choi and is unaware of their imprisonment. Deciding to go look for them, Kim was about leave the dojo when Gang-Il, Kim's master and chairman of the World Taekwondo Federation, and Luong, a seductive woman who fell in love with Gang-II during his world tour, appear at the dojo's entrance. Though Gang-II and Luong are excited to meet Kim, Kim's bitter memories of his master distracts him from their conversation until Gang-II shows Kim a leaflet, revealing that Chang and Choi are entering the new tournament with a criminal. As Kim decides to enter the tournament to retrieve Chang and Choi from the criminal's control, Gang-II and Luong also decides to enter alongside Kim in the tournament, despite Kim's objections.

Originally, SNK wanted '94 to have a Prisoner Team, formed by Chang Koehan, Choi Bounge, and a third prisoner, but due to various circumstances, they added in Kim instead and made it the Korea Team. Xanadu was created for XIV to fulfilled this concept. Also, during the development for 2001, May Lee's character design stems from sponsor Eolith's desire for a "Korean Athena Asamiya" that was an "idol-like visual fighter."[5]

Kula DiamondEdit

LinEdit

Voiced by: Takaya Kuroda

Lin (Chinese: ; Pinyin: Lín; Japanese: 麟 Rin) is one of the new characters introduced in The King of Fighters 2000 as a member of the Benimaru Team. He, along with the Flying Brigands subplot, was created without the entire staff's knowledge, leading to some developers being surprised by his team's ending.[28]

Though he is no longer an active member in King of Fighters, his story and character have not been abandoned.[29] He is a member of the assassination group, The Flying Brigands—or Hizoku (飛賊, Hizoku) Clan in Japanese—which is apparently on the brink of ruin. The agent Seth entices him to enter the King of Fighters tournament in order to find their clan's missing leader, Ron.[30] After learning that Ron had defected to NESTS for his personal greed, Lin tracks the activities of NESTS' renegades, K′ and his teammates, in hopes of finding his traitorous leader. He joins up with K', Maxima, and Whip in the 2001 tournament. He continues to search for Ron even after NESTS' destruction.[31] For an unexplained reason, he appears next to Ron in the Psycho Soldier Team's ending in The King of Fighters XI.[19] He is a master of the Poison Hand technique, which enables the user to turn their own blood into venom.

MalinEdit

Voiced by: Kazuyo Inosako[12]

Malin (まりん, Marin) is a character who debuts in The King of Fighters 2003 as a member of the High School Girls Team (alongside Athena Asamiya and Hinako Shijou). Her addition to the series was due to Choi's absence in the game where she debuted. The game producers state that her name should be spelled "Malin" and not "Marin", adding that "this is the humble preference of the supervising designer and a mystery to us all".[32]

She becomes a member of the Anti-Kyokugenryu Team in The King of Fighters XI due to her animosity towards one of the style's practitioners, Yuri Sakazaki.[33]

MaximaEdit

Voiced by: Katsuyuki Konishi[12] (Japanese); Michael Jarmus (KOF: MI2, KOF: AD) (English)

Maxima (マキシマ, Makishima) debuts as a member of the Hero Team in The King of Fighters '99. He was added to the cast with the desire to add a "somber and reliable middle-aged character" to counteract the introduction of multiple teenage characters.[11] Both he and his former deceased partner Rocky are inspired by two characters of the same names from the 1991 SNK beat 'em up arcade game Robo Army.

Maxima was a Canadian soldier who led a normal life until he found out that his comrade-in-arms Rocky was killed in an incident involving NESTS.[34] To avenge Rocky's death, he abandons his ordinary life. In order to infiltrate the NESTS cartel without being recognized, Maxima was transformed into a cyborg, with his strength and reaction time increased to superhuman levels, built-in weapons, and the ability to conduct instant data analysis. He also has some degree of cyberpathy. He infiltrates NESTS and is assigned to be the partner of K′. They both defect from the cartel after K' encounters his clone, Krizalid, and grows sickened by the organization. Since then, he has become K's steadfast companion and he is often the one who enters both of them into the following tournaments.

Official Invitation TeamEdit

Voiced by: Mio (Sylvie Paula Paula)
Voiced by: Hiroki Takahashi (Kukri)
Voiced by: AYUKA (Mian)

The Official Invitation Team is composed of characters that Antonov personally invited to participate in his tournament. First appearing in The King of Fighters XIV, the team consists of Sylvie Paula Paula, a remnant of NESTS who wields electromagnetic powers, Kukri, a mysterious fighter from North Africa who utilizes sand-based fighting techniques while hiding his face with a hood at all times, and Mian, a Sichuan opera dancer and fighter. Prior to the tournament, each member lives in the underground society with Mian and Sylvie often taking part in underground tournaments together.

During the end of the final match, Kukri reveals that he is familiar with Verse, especially since half its power lies within Shun'ei. When the tournament ends, Kukri leaves his teammates and Antonov behind and travels to the Carpathian Mountains in the Ukraine where he finds Ash Crimson. Kukri is soon joined by Elisabeth Blanctorche, revealing that she had hired Kukri to enter the tournament to find and rescue Ash whose soul resided inside Verse.

OswaldEdit

Voiced by: Toshihiro Shigetsuka

Oswald (オズワルド, Ozuwarudo) appears in The King of Fighters XI as a member of the game's Hero Team, along with Ash Crimson and Shen Woo. An Irish professional assassin who utilizes a card-based fighting style in attacking his opponents with razor-sharp cards, he was created as an older gentleman, and is an enigma to even the creators. Developers consider his moves to be comical compared to the seriousness of his image, especially when the move "Joker" is blocked or misses. They chose to leave the result of his fight with Shen ambiguous, implying that fans would have been disappointed with the outcome.[35] He was originally intended to be the "good-looking glasses" character for the series.[36]

It is revealed at the end of the tournament that Oswald joins Ash and Shen Woo to obtain money and drugs named Dragon Pills. Ash agrees to give information regarding the drug to Oswald, explaining that it can only be given to him if he defeats the provider's enemy, Shen Woo.[37] Oswald would later make his return as a DLC character in The King of Fighters XIV.[38]

RamonEdit

Voiced by: Eiji Takemoto (KOF 2000KOF XI), Kiyoshi Katsunuma (KOF XIV)

Ramon (ラモン) makes his first appearance in The King of Fighters 2000 as a member of the game's Hero Team. Ramon is the only character to speak Spanish in the game, and was created to appeal to the Latin American fanbase. He has a fighting style primarily based on lucha libre.[39]

Ramon is a famous luchador known as "El Diablo Amarillo" (The Yellow Devil), who is loved by his fans in the wrestling circle. He is approached by an agent named Vanessa, who requests in his cooperation in forming a team for The King of Fighters 2000 tournament. Since then, he has had a one-sided infatuation with Vanessa.[40] After King of Fighters 2000, he continues to team with Vanessa at her request, often along with Seth.

Saisyu KusanagiEdit

Voiced by: Toshimitsu Arai (KOF '95), Keiichirou Sakagi (KOF '98), Haruo Yamagishi (KOF: D onwards)

Saisyu Kusanagi (草薙 柴舟, Kusanagi Saishū) debuted in The King of Fighters '94 as a victim in Rugal's gallery of defeated fighters. He appears as a mid-boss in The King of Fighters '95, and becomes playable for the first time on the screen in The King of Fighters '98, although he was selectable in the console versions of The King of Fighters '95 as a secret character. He was originally meant to have died in The King of Fighters '94, but was added in at the last minute of development for The King of Fighters '95.[41]

Saisyu Kusanagi is the previous head of the Kusanagi clan, who left his family to face worthy opponents across the globe. After his defeat by Rugal, he is brainwashed by his secretary Vice to fight his son, Kyo. Upon his defeat, he regains his senses and escapes from Rugal's missile silo base.[42] In The King of Fighters 2001, he appears before Shingo Yabuki and spends a year properly teaching him the Kusanagi fighting style. In the 2010 live-action film adaptation of The King of Fighters, Saisyu is played by Japanese actor Hiro Kanagawa.

SethEdit

Voiced by: Hidetoshi Nakamura (Japanese); Glenn Haig (KOF: MI2) (English)

Seth (セス, Sesu) makes his first appearance in the series as a "Striker" in The King of Fighters '99 Evolution. He debuts as a playable character in The King of Fighters 2000 as a member of the Benimaru Team. He was created along with Vanessa, though Seth became the visual model for her. Developers wished to have a character with "the powerful image of a big, dark, middle-aged man with a Mohawk haircut".[43]

Seth was ordered by his superior Ling to enter the King of Fighters tournament in order to capture the Flying Brigands leader, Ron. To do this, he arranges to work with the Benimaru Team.[30] During the tournament, he learns that Ling is really Zero in disguise, and that Ron had joined with NESTS. He continues to investigate Ron's activities as the series progresses.[44]

Shen WooEdit

Voiced by: Kōji Suidzu[12]
 
Shen Woo

Shen Woo (シェン・ウー, Shen Ū, Chinese: 神武; pinyin: Shén Wǔ; Shanghainese: Wu Chinese pronunciation: [z̥əɲ˨˧v̥v̩ʷ˦], lit. "Divine Warrior") is one of the members of the Hero Team in The King of Fighters 2003, along with Ash Crimson and Duo Lon. He was first conceptualized to be a "wild and sexy man". Due to his fighting style revolving around punches, designers for his fighting style had to make his attacks distinctive enough to avoid confusion with Ralf and Yashiro.[45]

As "Shanghai's God of War", he was raised in the city of Shanghai in eastern China and given that nickname for developing his own, devastating street-fighting boxing style that is best described as "violent". He soon came to be very feared, and grew to enjoy the thrill of the fight. Eventually, he came to know and befriended both the enigmatic fighter Ash Crimson and the Chinese assassin Duo Lon, with the three of them becoming the "Hero Team" for The King of Fighters 2003 tournament.[46]

At the end of The King of Fighters XI, Ash decides to pit his two teammates against each other by convincing Oswald to defeat Shen Woo for the mention of the "Dragon Pills" made by anonymous pharmacists in Shanghai, telling Oswald that they will only give the Dragon Pills to someone who could defeat their mortal enemy, that is Shen himself.[37] As soon as he and Oswald are left to fight each other, the result is unknown, though he managed to survive the outcome. He is voiced by Kōji Suidzu. Shen Woo is one of the many examples of a sexualized male video game character of the aggressive type.[47]

South America TeamEdit

Voiced by: Kengo Takanashi (Nelson)
Voiced by: Ayumi Fujimura (Zarina)
Voiced by: Eiji Miyashita (Bandeiras)

The South America Team is composed of characters originating from South America. First appearing in The King of Fighters XIV, the team consists of Nelson, a boxer with a robotic prosthetic left arm after losing his arm in a terrible accident, Zarina, a Samba dancer whose fighting style resembles capoeira, and Bandeiras Hattori, an obsessed fanboy of ninjas who trained himself to become one, and the founder of the “Brazilian Ninja Arts Dojo.” Prior to the tournament, Nelson defeated Tizoc in a contest that left him in disgrace, and adopted a heel persona called “King of Dinosaurs.”

Each member had their own reason for entering the tournament. Nelson wants to seize victory in the tournament while hoping that his fiancée Liccia will awake from her coma, Zarina wants to win the prize money to procure land as a nesting place for her pet Coco, a toucan and its species, and Bandeiras hopes that his participation and fighting style will bring in students to his dojo. While the South America Team didn't win, they saw good fortune coming out of the tournament when Liccia awakes from her coma, Zarina convinces Antonov to help procure land for Coco after he already purchased much of the land for one of his businesses (she gleefully admits that she simply kicked him in the crotch instead for his aid), and Bandeiras travels to Japan to advertise his dojo. However, he ends up getting arrested by police for causing a scene. Before seeing Liccia in the hospital, Nelson stops by at his arm's manufacturer for a checkup, completely unaware that the scientists who gave him the cybernetic left arm were responsible for his accident, and are attempting to use him as a test subject for an unknown purpose.

VanessaEdit

Voiced by: Kaori Minami (KOF 2000KOF XI), Mayumi Hata (KOF XIV)

Vanessa (ヴァネッサ, Vanessa) first debuts as a Striker in The King of Fighters '99 Evolution, and becomes playable in The King of Fighters 2000. Like Maxima, she was created as a middle-aged female to contrast the multiple teenage characters in the roster.[10] Vanessa is a normal housewife who discreetly serves as a mercenary agent. Working under the orders of Commander Ling, Vanessa and fellow agent Seth are commissioned with the job of joining Ling's King of Fighters tournament to follow the footsteps of the NESTS cartel. The two agents part from one another, with Vanessa recruiting prime suspects K′, Maxima, and Ramon to complete their team. Her objective from then on is to observe the activities of the NESTS defectors, based on Ling's orders.[48] In The King of Fighters XI, Vanessa enters the tournament together with Blue Mary and Ramon under orders to receive information concerning the broken Orochi seal and the mysterious members of Those From the Past.[49]

The Bernstein familyEdit

Rugal BernsteinEdit

Adelheid and RoseEdit

Voiced by: Tetsuya Tanaka (Adelheid)[12]
Voiced by: Kazuyo Inosako (Rose)[12]

Adelheid (アーデルハイド, Āderuhaido) (Adel for short), along with his younger sister, Rose (ローズ), are the only known children of Rugal Bernstein. They reside in an airship called "Sky Noah". Adel is a boss character from The King of Fighters 2003, as well as a secret and mid-boss for The King of Fighters XI.[50] They were added to the series to create an alternate story to the main plot.[51]

Despite sharing several physical and fighting traits with Rugal, Adelheid is an honorable fighter who exhibits good sportsmanship,[52] even having a friendly conversation with Heidern, Rugal's mortal enemy. Rose, however, was developed to be extremely prideful and selfish, possessing her father's negative traits.[53] In the end of The King of Fighters XI, Rose is manipulated by a member from the mysterious organization Those From the Past to use her in their plans, leading to the events of The King of Fighters XIII and Adelheid calls Heidern for a help to rescue his sister from the organization who brainwashed her.

The Orochi clanEdit

HakkesshuEdit

 
Several members from Hakkeshu. Clockwise from top: Goenitz, Chris, Yashiro Nanakase (center), Vice, Mature and Shermie.

The Hakkesshu (Orochi Hakketsushū (オロチ八傑集) in the Japanese version) are a group formed by the eight most powerful followers of the god Orochi. The four top members are referred to as "Kings".[54] Gaidel, the biological father of Leona, was also a member of the group, but when he refused Goenitz's offer to continue the Orochi's will, Goenitz manipulated Leona into killing Gaidel and the rest of her fellow villagers. The criminal Ryuji Yamazaki is part of the group, but does not want to get involved with them.

Vice & MatureEdit
Voiced by: Masae Yumi (KOF '96KOF XIII), Mayumi Sako (KOF XIV onwards) (Vice)
Voiced by: Hiroko Tsuji (KOF '96KOF XIII), Keiko Tsutsui (KOF XIV), Yū Shimamura (KOF: D onwards) (Mature)

Vice (バイス, Baisu) and Mature (マチュア, Machua) appear as members of Iori's Team in The King of Fighters '96. The designers at the time created both Vice and Mature with the image of a "cruel woman" and a "ruthless woman", respectively. Their origin story is mostly based on the notion of Rugal employing secretaries prior to The King of Fighters '96. Both women were unavailable during location testing and were likely finished near the end of the game's production schedule.[55] Aside from serving Rugal, both women were also spies and wielders of Orochi.[56] They are ordered by their superior Goenitz to keep an eye on Iori, but both of them are killed by Iori.[57]

Since then, both have appeared in the "dream match" games The King of Fighters '98 and The King of Fighters 2002 (games in the King of Fighters series with no canonical connection). Vice has also appeared in Capcom vs. SNK: Millennium Fight 2000 and the sequel. Mature is a playable character in The King of Fighters XII, exclusive to the home console version of game.[58]

With Vice's return in The King of Fighters XIII, Iori's 1996 team is reunited for the first time since The King of Fighters 2002.[59] In The King of Fighters XIII, both women are spirits, reflecting their fates at the end of the 1996 tournament. With the rise of a new Orochi crisis brought on by Ash Crimson's meddling, they convince Iori to enter the new tournament to settle matters and stop whatever it is Ash has in mind.

In the 2010 live-action film adaptation of The King of Fighters movie, Vice is played by Bernice Liu, and Mature by Monique Ganderton.

GoenitzEdit
Voiced by: Yoshinori Shima (KOF '96KOF 2002:UM), Susumu Akagi (KOF: D onwards)

Goenitz (ゲーニッツ, Gēnittsu) is one of the Four Heavenly Kings of Orochi, with the power to command the element of wind. Goenitz has a very polite personality which is reflected in his winning poses and his elegant, somewhat flowery speech. Even though influenced by Orochi, he sports the same messianistic attitude that aspires to bring about "salvation" expected from people of religious occupations.

During the 1996 tournament, Goenitz discovers that Chizuru Kagura plans to gather warriors to seal the Orochi and heads there to stop her. Also, Goenitz is the one who took Rugal's eye which in turn Rugal took Heidern's eye. Depending on the playable characters, Goenitz can be killed by Iori Yagami and Kyo Kusanagi, sealed by Chizuru, or commits suicide at the end of KOF '96.[60]

New Faces Team / Orochi TeamEdit
Voiced by: Rio Ogata (KOF '97KOF 2002:UM), Shiki Aoki (KOFAS), Yuki Sakakibara (KOF for Girls) (Chris)
Voiced by: Hazuki Nishikawa (KOF '97NGH:US), Erina Seto (SNKH:TTF onwards) (Shermie)
Voiced by: Makoto Awane (KOF '97KOF 2002:UM), Hamaoka Keisuke (KOFAS), Megumi Han (Pretty Yashiro; KOFAS), Shinichiro Kamio (KOF for Girls) (Yashiro)

The New Faces Team is a group from The King of Fighters '97. They are three of the Four Heavenly Kings of Orochi. The group is composed of a young Swedish boy named Chris (クリス, Kurisu), a beautiful but shady Frenchwoman named Shermie (シェルミー, Sherumī) and a 1.90 m (6 ft 3 in) tall Japanese guitar player named Yashiro Nanakase (七枷 社, Nanakase Yashiro). They initially enter due to Yashiro's grudge against Iori and his own band (which had overshadowed a performance of theirs before the tournament), but as the tournament progresses, the Orochi blood inside their bodies soon awakens, causing them to remember their status as three of the Four Heavenly Kings. As loyal members of Orochi, they continue to gather power for the awakening until they are forced to kill themselves in order to resurrect Orochi through Chris' body, a concept that began early in the game's production.[61] Using the Orochi power, they are stated as the Japan Team's counterparts, since they have their same abilities: Chris is able create flames like Kyo Kusanagi, Shermie creates lightning like Benimaru Nikaido, and Yashiro has enormous strength enough to shatter the earth like Goro Daimon.

OrochiEdit

Voiced by: Rio Ogata (KOF '97NGH:US), Motoko Kumai (drama CD's), Shiki Aoki (KOFAS)

Orochi (オロチ, Orochi) is the final boss of The King of Fighters '97, and can be considered the main antagonist of the series as most villains serve him or wants to use his powers for their own ends. Its character origin is another interpretation of the mythical eight-headed serpent, Yamata no Orochi. In The King of Fighters series, it is a chthonic supernatural being that is the will of Gaia. It has no distinct gender. It does not regard humanity as trustworthy with regard to coexisting with the planet without ravaging it, and so seeks to extinguish humanity. It was sealed 1,800 years ago by the three sacred treasures of Japan. The three clans' descendants are charged with protecting the seal. In The King of Fighters '97, it incarnates in Chris (a herald of Orochi) to save the Gaia.[62]

It is sealed again at the end of the '97 tournament by the three descendants of the users of the three sacred treasures (Kyo, Chizuru and Iori), but the seal is broken (though not to the point of actually releasing it) in later games by the demon Mukai.[13][63] A clone of Orochi appears as a boss in NeoGeo Battle Coliseum named Mizuchi.

In King of Fighters XIV, Orochi is one of the many souls inside Verse as shown through Verse's win quote against Kyo and in the ending of Team Yagami, as it lands in Aggtelek-Karst in Hungary, before being sealed away again due to being in still weakened state.

The NESTS cartelEdit

NESTS is a mysterious and dangerous cartel that deals with drugs, weaponry, robotics, genetics and biotechnology. The global crime syndicate was involved in the events behind the King of Fighters tournaments held between 1999 and 2001. They are responsible for the creation of the Kyo Kusanagi clones and K′. The group is composed of several agents who have different aims, but they all want to become more powerful. The cartel is destroyed with the death of their leader Igniz.

KrizalidEdit

Voiced by: Yoshiyuki Iwamoto (KOF '99, KOF 2002 UM), Eiji Yano (KOF 2001), Masahito Kawanago (KOFAS)

Krizalid (クリザリッド, Kurizariddo) acts as the mid and final boss of The King of Fighters '99. He was designed to be a stylish and earnestly strong boss, though the supervising designer at the time admits, "I think I overdid it a little."[64]

He is made to be the ultimate Kyo clone, outfitted with a special suit to feed the data of fighters into his body during battle. He also happens to be a clone of K′. As a side effect, he gained some of K's memories and believed that Whip was his sister. He is ordered to activate the thousands of Kyo clones around the world so that they can attack in a simultaneous strike. After his defeat against K', his superior, Zero, neutralizes the Kyo clones and kills Krizalid by throwing a boulder to crush him. He is cloned later by the original Zero and fights alongside him in the 2001 tournament.

In The King of Fighters XIV he is one of the souls inside Verse.

RonEdit

Voiced by: Takaya Kuroda

Ron (Chinese: ; Pinyin: Lóng; Japanese: 龍(ロン) Ron) is first introduced as a sub-plot character in The King of Fighters 2000. He later appears as a Striker for Zero in The King of Fighters 2001. Though he is not playable in the series, he serves as an important side-story character.

According to his official profile, his main objective is to gain the ability to manipulate the dead.[29] He is the former leader to an elite assassination group known as the Flying Brigands—Hizoku (飛賊, Hizoku) Clan in Japanese—and the father to a number of their members, including Duo Lon and Xiao Lon. He betrayed the Flying Brigands by joining NESTS for personal gain, labeling himself as a traitor by many of the group's members, including Lin, his former pupil. After NESTS' destruction, he reveals his great interest in a mysterious power shared by Sie Kensou and Bao known as the Dragon Spirit.

ZeroEdit

Voiced by: Kinta Futogane (KOF 2001KOF 2002:UM) (Clone)
Voiced by: Toshimitsu Arai (KOF 2001KOF 2002:UM), Kaya Okuno (Pretty Zero; KOFAS) (both)
Voiced by: Taiten Kusunoki (KOFAS) (both)

Zero (ゼロ) is one of the higher-ranked agents of NESTS. The designer, C.A.C. Yamasaki, admits basing Zero off a certain character from the manga Fist of the North Star.[65] Zero begins to secretly build his own weapon from NESTS' technology called the "Zero Cannon". He sets his plans into motion in The King of Fighters 2000. There, he impersonates a military commander named Ling and uses his persona as a decoy to stop the military resistance against him. Depending on whether or not the player defeats Kula, his plans are foiled by either Heidern or Kula, who is sent to execute him for his treacherous acts.

However, the Zero in The King of Fighters 2000 is revealed to be a clone from the Original Zero (ゼロ(オリジナル), Zero (Orijinaru)), who appears as a sub-boss in The King of Fighters 2001. He was created because the supervising designer of his character claimed to be dissatisfied with Zero's design in 2000.[66] Unlike his clone, Zero is extremely loyal to the NESTS syndicate, and was disgusted to learn of his clone's attempted coup d'état. Willing to clear the reputation of his clone's actions, Zero is commanded to destroy the winners of The King of Fighters tournament. He traps the winning team in a space ship that was disguised as a blimp. When he is defeated, he urges the team to escape the collapsing ship and dies honorably on board the vessel.

NESTS TeamEdit

The NESTS Team is a group that appears in The King of Fighters 2001, entering in the tournament to eliminate anybody who would try to destroy their organization. The team is composed of Kula Diamond, named the "Anti-K" due to her ability of creating ice, Kula's guardian Foxy (フォクシー, Fokushī): an expert fencer who works alongside with Kula's second guardian and another expert fencer named Diana, Angel: a ditzy yet deadly Mexican female fighter, and K9999 (pronounced K Four-Nine), a clone from Kyo entirely based on Tetsuo Shima from Akira, able to transform his arm into a long tentacle like Tetsuo's. Due to copyright issues, for The King of Fighters 2002: Unlimited Match remake, he was replaced with a similar character. The character is called "Nameless", a clone from both Kyo and K' (whose hair, reflecting this, is half brown like that of Kyo, and half white like that of K') who uses two types of flames to fight.[67]

When their boss Zero dies from his battle upon the blimp that takes the winning team to the headquarters of NESTS, Kula and Foxy decide to leave NESTS in order to begin a new life, but the two are attacked upon sight by their teammates, who consider them traitors. K9999 and Angel mortally injure Foxy in the fight, and waste no time in attacking Kula, but when they are about to defeat her, she is rescued by K′, whose abilities make the attackers flee in an instant. Both K9999 and Angel haven't been heard from since. After the destruction of NESTS, Kula, Foxy, and Diana decide to work together with K′, Maxima, and Whip, leading to Kula joining forces with K' and Maxima in King of Fighters XI after Whip returns to the Ikari Warriors team. Angel returns in The King of Fighters XIV as part of the Mexican lucha libre team which also includes Ramon (who ironically was one of the agents seeking to shut down NESTS) and Tizoc (now fighting under the persona "King of Dinosaurs"), and Antonov hires a new fighter, Sylvie Paula Paula (シルヴィ・ポーラ・ポーラ, Shiruvi Pōra Pōra), a "cute-looking psycho" who was an agent of the now-defunct NESTS cartel who can freely manipulate electricity, who in actuality is a failed NESTS experiment that considers the voice in her head and her eyeball decorations to be her "friends".

IgnizEdit

Voiced by: Norio Wakamoto (KOF 2001KOF 2002:UM), Masafumi Kimura (KOFAS)

Igniz (イグニス, Igunisu) is the final boss in The King of Fighters 2001. His handsome and youthful appearance was specifically created at the sponsors' request.[68]

Igniz became the leader of NESTS after he killed his father years ago. After the events of the '99 and 2000 tournaments, Igniz decides to host the King of Fighters 2001 tournament in hopes of becoming a new god, deciding to test his newly acquired power against the finalists. His hopes are short-lived, however, as he is defeated by the K' Team. Cursing his failure and declaring himself a demon instead, Igniz attempts to destroy the planet by plummeting NESTS' main headquarters out of orbit; his attempt fails, and Igniz dies in the process.

In King of Fighters XIV, Igniz is one of the souls inside Verse.

Those From The PastEdit

Those From the Past (遙けし彼の地より出る者たち, Harukeshi Ka no Chi yori Izuru Monotachi, lit. "Those From His Distant Land") are a new group of antagonists that appear in the 2003 tournament. They are mysterious, and supposedly inhuman, warriors who want to get the power of the Orochi so that they can give it to their shrouded master. It is implied that they are the European counterparts of the Orochi Clan. The organization is destroyed after Saiki's death by Ash in The King of Fighters XIII, but their actions triggered the birth of Verse.

MukaiEdit

Voiced by: Toshihiro Shigetsuka[12]

Mukai (ムカイ, also written as 無界) is the hidden final boss in The King of Fighters 2003. His appearance was designed with the concept of petrification in mind. Mukai's primary power is his control over many things related to stone. He can form stone, either in crude rocks to throw at foes, or as elaborate pillars to crush them. He speaks in very pious, grandiose declarations, but appears to have a cautious attitude toward the potential of humans.

He makes a prompt appearance in The King of Fighters 2003 tournament seeking strong opponents and to test his strength. Mukai reveals that his group had organized the 2003 King of Fighters tournament so that they could break the Orochi seal and give its power to the group's unknown leader. Mukai wanted to battle against the winning team of the tournament, seeing if they had what it takes to survive in "the new age". Mukai is defeated but manages to escape. However, in The King of Fighters XIII he is killed by Saiki after disobeying his boss.

ShionEdit

Voiced by: Tokiyo Ogawa

Shion (紫苑, Shion) makes his first appearance in The King of Fighters XI as the sub-boss. The character was conceptually designed to be one of Ron's daughters,[69] though developers decided to change his gender to startle and appeal to fans with his androgynous appearance.[70] Shion is an enigmatic character whose past is unknown. He works as an underling for the demon Magaki, and seems knowledgeable about the workings of Orochi. After being defeated at the ruins of the tournament finals, he is dragged through an extradimensional gate. However, after Magaki is defeated at the end of the tournament, Shion kills him and his whereabouts remain unknown. In King of Fighters XIII, as the last cutscene, the head of Shion's spear appears. The cutscene is named The Crimson Spear. It is shown that he's still alive as he appeared before Shroom and Rimelo.

MagakiEdit

Voiced by: Spicy Yagi

Magaki (禍忌) is the new boss of The King of Fighters XI. Nothing is known about the fighter Magaki, except that he hosts The King of Fighters tournament. Like his partner Mukai, Magaki wants to awake Orochi and give Orochi's powers to his own master. He also shows even less respect for humans in general, believing them to have little-to-no potential, and being weak overall. He also seems to have very little tolerance for not getting what he wants from others. Like Mukai before him, after he was defeated he stood up, apparently unscathed, and made his exit into another realm after commenting that perhaps it was more than spirit that was needed to awaken Orochi. However, as he finally realizes the error in his plan, he is killed by Shion's spear, hurled from the dimensional rift he was escaping from.

SaikiEdit

Voiced by: Sōnosuke Nagashiro

Saiki (斎祀) is the sub-boss as well as the main antagonist of The King of Fighters XIII. He is able to control the flow of time due to a gate that can halt the timeline so long as it is open. During cutscenes in the game, he takes the appearance of a human, very similar to Ash Crimson. Before the battle with Saiki in KOF XIII, Saiki drains fellow One From the Past Mukai of his power and transforms into a red demonic being. After the battle with Saiki, Ash Crimson takes his power, seemingly killing him. This plan backfires as Ash ends up being possessed by Saiki and turns into a shadowed version of himself called Evil Ash (known by fans as Dark Ash) to act as the game's final boss. During the ending, Saiki is defeated, but tries to use the time barrier to rewind time again and try his plot once more; Ash stands in his way and prevents his passage. When the gate closes, Saiki is finally defeated, but it is learned that he is Ash's ancestor. By denying Saiki passage into the past, Ash forces his own existence being Saiki's descendant to cease, leaving his soul survived to exist without being Saiki's descendant but trapped in time and contained inside one of the two creatures Ash created from his cause known as Verse.

VerseEdit

Voiced by: Yusaku

Verse (バース, Bāsu) is the main antagonist and final boss in The King of Fighters XIV. An evil presence that is sensed across time and space, various fighters from the tournament join to stop him. Within his being, he traps the souls of fighters from the past tournaments such as Orochi and Ash Crimson along with Gaidel, Igniz, Krizalid, and Rugal Bernstein as well as Mizuki Rashojin. His existence was the result of Ash's doing on changing his timeline to erase himself from being Saiki's descendants and kills his ancestor, which is the reason why Nakoruru travels to the present to fix the timeline. Not only that, one of Verse's fragment is also implanted inside the young Shun'ei, leaving his parents to abandon him secretly due to this, but was rescued by Tung Fu Rue and raised him as his last disciple.

Characters from other SNK gamesEdit

Another World TeamEdit

Voiced by: Mai Nakahara (Nakoruru)
Voiced by: Namiko Otsu (Mui Mui)
Voiced by: Toa Yukinari (Love Heart)

The Another World Team is composed of characters who appeared in other SNK games outside of The King of Fighters universe. First appearing in The King of Fighters XIV, the team consists of Nakoruru, an Ainu miko who fights alongside her pet hawk Mamahaha and is from Samurai Shodown, Mui Mui, the last successor of her clan and a master of Kung Fu from Dragon Gal, and Love Heart, the captain of the Peace Pirates from Sky Love.

In her world, Nakoruru senses a terrible entity emerging after a crack in the spacetime continuum. With the source coming from another universe, Nakoruru transports herself into the present universe with the goal of preventing the disaster and finding its true source. Shortly after arriving at the present universe, Nakoruru encounters Love Heart, who was transported by the same entity unwillingly, and agrees to help investigate the phenomenon. During their investigation, the duo meets Mui Mui, who transported herself to the present universe willing in search for gems filled with mysterious powers, and joins them. Upon the announcement of the new tournament, the trio decides to enter in hopes of finding the source. During the finals, the source was revealed to be Verse. Following Verse's defeat and the end of the tournament, the team travels to Russia where Nakoruru believes that Verse may return one day, but is unsure when the entity will come back. While Love Heart and Mui Mui are ready to return to their own worlds, Nakoruru instead decides to stay in the present universe to visit modern day Hokkaido and China, inviting her teammates to travel with her. While Mui Mui agrees with the idea, unfortunately for Love Heart, she is drag along by her teammates much to her annoyance.

Art of Fighting TeamEdit

Voiced by: Masaki Usui (KOF '94-XI, XIII), Masayoshi Kozaki (KOF XII), Daiki Takakura (KOF XIV) (Ryo)
Voiced by: Kay Inage (KOF '94-'95, XI-XIII), Mantarō Koichi (KOF '96-2003), Go Shinomiya (KOF XIV) (Robert)
Voiced by: Eiji Tsuda (Takuma)
Voiced by: Kaori Horie (KOF '94-XIII), Ai Kakuma (KOF XIV) (Yuri)

The Art of Fighting Team, originally the Mexico Team, is composed of characters originating from the video game series with the same name, and are mostly practitioners of Kyokugenryu Karate (also known as Kyokugen), a fighting style created by the Sakazaki family. First appearing in The King of Fighters '94, the original team consisted of Ryo Sakazaki, the heir to Kyokugenryu Karate, Robert Garcia, a wealthy practitioner who is Ryo's best friend and rival, and Takuma Sakazaki, Ryo's father and the founder of Kyokugenryu Karate who trains the students at the dojo, and Ryo and Robert's master. After The King of Fighters '95, Takuma decides to retire from competing due to his age catching up with him which leads to Robert suggesting that Yuri Sakazaki, Takuma's daughter, Ryo's sister, and Robert's love interest, becomes his replacement for the next tournament. Beginning with The King of Fighters '96, Yuri becomes the third member of the team for the remainder of the Orochi Saga.

During the NESTS Saga, Takuma comes out of retirement and joins the team as the fourth member in The King of Fighters '99. In The King of Fighters 2000, Yuri wanted to show her independence by joining the Women Team that year by begging King, a French Muay Thai fighter who has a history with the Sakazaki family in the past, to be her replacement. While Ryo and Takuma welcomed the idea, Robert disagreed and challenged King to a kicking contest to prove herself. Although the contest ended in a tie, Robert was impressed with King's kicking ability that he agreed to let King join the team. In The King of Fighters 2001, Robert and his father Alberto Garcia are facing a takeover in their company, the Garcia Foundation, after they and the rest of the world suffers from a financial crisis due to NESTS’ increased activities after the last tournament. After pleading to the Sakazaki family to enter the tournament to win the prize money, they agreed to help Robert and his family (in reality, Takuma wanted to win the prize money for himself to help with the family's dojo).

Despite not winning the 2001 tournament, the financial crisis that Robert and his father faced seem to have been resolved as by The King of Fighters 2003, Robert is joyfully wealthy again and enters the tournament with Ryo and Yuri. When the team returns home from the tournament, they found Takuma laying facedown on the dojo floor, apparently after being assaulted by an unseen assailant. Takuma tries to tell them who attacked him, but passes out, and is taken away in an ambulance. In The King of Fighters XI, it is revealed that Takuma was not attacked by an assailant but actually, he collapsed due to malnutrition, liver problems, and other health issues. He uses the incident as an excuse to fulfill his wishes for a grandchild by asking King to enter the tournament with Ryo and Yuri, and be his replacement since Robert cannot enter because of a disaster that took place at his father's company that his presence is required for the issue to be resolved. In The King of Fighters XIII, the Sakazakis get into a family argument after Yuri cuts her hair which Takuma and Ryo disapproves of. When Robert tells Yuri that her family wants her to quit her training (more so, to stop entering King of Fighters tournaments and fighting overall to prevent serious injury to herself), Yuri decides to enter the tournament with King and Mai Shiranui to show her independence once again, and to show her family how much her Kyokugen has improved. When Takuma (who has made a full recovery) finds out that Yuri is entering the tournament with another team, he, Ryo, and Robert, who now has enough free time away from his father's company, enter the tournament. When the tournament ends, the team, alongside Yuri and King, are being interviewed by the media that Robert pulls out an engagement ring while Yuri is answering questions. Takuma takes notice of the ring and Robert's intentions that he hits Robert from behind, which leads to the two men hitting each other without notice while Yuri embarrasses King by telling reporters that she wishes King becomes a part of the family. Ryo then proclaims that teamwork is the key to Kyokugen's success.

In The King of Fighters XIV, the team have since opened up their own restaurant called “Kyokugen BBQ” with the help of Richard Meyer. In addition to entering the tournament as usual to attract new students, the team plans on promoting their new restaurant. After returning home from the tournament, the team throws a private party to themselves where Ryo becomes displeased with Robert and his family's attitude regarding their training, and are more focused on improving the restaurant that he is determined to leave South Town, alongside with his student Khushnood Butt.

Fatal Fury TeamEdit

The "Fatal Fury Team" is composed of characters originating from the video game series with the same name. First appearing in The King of Fighters '94 as the Italy Team, the original group consisted of Terry Bogard, an American fighter who sought to defeat the evil crime lord Geese Howard in order to avenge the death of his father Jeff Bogard; Andy Bogard, the younger brother of Terry who uses the Shiranui fighting style; and Joe Higashi, a Muay Thai fighter and mutual friend of Terry and Andy. In The King of Fighters '99, Mai Shiranui, a Shiranui kunoichi, and love interest of Andy, joins the team as during this time, teams are now composed of four fighters. Blue Mary, a female agent and love interest of Terry, and decides to help her out in her job by teaming up with her in the 2000 and 2001 editions of the King of Fighters tournaments.

In The King of Fighters 2003, Terry and Joe entered the tournament with Tizoc, a famous Mexican professional wrestler as Andy took care of his Shiranui disciple Hokutomaru who fell sick with the mumps. In The King of Fighters XI, Terry organize a new Fatal Fury team with Duck King and Kim Kaphwan. In The King of Fighters XIII, Terry wanted to catch up and reunite the Fatal Fury team with Andy and Joe once again. Before their meeting, he endures a long journey back to the city and fell asleep at the station. In The King of Fighters XIV, Terry, Andy, and Joe enter the tournament-

Garou TeamEdit

The Garou Team appears only in KOF XI, containing characters that appear in the video game Garou: Mark of the Wolves. The team includes Tizoc, a famous pro wrestler, Gato, a powerful martial artist and a female pirate named B. Jenet. Though the members become good friends, Gato decides to leave them after the end of the tournament.

Geese Howard's teamsEdit

The villain known as Geese Howard creates several teams in the series. In King of Fighters '95, he sends his right-hand man Billy Kane to kill his enemies, the Bogard brothers. Billy allies with Iori Yagami and Eiji Kisaragi to form a Rival Team in the tournament, but once they fail to obtain the victory, Iori brutally attacks them and nearly kills Billy and Eiji in the process.

In The King of Fighters '96, Geese creates the Boss Team, including Wolfgang Krauser, Mr. Big and Geese himself. Geese uses both Krauser and Big as pawns in the tournament, hoping to get the power from the Orochi being, while Krauser only wants to prove their strength, and Mr. Big uses this opportunity to seek out a chance to usurp Geese's empire unbeknownst to him.

As the group disbanded at the end of King of Fighters '96, Geese sponsors a new group known as the Outlaw Team in the '97 and 2003 tournaments for the same purpose. The team for the '97 tournament is made up of Billy Kane, Blue Mary and Ryuji Yamazaki, though Blue Mary is replaced by Gato in the 2003 tournament.

Geese eventually returns to the tournament in The King of Fighters XIV, hiring his right-hand man Billy Kane and his butler Hein to join him under Billy's request.

Ikari Warriors TeamEdit

The Ikari Warriors Team is a group of mercenaries that enters in each tournament in the series in order to find well-known criminals and capture them. The leader Heidern (ハイデルン, Haiderun) established the team in order find the criminal Rugal Bernstein, in order that Heidern could get his revenge against Rugal (who killed Heidern's wife Sandra and their daughter Clara). The other two recurring members of the team are the soldiers Ralf Jones and Clark Still, who were originally the player characters in Ikari Warriors and its sequels.[1]

Leona (レオナ, Reona), Heidern's adopted daughter introduced in The King of Fighters '96, replaces him as he takes on a more active role behind the scenes, investigating occurrences parallel to the tournament. Although she tends to be very quiet, Leona was conceived to be an Orochi descendant at the time of her debut, and her designers took special care to let their interests at the time reflect in her actions.[71] Her official nickname is The Silent Soldier. Although she recovers from her childhood trauma at the end of King of Fighters '97, she leaves the team after attacking her friends in the Riot of the Blood state at the conclusion of King of Fighters 2003 and tries to regain her focus from within her personal time.

Whip (ウィップ, Wippu) appears in The King of Fighters '99 as the new member to the Ikari Team. She is a clone of K′s sister[72] and once worked for NESTS as an assassin. She is eventually assigned to Heidern's mercenary unit for The King of Fighters tournament to investigate NESTS and the mysterious fighter known only as K'.[73] Once she realizes who K' is, she reveals their relation to him and joins him in his objective to destroy the NESTS cartel. After NESTS' downfall, she returns to her duties under Heidern's command. One of her moves depicts her shooting her opponents with a Desert Eagle-like handgun. The firearm is edited from the American release of the games in arcades, but is uncensored in the home release versions.[74]

Leona, Ralf, and Clark compose the Ikari Team for The King of Fighters XIII, reflecting the team's roster from the 1996 tournament. Despite her difficulties in controlling herself leading her to sit out the XI tournament as Whip took her place, Leona commits herself to entering the XIII tournament, deciding to accept, and deal with, her Orochi blood.

Psycho Soldier TeamEdit

The Psycho Soldier Team specializes in using psychic powers—dubbed "Psycho Powers" by SNK. The powers, and some members of the team, first appeared in the SNK video game Psycho Soldier.[75] The team includes Chin Gentsai (鎮元斎, ch: Zhèn Yuánzhāi; ja: Chin Gensai), an elderly mentor and master of Psycho Power. He participates with his students throughout the tournaments since 1994, but leaves the competition in 2003 to observe thoroughly the matter of Orochi's possible resurgence, asking K′ and Maxima to investigate the tournament in his place for activity, meaning both Kensou and Chin are replaced with Hinako and Malin.[76]

The others members of the team are his students Athena Asamiya, a famous Japanese pop singer; a Chinese teenager infatuated with Athena named Sie Kensou (椎 拳崇, ch: Chuí Quánchóng; ja: Shī Kensū); and a little Chinese boy named Bao (, ch: Bāo; ja: Pao). As Bao trains with them during the time between King of Fighters '97 and King of Fighters '99, Kensou gradually loses his powers, until they become obsolete.[77] However, his powers are recovered in King of Fighters XI, causing Ron and Misty to take an interest in it, revealing a probable importance of the Dragon Spirit.

A young girl who trained with Kensou and Athena, Momoko (桃子), also debuts in the team in The King of Fighters XI. She was added into the cast to fit the image of the younger Psycho Soldier team, though the developers have expressed discomfort with adding so young a character amongst a large group of adults. In addition, Momoko's discipline is capoeira, rather than Chinese Martial Arts like her teammates. Chin and Kensou make their latest appearances in The King of Fighters XII; in The King of Fighters XIII, the Psycho Soldier team is re-formed and represented by the original members.

Women Fighters TeamEdit

The Women Fighters Team is a group composed exclusively of women, christened "The Princesses of Punch." The team originally comprises the Kyokugen karate prodigy Yuri Sakazaki, the ninja Mai Shiranui, and the Muay Thai fighter King. Throughout the later games of the series, there are several changes in the members of the team, as Yuri is sometimes called to join the Art of Fighting team, leading her to be replaced by the heir of the ancient Yata clan Chizuru Kagura and Kasumi Todoh—a young female martial artist who seeks to defeat those who practice Kyokugen karate. In later games, new characters appear, due to the new rule of using four members; these include the agent Blue Mary, the Chinese-American female martial artist Li Xiangfei and the sumo fighter Hinako Shijou (四条 雛子, Shijō Hinako). In 2003, the Women Fighters Team has a subdivision with high school girls as the members, hence the reason it is named the High School Girls Team (also known as the New Psycho Soldier Team). This team is led by Athena Asamiya, and the two other members are Hinako and Malin. In XI, the team is dissolved, since the members go to other teams or they have other things to do[clarification needed]. The Women Fighters Team is reformed for The King of Fighters XIII, featuring the three original members from the 1994 tournament. In XIV, the team returns with Mai and King getting a new member named Alice, an avid fan of Terry Bogard who inspires to be just like him.

ReceptionEdit

The characters from The King of Fighters series were said to be a varied cast by Eurogamer magazine, since the cast includes characters from other SNK games.[78] IGN agreed, commenting that every character has their own unique moves and praising their visuals, even though the magazine mentioned that the characters have old two-dimensional designs. IGN criticized that learning the characters' special moves was difficult.[79] In reviews for the first game, IGN praised the main character Kyo Kusanagi as one of the most enjoyable characters to play, remarking on his dynamism and movesets.[80] GameSpot also praised the characters designs, saying they "shine through, resulting in a cast of characters that's diverse and not plentiful".[81] In other reviews, they complained about the lack of improvements in the character's movesets in some games, and also mentioned that some techniques were simply removed. They noted that, while new characters introduced in some games are interesting, they do not have the same impact as other ones.[82]

1UP.com labelled the characters from the series as one of SNK's best creations, claiming that their appearances and quotations are all "cool"—although they commented some of the storylines are "nonsense".[83] The boss characters were criticized by multiple reviewers for being too difficult to defeat,[84] with Krizalid from The King of Fighters '99 being singled out as too powerful.[82]

The character designs in Maximum Impact were praised by IGN, which noted that the conversion to three-dimensional modeling had "extremely vibrant" characters with "a decent amount of detail." However, they disliked the lack of blood, especially during violent attacks, saying the super moves and combos were "just not as spectactular here" as they were in previous installments. IGN sharply criticized the "terribly bad voice acting", calling it "truly piss-poor American dub work."[85] Gamezone added that some characters still remain their unique fighting style, but complained about the lack of individualized endings, and commented that some of the attacks have less style in 3D.[86] GameSpot also added that the English voices weren't distinctive, but commented that their new outfits were "pretty wild". The characters, however, were "just not done with the same pixel-perfect flair" as the 2D versions, they said, noting that "you'll recognize [the characters] because of their clothes and special moves, not because of their faces."[87]

Action figures,[88][89] puzzles,[90] keychains, and pins[91] have been produced based on the characters in the King of Fighters series. Many characters are also featured on posters, wallpapers, and trading cards.[92][93]

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  91. ^ "King of Fighters Pin Set". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2008-07-29.
  92. ^ "Universal Fighting System (UFS) Card Game Samurai Showdown & King of Fighters Booster Pack". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2008-09-02.
  93. ^ "UFS SNK Cutting Edge Booster". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2008-09-02.

External linksEdit