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The King of Fighters 2002: Challenge to Ultimate Battle (KOF '02) is a fighting game produced by Eolith and Playmore for the Neo Geo in 2002. It is the ninth game in The King of Fighters series and the second one to be produced by Eolith and developed by Playmore (formerly Brezzasoft). The game was ported to the Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, and the Xbox, wherein the PS2 and Xbox versions were released in North America in a two-in-one bundle with the following game in the series, The King of Fighters 2003.

The King of Fighters 2002
The King of Fighters 2002 (cover).jpg
Cover artwork for the Neo Geo version featuring K'.
Artist(s)Nona (Challenge to Ultimate Battle)
Hiroaki Hashimoto (Unlimited Match)
Composer(s)Papaya (Masahiko Hataya)
SeriesThe King of Fighters
Microsoft Windows
Neo Geo
PlayStation 2
PlayStation Network
  • WW: October 10, 2002
Neo Geo
  • JP: December 18, 2002
  • NA: December 18, 2002
  • JP: June 19, 2003
PlayStation 2
  • JP: March 25, 2004
  • EU: October 7, 2005
Unlimited Match:
  • JP: February 26, 2009
  • JP: March 24, 2005
  • WW: February 27, 2015
PlayStation Network
  • JP: May 20, 2015
OS X and Linux
  • WW: December 15, 2015
Genre(s)Fighting game
Mode(s)Up to 2 players simultaneously
Arcade systemNeo Geo
SoundYamaha YM2610 (Challenge to Ultimate Battle)

SNK Playmore produced a remake titled The King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match for the PlayStation 2, which was released on February 26, 2009 in Japan, and the game later received its first worldwide release on Xbox Live Arcade on November 3, 2010.[1][2] A port of the Xbox Live Arcade release was late released on Steam on February 27, 2015.


Angel is using her "Reppun Kamui" attack against Billy Kane

King of Fighters 2002 discarded the 4-on-4 "Striker Match" format used in the previous three games in the series and returned to the 3-on-3 Battle format originally used in the series up until KOF '98.

The game also revamped the Power Gauge system into a format similar to the one used in King of Fighters '97. Like the previous games in the series, the Power Gauge was filled as the player attacked the opponent or performed Special Moves during a battle. The number of Power Gauges the player could stock up is increased by one with each member of the team. For example, the first member of the team could stock up to three Power Gauges, while the third member could stock up to five. A single Power Gauge stock could be used to either perform a Counterattack and Evasion technique while guarding an opponent's attack, use a Super Special Move, or initiate the MAX Activation state. The same case also applies to the 1-on-1 format, where the Power Gauge the player could stock up is also increased by one with each round loss. For example, on the first round, the player could stock up to three Power Gauges, while losing two rounds allows the player to stock up to five.

During MAX Activation, the player's offensive and defensive strength is increased for a short period and could cancel any attack into another player. In this state, a Super Special Move could be used without consuming a Power Gauge stock. There are also MAX Super Special Moves, which are Super moves that could only be performed during MAX Activation with one Power Gauge stock, and MAX2 moves that require two stocks while low on health.


Just like King of Fighters '98, the game had no storyline since the NESTS story arc had already concluded in the previous game, The King of Fighters 2001. Instead, a "Dream Match" was included featuring characters from all the previous games in the series. In addition to the recurring teams from the series including the original Japan Team, the game also featured a series of teams representing each of the previous game series from The King of Fighters '96 to King of Fighters 2001. Omega Rugal returned as the final boss as well. However, not all the characters from the previous games were featured, and series' regulars such as King and Shingo Yabuki were absent from the Neo Geo version for the first time since their first appearance. The Dreamcast version of the game, nevertheless, featured King and Shingo, while three additional characters from SVC Chaos: SNK vs. Capcom namely Geese Howard, Goenitz, and Orochi Iori, were added with them in the PlayStation 2 and Xbox versions. A number of the characters had been redrawn, most notably the King of Fighters '98 Team.

Japan Team

Fatal Fury Team

Art of Fighting Team

Ikari Team

Psycho Soldier Team

Women Fighters Team

Korea Team

Yagami Team (KOF '96 Team)

Outlaw Team (KOF '97 Team)

New Faces Team (KOF '98 Team)

  • Yashiro Nanakase
  • Shermie
  • Chris

Orochi Team

  • Orochi Yashiro
  • Orochi Shermie
  • Orochi Chris

K' Team (KOF '99 Team)

Agent Team (KOF 2000 Team)

NESTS Team (KOF 2001 Team)



Console exclusives

  • Shingo Yabuki (Dreamcast, PS2, Xbox versions)
  • King (Dreamcast, PS2, Xbox versions)
  • Geese Howard (PS2, Xbox versions)
  • Goenitz (PS2, Xbox versions)
  • Orochi Iori (PS2, Xbox versions)

Unlimited MatchEdit

The Unlimited Match version of the game was released on February 26, 2009 for the PlayStation 2 in Japan and on November 3, 2010 for Xbox Live Arcade and on February 27, 2015 for Steam on the PC. New features have been added, such as the new stages and artwork. In addition, additional characters have been added as well as the changes to the team roster with the number of default teams increased to 18 including the regular and alternate versions of the Orochi Team. Moreover, all of the characters featured in the series between The King of Fighters '99 and King of Fighters 2002 were included with the exception of K9999, which is a character conceived as a pastiche of Tetsuo Shima from the manga Akira. Instead, a new character called Nameless (ネームレス) was designed to take his place in the game and featured most of K9999's special techniques with an added touch.

The game has 66 characters in total, making it the series' largest roster.[3] There are 44 from King of Fighters 2002, 16 characters from the NESTS arc including King and Shingo, and 6 hidden characters, including additional characters from the previous console versions with the exception of Orochi Iori. The game also has the original King of Fighters 2002 port from the Neo Geo to play.[4]


During its release week, the game sold 19,000 copies in Japan.[5] In Issue 114 from Arcadia, the game was featured at ninth in its Top Ten Video Games list.[6] Critical reception to the game was positive due to its large number of playable characters, although mixed opinions were given to its aging graphics.[7][8] In addition, despite lacking a plot, the large interaction between characters was praised for adding depth to the game.[9]


  1. ^ "Official The King of Fighters 2002 Ultimate Match page". 2010-11-03.
  2. ^ Gantayat, Anoop. "SNK Playmore Details Xbox Live Arcade Plans". andriasang. Archived from the original on December 13, 2009. Retrieved December 7, 2009. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  3. ^ Feit, Daniel (2011-10-15). "King of Fighters 2002 Ultimate Match Coming to XBLA on November 3rd". Archived from the original on 2012-10-20. Retrieved 2011-08-03. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  4. ^ "NEOGEO MODE". SNK Playmore. Retrieved 2011-08-03.
  5. ^ Magrino, Tom (2009-03-06). "Big in Japan Feb. 23-Mar. 2: Yakuza 3 bloodies PS3 rivals". GameSpot. Retrieved 2009-03-12.
  6. ^ "Arcadia's Top 10 Video Game List". Arcadia (in Japanese) (114). November 2009.
  7. ^ Khan, Jahanzeb (November 28, 2010). "The King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match Review". PALGN. Archived from the original on November 30, 2010. Retrieved July 17, 2011. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  8. ^ Edwards, Matt (November 11, 2010). "The King of Fighters 2002: Unlimited Match – Review". Eurogamer. Retrieved July 17, 2011.
  9. ^ Feit, Daniel (November 10, 2010). "Review: King of Fighters 2002 Ultimate Match Delivers Knockout Action". Retrieved August 17, 2011.

External linksEdit