The King of Fighters ’99 Evolution
The King of Fighters ’99: Millennium Battle is a 1999 head-to-head fighting game by SNK released for the Neo Geo arcade and home platform. It is the sixth installment in the company‘s The King of Fighters series. The game was ported to the Neo-Geo CD and the PlayStation as the final KOF game released for both platforms. A Dreamcast and Windows version was also released under the title The King of Fighters ’99 Evolution in which the stages look exactly the same as compared with the arcade counterpart only to be exclusively remodeled into 3D. That version was released both in Japan and North America. Both the Neo Geo and Dreamcast versions are included in The Kings of Fighters NESTS Hen compilation released for the PlayStation 2 in Japan. The game introduces several changes to the established KOF format, as well as a new story arc that would later be dubbed the “NESTS Chronicles”.
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Two years have passed since the last King of Fighters tournament and nobody has seen Kyo Kusanagi or Iori Yagami since they defeated Orochi at the climax of the 1997 tournament, but out of the blue, new invitations are sent out to many characters, inviting them to a brand new tournament, though this competition is more of a secretive affair than the ones in ’96 and ’97. Unlike in previous games of the series, there are four characters per team instead of three, with the fourth serving as a “Striker”, a fighter whose function is only to enter a match, attack the opponent and leave without replacing their teammates. In total, there are seven teams, each containing four characters, four Team Edit characters and a boss.
The increased number of characters per team, as well as the story element of the missing Kyo and Iori, lead to the reshuffling to the character roster. K′ is introduced as the new protagonist of the game along with his partner Maxima, who joins forces with Kyo’s former teammates, Benimaru Nikaido and Shingo Yabuki, to form the new Hero Team.Takuma Sakazaki rejoins the Art of Fighting Team as its fourth member, while Mai Shiranui finally becomes an official member of the Fatal Fury Team for the first time in the series. King joins forces with Blue Mary (formerly with the “’97 Special Team”) to form the new Woman Fighters Team along with Kasumi Todoh (last seen in KOF ’96) and Li Xiangfei (from Real Bout Fatal Fury 2: The Newcomers). The other three returning teams each gained a new member as well: Whip for the Ikari Team, Bao for the Psycho Soldier Team, and Jhun Hoon for the Korean Team. The game also introduces two clones of Kyo Kusanagi, Kyo-1 and Kyo-2, as Team Edit characters based on previous playable incarnations of the character, while the real Kyo, along with his rival Iori, also returns, but only as secret playable characters. The antagonist of the game is Krizalid, a clone of K’ employed by NESTS to carry out one of their nefarious schemes. He is faced in two states: first he appears with a coat that analyzes an opponent’s data, then once he is beaten, he takes off his coat and increases his strength while having stronger moves.
KOF ’99 was originally released for the Neo Geo arcade on July 22, 1999. A port for the Neo Geo and Neo-Geo CD consoles were released on September 23, 1999 and December 2, 1999, respectively. The PlayStation port was published on March 23, 2000 in Japan and on April 22, 2001 in North America. In Japan it was later republished for the “PlayStation SNK Best Collection” on March 29, 2001 and once again on July 25, 2002.
It was remade for the Dreamcast as The King of Fighters ’99: Evolution. This version had different stages and a few new selectable striker characters. The new strikers are Kyo Kusanagi, Athena Asamiya (in her school outfit), Goro Daimon, Billy Kane, Ryuji Yamazaki, Chizuru Kagura, Syo Kirishima, Alfred Airhawk, Vanessa, Seth, Fiolina Germi, and Gai Tendo. Additionally, the game can be connected to the Neo Geo Pocket Color game The King of Fighters: Battle de Paradise. Points won in Battle de Paradise can be transferred to The King of Fighters ’99: Evolution to speed up the leveling process for the Extra Strikers. It was published in Japan on March 30, 2000, and it was reprinted on October 25, 2001 with the logo of “SNK Best.” In North America, it was published on May 10, 2001. Both, the Neo Geo and Dreamcast versions are included in The Kings of Fighters NESTS Hen compilation released for the PlayStation 2 in Japan.