The King of Fighters 2002

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This article is about the vanilla/pure version of The King of Fighters 2002. You may be looking for the "Unlimited Match" updated version.
The King of Fighters 2002
Genre: Fighting game
Platforms: Arcade (Neo-Geo MVS)
Neo-Geo AES
Sega Dreamcast
PlayStation 2
Microsoft Windows
Xbox One
Nintendo Switch
PlayStation 4
Release Date: October 10, 2002 (earliest release date)
Developer: Japan
South Korea
Publisher: Playmore
Franchise: The King of Fighters
Previous Game: The King of Fighters 2001 (by release date)
The King of Fighters '98 (same premise)
Next Game: The King of Fighters 2003

The King of Fighters 2002: Challenge to Ultimate Battle is a fighting game developed by Eolith and published by Playmore in October 10, 2002, initially for the Neo-Geo MVS arcades. Which was later ported to Neo-Geo AES, Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, Xbox, Microsoft Windows (either Steam or, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 & Xbox One.

It is the ninth installment in the main series and the second as a dream match (like KOF98), meaning that the game does not have a plot and only gathers the best from all previous games.

The game is best known for most of the YouTube videos being in either Spanish, Portuguese or even Simplified Chinese. Even more than English.

Why It Rocks

WARNING: Do not include any kind of "feature" from hacked versions like Magic Plus II, 10th Anniversary or Super 2004. This article will only cover the legal ("pure") version of the game.


  1. It is very popular in some countries like Mexico, Brazil, China and even South Korea. It even surpasses most Street Fighter games, and there is a reason.
  2. The King of Fighters 2002 is a dream match. This means that the game does not have a plot, tries to gather all fighters from all previous games and only mixes the best mechanics the franchise can give.
  3. Despite the development by Eolith (due to SNK's bankruptcy in 2000/2001), KOF2002 is a pretty noticeable improvement over KOF2001.
  4. Choose between 39 fighters (43, if considering hidden alternate versions of existing ones) to play with! Not including Omega Rugal, which is not playable normally (for the Neo-Geo & Arcade versions).
    • Between all Neo-Geo era KOF games, 2002 has the largest roster.
  5. Just like every KOF game, the battle rounds are turn-based with trios. This gives a difference over almost every arcade fighting game, which is 2 rounds to win for an one-on-one fight.
    • The Striker system seen from KOF99 to KOF2001 (which consists in calling a reserved fighter to attack) was removed. Said system was responsible for most of the bugs and glitches from said games, anyways.
  6. The Quick Cancel allows you to quickly move from a Special Move hit to another one, which is awesome for combos! This is only possible during the MAX-ON state and the timer drains faster when triggered.
  7. Hidden Super Desperation Moves. Enough said.
    • The strongest moves in the game. To trigger them, you must have 2 stock bars and your health bar must be 30% or lower. All characters have it's individual command inputs to trigger.
  8. The game is in English with Japanese voices for all regions (despite the development team being from both Japan and South Korea). The translation is only made for victory quotes.
  9. Unique OST soundfont.
  10. Decent voice acting, if not in anime level of quality. Highlights for anyone that sounded bad in KOF2001, which were redubbed here. The same applies for the announcer.

PlayStation 2 & Xbox

  1. 3 new characters (Geese Howard, Goenitz & Orochi Iori) were added (alongside with the return King and Shingo Yabuki from the Dreamcast version, somating 5). Now there is a total of 48!
    • All these new characters are unlockable via challenges like Time Attack.
  2. You can play with the boss normally.
  3. Interface and portraits were remastered from 320x224 to 640x480.
  4. 3D remade stages! Some are either totally new or are in a new angle.
  5. The projectiles got a transparency / color blending, which reasonabily looks good.

Bad Qualities


  1. Omega Rugal is back, and worse than ever. With it's ultra-fast Kaiser Wave (and even has 3 forms if delayed), high-dealing Genocide Cutter, projectile-reflecting Dark Barrier and various other moves, frustration is guaranteed.
  2. There are some cheap/unbalanced characters like K9999 and Kula Diamond.
  3. Ugly promotional artwork.
  4. K9999 (one of the cheap characters) has a very strong resemblance to Tetsuo Shima from Akira. With appearance, quotes, movements and even has the same voice actor. This obviously resulted in a lawsuit.
    • As a result, K9999 was changed to Nameless in the Unlimited Match version.
  5. Although hard to trigger, there are many bugs and glitches. Just search for them on YouTube and you'll find a lot.
  6. Blood is removed from western versions, for some reason.
  7. The cutscenes in the credits/staff roll is a cringefest.

Arcade & Neo-Geo AES

  1. The hacked versions said above (with Magic Plus II being the worst offender) are way more common than the legit "real deal" game. Making some people think that some oddities like in-battle character change (tag), gauge recovering, free HSDMs (no 30% life needed), minimized/deformed characters, etc. are possible. None of these mechanics are possible on the original.
  2. There is a rare probability of getting a "TASK OVER !!", depending on what happens in the middle of the fight. Notice that the game slows down during this. If that happen at the point of worsen, the game will freeze. Forcing you to reset the machine. All credits and progress will be lost.
  3. May Lee Jinju, although good to play with, enters in a broken state when the opponent does a Quick Cancel without any collision or a Quick MAX-ON. Hitting her fixes the problem.
  4. King (the tomboyish waitress) is absent for the first time, considering that she was present since the first game in the series. Thankfully, she returned in later ports.

PlayStation 2 & Xbox

  1. Those 3 new characters (Goenitz, Geese & Orochi Iori) are recycled from SVC Chaos, with no visible changes whatsoever.
  2. For some reason the analog stick is not supported on the PlayStation 2 version. This is a problem, because the game is infamous for command inputs and combos that makes players want to move the arcade stick like crazy. To rub more salt in the wounds, the PlayStation 2's D-pad is allegedly uncomfortable, meaning that sore thumbs are fully guaranteed.



Your Typical Random Dude

29 days ago
Score 0
Possibly the best SNK game in The King Of Fighters history


29 days ago
Score 0
In my opinion, that titles goes to The King Of Fighters XIII.

Your Typical Random Dude

25 days ago
Score 0
King of Fighters 13 is good despite it has the same sprites from King of Fighters 12

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