The King of Fighters 2003, also known by fans as The King of Fighters X, is a fighting game produced by SNK Playmore for the Neo Geo arcade and home platforms in 2003. It is the tenth game in The King of Fighters series and the last one released for the Neo Geo, which served as the primary platform for the series since The King of Fighters ’94. It was ported to the PlayStation 2 and Xbox (in North America and Japan only and it was not compatible with the Xbox 360), and was released on both consoles in North America in a two-in-one bundle with the preceding game in the series, The King of Fighters 2002.
The game uses a 3-on-3 Tag Battle format in which players can change characters in the middle of a fight. Each team has one leader with access to a Leader Super Special Move. The narrative of the game involves a new tournament set by “R” with two parallel bosses serving as final bosses. The game is notable for starting the story arc of newcomer Ash Crimson, with the story arc itself titled the “Tales of Ash”. Falcoon worked as the main illustrator. Critical reception to this game has been mixed due to the major change of the regular gameplay associated with the series.
The 3-on-3 Team Battle format is used once again, just like in past editions. It also uses a Multi-Shift format that allows players to change characters in the middle of a fight, similar to that was used in Kizuna Encounter. When the “Change OK” sign is displayed above the Power Gauge, the player can do a Quick Shift and change characters immediately, or perform a Switch-Off Attack against the opponent that will consume one Power Gauge stock.
The game also features a Tactical Leader System, in which one of the members of the team is designated as the Leader. The chosen Leader has access to an exclusive move known as the “Leader Super Special Move” (in addition to the regular “Super Special Moves”). However, this usually requires two Power Gauge stocks to be able to perform it.
As in the last game in the series, the players’ Power Gauge can hold up to 3 stocks at the beginning of a match. Unlike the previous game, however, the player starts with a full gauge of three stocks right away. When one team loses one of its members, the maximum capacity of Power Gauge stocks is increased by one, giving the losing team a handicap against the opposing team. In addition, unlike the previous KOF games, each hit only earns the player 100 points.
The King of Fighters 2003’s sequel, The King of Fighters XI would go on to use its mechanics in its gameplay.
Taking place two years after the events of The King of Fighters 2001, a new KOF tournament has been announced, being sponsored by an unknown patron whose identity becomes a matter of public interest in the country. The tournament establishes a new set of rules, including the Multi-Shift System that enables fighters to tag out at any given time and the competition itself, consisting of both veterans and newcomers once again takes place and being shown around the world. The narrative is divided depending on the player’s actions against the mid-boss Kusanagi, a clone of the returning veteran Kyo Kusanagi. An alternate path following Kusanagi’s defeat has the player facing off against a young man named Adelheid Bernstein who is accompanied by his young sister Rose, with the two of them being the children of the notorious Rugal Bernstein. Once Adelheid is defeated, Rose threatens the winner, only to be stopped by Adelheid who tells her to let them go as they won fairly. Within the true ending path, it is revealed that Kusanagi was created by Chizuru Kagura as an attempt to test the winner. Chizuru and her undead sister Maki soon challenge the player to a boss fight. Following the Kagura sisters’ defeat, a woman named Botan reveals herself as the one who had brainwashed Chizuru and that both Botan and her partner Mukai are the true masterminds behind the 2003 tournament, with the latter serving as the true ending final boss. Despite being defeated, Mukai claims success for his unknown superior, having weakened the seal of the ancient demon Orochi and while both Mukai and Botan escape, Ash Crimson attacks a weakened Chizuru and steals the Yata Mirror from her, warning Iori Yagami that he’s his next target.
|Ash Team (Hero Team)
Fatal Fury Team
Art of Fighting Team
Women Fighters Team