Hands On: King of Fighters Sky Stage
Why are Athena and Kyo flying around shooting things? You won't find out here!
The only King of Fighters game at this year's Amusement Machine Show wasn't a fighting game. Instead, SNK Playmore invited players to see what the KOF series would have been like if Street Fighter II had been a vertical shooter.
KOF Sky Stage was playable through a single kiosk in Taito's booth at the show (the game uses Taito's Type X arcade board). Players were able to try out two stages as either Kyo or Athena.
Picture your typical bullet hell shooter, replace your ship and the bosses with floating King of Fighters characters, and you'll have KOF Sky Stage. I couldn't find anything that would relate the game to the KOF series aside from the characters and the occasional special move.
The demo didn't explain why -- or how, for that matter -- the characters are soaring through the skies shooting at things. Athena's "story" was just three text bubbles regarding an approaching danger of some form. There are also little story cut-ins before boss fights -- in Ryo's case Athena for the first stage and Iori for the second stage.
As a shooter, it was a bit difficult to judge the game, as there's far too much slowdown at this point in development (currently 40% complete, according to Impress Watch). You make use of three buttons: A for a standard shot, B for a super move, and C for a bomb. Your character has three levels of supers, based off how far you've built up a super meter gauge at the bottom of the screen by blasting away at enemies.
Sky Stage did manage to draw crowds at the AM Show, with players, presumably KOF series fans, seeming to enjoy seeing how the series' characters are represented in a different genre. It remains to be seen if there's a reason for the game to exist aside from the KOF tie-in, and if there's a reason for that tie-in to exist in the first place.
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