The King of Fighters series, produced by SNK Playmore, contains many characters, some of which are taken from other SNK games. The story takes place in a fictional universe in which an annual series of 3-on-3 or 4-on-4 fighting tournaments are held.
The first game in the series introduces the initial main character of the series, Kyo Kusanagi, a young Japanese fighter who is the heir to a powerful group of martial artists who have pyrokinetic abilities. Kyo fights against the Kusanagi's enemies, his rival Iori Yagami, and the demon Orochi and his human followers, among others. The first four games in the series revolve about these fights, while The King of Fighters '99 introduces a new story arc, revolving around K', a clone of Kyo who wants to destroy the mysterious Nests organization. In The King of Fighters 2003, a new character named Ash Crimson enters the tournament to steal the powers of the clans who sealed Orochi in the past. A new group of antagonists also appear in the series, known as Those From the Past, who want to obtain Orochi's power.
The main idea from the plot and the characters came from the Yamata no Orochi legend, while there are also several characters in the games that make are parodies or homages to several popular anime, manga and films. Merchandise based on the characters have also been released including action figure and key-chains. The characters have garnered praise from several video game publications for the quality of their designs and movesets. Comments focused on the lack of improvements in some the characters but added that the rooster is greatly diversed.
Cast creation and influences
The developers of the series claim that their prototype version for KOF was going to be a side-scrolling beat 'em up
. In this version, it would only use core characters from the Art of Fighting
and Fatal Fury
series, specifically allowing players to play Robert Garcia
and Terry Bogard
for location testing. However, the idea was quickly abandoned after the debut of Capcom's game with similar gameplay, Final Fight
. Since they were attached to the idea of the two series cross-over, they eventually agreed to make their idea into a fighting game. Characters from Ikari Warriors
and Psycho Soldier
games were also added in spirit of other gaming genres considered for their final product. The concept of a three-man team was one of the ideas kept from the side-scrolling version.
Flagship director, Toyohisa Tanabe, asserts that the Art of Fighting and Fatal Fury fighters were added specifically for adults. The newer KoF characters were aimed to appeal to younger and newer audiences. He adds that every original character for the series is added based on the developers' strong desire to make one. For example, he agreed to include characters such as Benimaru Nikaido and Chang Koehan to add an off-beat variety to the cast, which he previously deemed to be too serious before. Later in the series, their approach to creating their characters altered slightly to also serve as a type of fan service, which he refers to as a collaborative effort between fans and the staff.
Several characters that appear in the series are parodies or homages to either anime, manga, actors, films or television shows that the creators are interested in. Noticeable examples are K9999 and Zero. Characters are sometimes added at the seiyū's convenience or to fill in gaps that occur for each installment's story; this happens with Duck King in The King of Fighters XI and Ryuji Yamazaki in The King of Fighters '97. Several characters were added to the rooster by Eolith's desire when this compony sponsored SNK, to attract fans from Eolith's region.
When designing characters for the first King of Fighters game, developers wanted a new, "snazzy" hero who would easily fight against Fatal Fury and Art of Fighting characters. Late in production, his name was changed to Kyo Kusanagi in order to relate him with the Yamata no Orochi legend, which was used as the idea to the first arc. To continue with the idea of the Orochi plot, the designers several other characters such as Kyo's rival, Iori Yagami to have similar characteristics as the one of Kyo. In The King of Fighters '99, to contrast the previous protagonist of the series, K' was made to be the "dark hero". K's introduction to the series was meant to remove popular characters Kyo Kusanagi and Iori Yagami from the roster though this idea was scrapped in the game's release. Due to the large additions of teenager charcters in the series, SNK decided to add several middle-age ones to balance them.
is the first protagonist of the series. He is initially introduced as a delinquent, but kind-hearted high school student who is the heir to the Kusanagi clan, who can use pyrokinetic
powers. In The King of Fighters
universe, his clan is one of the three clans that sealed the legendary snake entity, Yamata no Orochi. Due to his clan's past, Kyo often finds himself battling against his rival Iori Yagami
, who happens to be the last member of the Yagami clan and a relucant soldier of Orochi
. He enters every The King of Fighters
tournament, representing Japan and uses his clan's fighting style to combine fire with kenpo
. He is voiced by Masahiro Nonaka
, while Andrew Roth plays him in the English adaptations.
is the second protagonist of the games since The King of Fighters '99
. He is a young person who lost all his memories when the NESTS
syndicate captured him and inserted Kyo Kusanagi
's DNA into his body so that he could copy his fire abilities. K', wanting to prove himself in being his own identity, betrays the syndicate and decides to destroy to them for using his body and deleting all of his memories. Although he hates fighting tournaments, K' uses the The King of Fighters
competition as a way to find those who are associated with NESTS so that he can defeat them in an instant. In his search, he also meets a person named Maxima
who has the same purpose and become partners with him. Yuuki Matsuda
voices him in Japanese, while Andrew Scott is his English voice actor.
is the new protagonist and possible antagonist for The King of Fighters 2003
, in which he makes his first appearance in the series as the leader of the New Hero Team. Ash is designed with the intent of creating an "attractive evil character" with little changes done to him since conception. Falcoon
adds that the main goal for Ash was to make him an ambiguous protagonist that purposely makes players "feel bad" for cheering for him. His motives for entering is to take the powers of the descendants of the clans who sealed Orochi away 1,800 years ago, Kyo Kusanagi
, Iori Yagami
and Chizuru Kagura
, for unknown purposes. He is successful thus far, leaving Kyo as the last power he needs to steal. Ash is cunning and manipulative, often condescending friend or foe to his whim, and has ambiguous morals in his actions. He often gains his teammates through promises that he can fulfill, though he rarely specifies the means of granting them. Despite seeming frail by appearance, Ash is powerful as he is able to defeat Iori in his Riot of the Blood state seemingly with ease and also has the unique ability of creating green fire. He is voiced by Sōnosuke Nagashiro.
Adelheid & Rose
(Adel for short) along with his younger sister, , are the only known children of Rugal Bernstein
who reside in an airship called "Sky Noah". Adel is a boss character from The King of Fighters 2003
as well as a secret and mid-boss for The King of Fighters XI
. They were added to the series to create an alternate story to the main plot. Despite sharing several physical and fighting traits from his father, Adelheid is an honorable fighter who exhibits good sportsmanship
while Rose was developed to be extremely prideful and selfish. In the end of The King of Fighters XI
, Rose is manipulated by a member from the mysterious organization Those From the Past
to use her in their plans.
is the final boss of The King of Fighters '97
. Its character origin is another interpretation of the mythical eight headed serpent, Yamata no Orochi
. In the KOF series, it is a chthonic
supernatural being that regards itself as executing the will of Gaea
. It does not regard humanity as trustworthy with regard to coexisting with the planet without ravaging it and so seeks to extinguish it. It was sealed 1,800 years ago by the three sacred treasures
of Japan. The three clans' descendants are charged with protecting the seal over it. In KOF '97, its spirit possesses Chris (A hearld of Orochi) to fight in the mortal realm. He is sealed again at the end of the '97 tournament by the three descendants of the users of the three sacred treasures, but the seal surrounding is broken in recent games by the demon Mukai
. A clone of Orochi appears as a boss in Neo Geo Battle Coliseum
The Hakkesshu (in the Japanese version) is a group formed by the eight most powerful followers of the creature Orochi
. The four top members are referred to as "Kings". The biological father of Leona Heidern
, is also a member of the group, but when he refused Goenitz's offer to continue Orochi's will, Goenitz had manipulated his daughter into killing him and the rest of her fellow villagers. The criminal Ryuji Yamazaki
is part of the group, but does not want to get involved with them.
New Faces Team
The New Faces Team is a group from KOF '97. They are three of the Four Heavenly Kings of Orochi
and the group is composed of a young boy named , a beautiful but shady woman named and a guitar player named . They initially enter due to Yashiro's grudge against Iori and his own band, but as the tournament progresses, the Orochi blood inside their bodies soon awaken, causing them to remember their status as three of the "Four Heavenly Kings". As loyal members of Orochi, they continue to gather power for the awakening until they are forced to kill themselves in order to resurrect Orochi through Chris' body, a concept that began early in the game's production. Using the Orochi power, they are stated as the Hero Team counterparts since they have their same abilities, in which Chris is able create flames like Kyo Kusanagi
, Shermie creates lightning like Benimaru Nikaido
and Yashiro has a enormous strength like Goro Daimon
Vice and Mature
and appear as members of Iori
's Team in The King of Fighters '96
. The designers at the time created both Mature and Vice with the image of a "ruthless woman" and a "cruel woman" respectively. Their origin story is mostly based on the notion of Rugal employing secretaries prior to The King of Fighters '96
Aside from serving Rugal, both women were also spies and wielders of Orochi. Both women were unavailable during location testing and were likely finished near the end of the game's production schedule. They are ordered by their superior Goenitz to keep an eye in Iori but both of them are killed by him in his Riot of Blood state at the end of the 1996 tournament.
is one of the Four Heavenly Kings of Orochi, with the power to command wind. Despite being an evil villain, Goenitz has a very polite personality, which is reflected in his winning poses and his elegant, somewhat flowery speech. Even though influenced by Orochi, he sports the same "messiah" attitude that aspires to bring about "salvation", expected from people of religious occupations. During the 1996 tournament, Goenitz discovers that Chizuru Kagura plans to gather warriors to seal Orochi and heads there to stop her. However, Goenitz is defeated by Iori Yagami
and Kyo Kusanagi
and kills himself through the use of a gale wind. He is voiced by Yoshinori Shima.
NESTS is a mysterious and dangerous cartel that is involved in the events behind the KOF tournaments that's held between 1999-2001. They are responsible for the creation of the Kyo Kusanagi
clones and K'
. The group is composed of several agents who have different aims, but they all want to become more powerful. The cartel is destroyed with the death of Igniz.
The NESTS Team appear in The King of Fighters 2001
entering in the tournament to kill anybody who would try to destroy their organization. The team is composed by Angel
, a deadly female agent, K9999 (pronounced K Four-Nine) a clone from Kyo entirely based
on Tetsuo Shima
and is also able to transform his arm into a long tentacle like Tetsuo's, Kula Diamond
, a clone from Kyo designed named "Anti-K" due to her ability of creating ice, and Kula's guardian, . When their boss Zero dies, Kula and Foxy decide to leave NESTS and are attacked their teammates who consider them traitors. They mortally injure Foxy, but when they are about to defeat Kula, she is rescued by K'
, whose abilities make them flee.
acts as the mid and final boss of The King of Fighters '99
. He was designed to be a stylish and earnestly strong boss, though the supervising designer at the time admits, "I think I overdid it a little." He is made to be the Ultimate Kyo
clone, outfitted with a special suit to feed the data of fighters into his body during battle. He also happens to be a clone of K'
. As a side effect, he gained some of K's memories and believed that Whip
was his sister. He is ordered to activate the thousands of Kyo clones around the world so that they can attack in a simulatenous strike. After his defeat against K', his superior, Zero
neutralizes the Kyo clones and kills Krizalid by throwing a boulder to crush him. He is revived later by the original Zero and fights along side him in the 2001 tournament. He is voiced by Yoshiyuki Iwamoto.
is one of the higher-ranked agents of "NESTS". The designer, C.A.C Yamasaki, admits basing Zero off a certain character from the manga Fist of the North Star
. He begins to secretly build his own weapon from NESTS' technology called the "Zero Cannon", setting it to operate. He sets his plans into motion in The King of Fighters 2000
. There, he impersonates a military commander named Ling and uses his persona as a decoy to stop the military resistance against him. Depending on the actions of the player, his plans are foiled by either Heidern or Kula
, who is sent to execute him for his treacherous acts.
However, the Zero in The King of Fighters 2000 is revealed to be a clone from the , who appears as a sub-boss in The King of Fighters 2001. He was created because the supervising designer to his character claimed to be dissatisfied with Zero's design in 2000. Unlike his clone, Zero is extremely loyal to the NESTS syndicate and was disgusted to learn of his clone's attempted coup d'état. Willing to clear his reputation of his clone's actions, Zero is commanded to destroy the winners of The King of Fighters tournament. He traps the winning team in a space ship that was disguised as a blimp. When he is defeated, he urges the team to escape the collapsing ship and dies on board the vessel. The original Zero is voiced by Toshimitsu Arai, while the clone is voiced by Kinta Futogane.
is the final boss
in The King of Fighters 2001
. His handsome and youthful appearance was specifically created at the sponsors' request. Igniz becomes the leader of NESTS after he killed his father years ago in a surprising move. After the events of the '99 and 2000 tournaments, Igniz decides to hosts the KOF 2001
tournament in hopes of becoming a new god, deciding to test his newly-acquired power against the finalists. His hopes are short-lived however when he is defeated by K'
's team. Cursing his failure and declaring himself a demon instead, Igniz attempts to destroy the planet by plummeting NESTS' main headquarters out of orbit, though it fails miserably and Igniz dies from within the process. He is voiced by Norio Wakamoto.
Ron (龍; Pinyin
) is first introduced as a sub-plot character in The King of Fighters 2000
. He later appears as a Striker
for the Zero
in The King of Fighters 2001
. Though he is not playable in the series, he serves as an important side-story character. According to his official profile, his main objective is to have the ability to manipulate the dead. He is the former leader to an elite assassination group known as the Flying Brigands -or Clan in Japanese- and the father to a number of their members, including Duo Lon
and Xiao Lon
. He betrayed the Flying Brigands by joining NESTS for personal gain, labeling himself as a traitor by many of the group's members, including the Chinese ninja Lin. After NESTS's destruction, he reveals his great interest in a mysterious power shared by Sie Kensou
known as the Dragon Spirit. He is voiced by Takaya Kuroda.
Those From the Past
is a new group of antagonists that appear in the 2003 tournament. They are mysterious and supposedly inhuman warriors who want to get the power of the Orochi
so that they can give it to their shrouded master.
is the final boss in King of Fighters 2003
. His appearance was designed with the concept of petrification in mind. He makes a prompt appearance in the King of Fighters 2003
tournament seeking strong opponents and to test his strength. It is also strongly implied he is somehow connected to the Orochi bloodline and the wills. He speaks in very pious, grandiose declarations, but appears to have a cautious attitude toward the potential of humans. Mukai reveals that his group organized the 2003 KOF tournament so that they could break winning team of the tournament, seeing if they have what it takes to survive in "the new age". However, Mukai is defeated but manages to escape. Mukai's primary power is his control over many things related to stone. He can form stone, either in crude rocks to chuck at foes, or elaborate pillars to crush them with. He is voiced by Toshihiro Shigetsuka.
makes his first appearance in The King of Fighters XI
as a sub-boss. He was conceptually designed to be one of Ron
's daughters though developers decided to change his gender to startle and appeal to fans with his androgynous
appearance. Shion is an enigmatic character who's past in unknown. He works as an underling for the demon Magaki
and seems knowledgeable about the workings of Orochi. After being defeated at the ruins of the tournament finals, he is dragged through an extradimensional gate and seemingly killed. However, after Magaki is defeated at the end of the tournament, Shion's spear is hurled through a gate Magaki created and goes through his chest, killing him instantly. He is voiced by Jidai Ogawa.
is the new boss of KOF XI. Nothing is known about the fighter Magaki, save that he hosts The King of Fighters
tournament. Like his partner, Mukai, Magaki wants to awake Orochi and give Orochi's powers to his own master. He also shows even less respect for humans in general, believing them to have little-to-no potential, and being weak overall. He also seems to have very little tolerance for not getting what he wants from others. Like Mukai before him, after he was defeated he stood up, apparently unscathed, and after commenting that perhaps it was more than spirit that was needed to awaken Orochi, made his exit into another realm. However as he finally realizes the error in his plan, he is killed by Shion
's spear, hurled from the dimensional rift he was escaping from. He is voiced by Spicy Yagi.
The Benimaru Team is created by after two years of leaving the Japan Team. Benimaru has the ability to create electricity and causes him to leave his straight hair during fights stays up. , a former gold medalist of Judo and a mentor to his own dojo
. After the climax of The King of Fighters '97
, Goro retires from being a fighter and returns to the Judo circuit representing Japan. He returns as a fighter in his later appearances due to either Kyo or Benimaru's requests. first appeared in the series as an edit entry but in 99 he joins Benimaru. He dreams of being able to wield flames like his mentor Kyo, which is stressed to the point of comic relief
throughout the series.
Fatal Fury Team
The Fatal Fury Team is composed by characters from the video game with the same name
. The is initially composed by Terry Bogard
: an American fighter who sought to defeat an evil crime lord named Geese Howard
in order to avenge the death of his father. Andy Bogard
: the younger brother of Terry who uses Shiranui Ninjutsu
to fight, and Joe Higashi
: a Muay Thai
fighter and friend to both Terry and Andy. During the 1999, 2000 and 2001 tournaments, Mai Shiranui
, a Shiranui kunoichi
, and Blue Mary
, a female agent, also enter the team due to the need of having an fourth member during the time. In the 2003 tournament, Andy leaves them to take care of a Shiranui disciple named Hokutomaru
, who fell sick and Tizoc
, a famous Mexican pro wrestler
enters the team to replace him. In The King of Fighters XI, Tizoc and Joe leave the team for their own reasons, enabling Duck King
and Kim Kaphwan
to replace them in order to help Terry out.
The Garou Team appears only in KOF XI
and shows characters that appear in the video game Garou: Mark of the Wolves
. The team is composed by Tizoc
, a famous pro wrestler
, a powerful martial artist and a female pirate named B. Jenet
. Though the members become good friends, Gato decides to leave them after the end of the tournament.
Art of Fighting Team
The Art of Fighting Team is formed of characters from the video game with the same name
and most of its member are practitioners of the Kyokugen Karate style. The is initially composed by the teacher Takuma Sakazaki
his son Ryo
, the heir of the dojo and his student Robert Garcia
. Takuma's daughter, Yuri
only appears in some tournaments since she wants train in the Women Fighters Team, which is exclusively composed of women and sometimes ends asking King
to replace her in the team. Takuma, however, like this idea and decided to also ask King keep in the team, wanting her to force the consummation of Ryo and King's still tentative relationship.
Women Fighters Team
The Women Fighters Team, initially known as England Team, is a team composed exclusively by women. The team is originally composed by the ninja Mai Shiranui
, the Muay Thai
and a teenager named Yuri Sakazaki
. In the games there are several changes in the member of the team, as Yuri is replaced by the heir of the ancient Yata clan Chizuru Kagura
and Kasumi Todoh
. In later games, new characters appears due to the new rule of using four members; Li Xiangfei
, and Blue Mary
in 2003. In XI, the team is dissolved since the members go to other teams or they have other things to do.
Psycho Soldier Team
The Psycho Soldier Team is a team that specializes in using psychic
powers -dubbed by SNK as Psycho Powers
. The powers and some members of the team originally belong to a SNK video game Psycho Soldier
. The team is composed by Chin Gentsai (鎮元斎), an elderly mentor of Psycho Power but leaves the competition in 2003 to observe the matter thoroughly, asking K'
to investigate the tournament in his place for activity. The others members of the team are his students Athena Asamiya
, a famous singer,
a teenager named and a little boy named Bao (包; Pinyin
: 包 Pao
). As Bao trains with them, Kensou gradually loses his powers until they become obsolete. Ron
and Misty seem to take an interest in it, revealing a probable importance of the Dragon Spirit. A young girl who trained by Kensou and Athena, , also debuts in the team in The King of Fighters XI
She was added into the cast to fit the image of the younger Psycho Soldier team, though developers have expressed discomfort with adding a character as young as her amongst a large group of adults.
The Ikari Team is a group of militaries that enter in each tournament from the series in order to find famous criminals and capture them. Some of his members and clothes originate from the SNK video game Ikari Warriors
. , established his team in order find the criminal Rugal to get his revenge for killing his family. The other two recurring member of the team are the soldiers Clark Still
and Ralf Jones
. , the adopted daughter of Heidern is introduced in The King of Fighters '96
to replace him and tends to be very quiet. Leona was conceived to be an Orochi
descendant by the time of her debut and her designers took special care to let their interests at the time reflect in her actions. While she is experiencing the Riot of The Blood in KOF97 her hair turns pink and her eyes are white. appears in The King of Fighters '99
as the new member to the Ikari team. She is a clone of K'
's sister and once worked for NESTS as an assassin. She is eventually assigned to Heidern's mercenary unit for the King of Fighters tournament to investigate NESTS. Once she realizes who he is, she reveals their relation to K joins him in his objective to destroy the NESTS cartel. One of her moves depicts her shooting her opponents with a Desert Eagle-like handgun. The firearm is edited from the American release of the games in arcades, but is uncensored in the home release versions.
The Korea team is composed by Tae Kwon Do
users. The group is leaded by Kim Kaphwan
, a national hero from his country who forced two criminals to enter his team as pretending to be a "Rehabilitation project". The criminals are Chang Koehan (Korean
: 장거한, Japanese
: チャン・コーハン Chan Kōhan
), a giant man who uses an iron ball and Choi Bounge (Korean: 최번개, Japanese: チョイ・ボンゲ Choi Bonge
), a little person who uses claws to fight based on the famous fictional character Freddy Krueger
. During this time, they befriend themselves and scheme for ways of escape but they eventually mellow out and enjoy their companions' company. In the 99 tournament, a new member called Jhun Hoon (Korean: 전훈, Japanese: ジョン・フーン Jon Fūn
) enters the team. He has known Kim since childhood since they trained at the same dojo. After seeing Kim's ethics and methods of training, Jhun Hoon decided that he would show him a more "efficient" way of management. In 2001, he breaks his arm chasing an image of his idol Athena Asamiya and is replaced by a young girl called May Lee who admires them. May Lee's character design stems from sponsor Eolith
's desire for a "Korean Athena
" that was an "idol
-like visual fighter." In The King of Fighters XI, the team takes a break due to Kim entering the tournament as a member of the Fatal Fury Team.
The Boss Team is a group that only appears in the King of Fighters 96. The team is composed by Wolfgang Krauser
, Mr. Big
and the leader Geese Howard
, who uses them as pawns in the tournament to get the power from the Orochi being, while the others only want to prove their strength. Although they fail, in the 97 and 2003 tournaments Geese sponsors a new team for the same purpose. The team is made of Billy Kane
, Blue Mary
and Ryuji Yamazaki
, though Blue Mary is replaced by Gato in 2003.
is a member of the Yata clan that holds one of the three sacred artifacts
that originally sealed the serpent monster Orochi
1,800 years ago. As the heiress of the Yata, she is raised as a priestess
and maintains the duty of keeping the diligent seal on Orochi intact. One night, a Orochi servant, Goenitz
visited their home to and destroys the seal after killing Chizuru's sister, Maki. Ten years afterwards, Chizuru is a very successful and prestigious business woman. She secretly hosts the tournament in 1996 in hopes of entreating Kyo and Iori to help her replace the broken seal. The three of them succeed in their task at the climax of The King of Fighters '97
. She hosts another King of Fighters tournament in 2003 with intentions similar to her previous attempt. During the tournament, she is under mind-control by a member from Those From the Past
. She creates an illusion of her sister Maki as one of the game's sub-bosses and also creates a clone from Kyo named Kusanagi to test the strength for the tournament's contestants. Eventually, she breaks free from control and tries to restore the seal of Orochi, but Ash steals her powers. She survives the attack but can no longer participate in fights, asking Kyo's disciple Shingo Yabuki
to fill her spot in The King of Fighters XI
. She is initially voiced by Akiko Saitou, but in 2003 she is replaced by Yukiko Sugawa.
Duo Lon (堕瓏; Pinyin
: デュオロン Dyuoron
) makes his first appearance in The King of Fighters 2003
as a member of the year's Hero Team. His overall look was based on anime title character
, Vampire Hunter D
. He is a member of the assassin group, the Flying Brigands, -or - and the half-brother to Xiao Lon
. He is an acquaintance of Ash Crimson
and Shen Woo
. Hoping to hunt down the clan's traitor, Ron
, he agrees to enter the tournament with them. However, after discovering Ash's true objectives, he teams up with Elisabeth Blanctorche
and Benimaru Nikaido
. Information on Duo Lon's design graphy revealed he is one of the nine children of Ron, an assassin who chased after his own father. He is voiced by Tsunehito Maruo.
is one of three original characters debuting in The King of Fighters XI
. Her initial character concept was to be the rival to Ash though developers decided to change her importance into a "leading lady" character. Developers also describe her fighting style as "orthodox with subtle tricks [to it]" despite her minimal moveset. She initially invites Benimaru Nikaido
and Duo Lon
to France to form the Rival Team. She eventually reveals her acquaintance with Ash Crimson
, whom she scolds for seeming to forsake their mission. She is voiced by Kayoko Ooshima.
first appeares as the sub-boss in The King of Fighters 2000
; she enters as a normal participant in her other appearances. Her original hair color is chestnut brown, but it changes to a light blue when she activates her ice powers. She was designed to be the antagonistic foil to K'
, in an attempt to better develop characteristics of the NESTS cartel. She was specially made with attempts to depict a "14-year-old girl" with "appropriately girlish" gestures with help from newly hired female staff.
She is a being created by NESTS to exterminate the cartel's traitor, K'. Despite the fact that their subject was a mindless puppet with no sign of emotions, the NESTS cartel created an android called Candy Diamond, to monitor Kula's behavior and assure she would accomplish her missions. When Kula destroys the main Zero Cannon, Candy shields her descent from space, sacrificing her body as it is badly burned from Earth's atmosphere. Diana, a former top executive of NESTS acts as the girl's guardian in the series. Kula is often ordered to exterminate other traitors to NESTS but has been known to disobey her orders for the sake of others. After NESTS' destruction, she allies on friendly terms with her target, K' and his companions. Her seiyu is Yumi Kakazu
, and her voice actress in English-language adaptations is Kat Cassteneda.
is the heir of the Yagami clan, one of the three clans who sealed the Orochi
. However, his clan is cursed by Orochi giving him powers that cause all the clan to die when being young and create blue flames. Iori has a big hate against the Kusanagi clan but he later becomes obsessed to kill their heir Kyo
, disregarding their clans's past and seeing him as the person he has to kill. Due to that, he sometimes ends helping him in order to have the opportunity to have a final fight against him. He is voiced by Kunihiko Yasui
, while in some English adaptations he is voiced by Eric Summerer.
Lin (麟; Pinyin
: 麟 Rin
) is one of the new characters introduced in The King of Fighters 2000
as a member of the Benimaru Team
. He, along with the Flying Brigands subplot, was created without the entire staff's knowledge, leading to some developers being surprised by his team's ending. Though he is no longer an active member in KOF, his story and character have not been abandoned. He is a member of the assassination group, The Flying Brigands -or Clan in Japanese- which is apparently on the brink of ruin. He is enticed by the agent Seth
to enter the King of Fighters tournament in order to find their clan's missing leader, Ron
. After learning that Ron defected to NESTS, he tracks the activities of NESTS' renegades, K'
and his teammates, in hopes of finding his leader. He continues to search for Ron even after NESTS' destruction. For an unexplained reason, he appears next to Ron in the Psycho Soldier Team's ending in The King of Fighters XI
. He is a master of the Poison Hand technique, which enables the user to turn their own blood into venom. He is voiced by Takaya Kuroda
is a character who debuts in The King of Fighters 2003
as a member of the High School Girls Team (alongside Athena Asamiya
and Hinako Shijou
). Her addition to the series was made due to Choi's
absence in the game of her debut. The game producers state that her name should be spelled as Malin
and not Marin
, adding that "this is the humble preference of the supervising designer and a mystery to us all". She becomes a member of the Anti-Kyokugenryu Team in The King of Fighters XI
due to her animosity towards one of the style's practitioners, Yuri Sakazaki
. She is voiced by Kazuyo Inosako.
debuts as a member of the Hero Team in The King of Fighters '99
. He was added to the cast with the desire to add a "somber and reliable middle-aged character" to counteract the introduction of multiple teenage characters. Maxima was a Canadian
soldier who led a normal life until he found out that his comrade-in-arms Rocky was killed in an incident involving NESTS. To avenge Rocky he abandons his ordinary life. To infiltrate the cartel without being recognized, Maxima was transformed into a cyborg
, with strength and reaction time increased to superhuman levels, built-in weapons and the ability to conduct instant data analysis. He also has some degree of cyberpathy
. He infiltrates NESTS and is assigned to be the partner to K'
. They both defect from the cartel after K' encounters his clone, Krizalid
, and grows sickened by the organization. Since then, he has become K's steadfast companion and he is often the one who enters both of them into the following tournaments. His is voiced by Katsuyuki Konishi
, while his English voice actor is Mike Jarmus.
appears in The King of Fighters XI
belonging to the year's Hero Team along with Ash Crimson
and Shen Woo
. He was created under the image of being an older gentleman and is enigma to even the creators. Developers consider his moves to be comical compared to the seriousness of his image, especially the move Joker
when it is blocked or misses. They chose to leave the result of his fight with Shen ambiguous, implying that fans would have been disappointed with the outcome. He was originally intended to be the "good-looking glasses" character for the series. It is revealed at the end of the tournament that Oswald joins Ash and Shen Woo to obtain money and drugs
named Dragon Pills. Ash agrees to give information regarding the drug to him, explaining that it can only be given to him if he defeats the provider's enemy, Shen Woo. He is voiced by Toshihiro Shigetsuka.
makes his first appearance in The King of Fighters 2000
as a member of the year's Hero Team. Ramon is known as the only character to speak Spanish
in the game and was created to appeal to the Latin American fanbase and has a fighting style primarily surrounding around Lucha Libre. He is a famous Lucha Libre wrestler who is loved by his fans in the wrestling circle known as the "El Diablo Armadillo" (The Armadillo Devil). He is approached by an agent named Vanessa
, who requests in his cooperation with forming a team for The King of Fighters 2000
tournament. Feeling he could expand his horizons and competitive spirit further, he accepts to cooperate. Since then, he has a one-sided infatuation with Vanessa. After The King of Fighters 2000
, he continues to team with Vanessa upon her request, often along with Seth
. He is voiced by Eiji Takemoto.
is a character who debuted in The King of Fighters '94
as a victim in Rugal
's gallery of defeated fighters. He appears as a mid-boss in The King of Fighters '95
and becomes playable for the first time in The King of Fighters '98
. He was originally meant to have died in The King of Fighters '94
but was added in at the last minute of developing stages for The King of Fighters '95
. He is the previous head of the Kusanagi clan who left his family to face worthy opponents across the globe. After his defeat by Rugal, he is brainwashed
by his secretaries to fight his son, Kyo
. Upon his defeat, he regains his senses and escapes from Rugal's ship. In The King of Fighters 2001
, he appears before Shingo Yabuki
and spends a year properly teaching him the Kusanagi fighting style. He is voiced by Keiichirou Sakaki.
is a videogame character makes his first appearance in the series as a Striker
in The King of Fighters '99 Evolution
. He debuts as a playable character in The King of Fighters 2000
as a member of the Benimaru Team. He was created along with Vanessa
, though Seth became the visual model for her. Developers wished to have a character with "the powerful image of a big, dark, middle-aged man with a Mohawk haircut". He was ordered by his superior Ling to enter the King of Fighters
tournament to capture the Flying Brigands leader, Ron
. To do this, he arranges to work with the Benimaru Team. During the tournament, he learns that Ling is really Zero
in disguise and that Ron had joined with NESTS. He continues to investigate Ron's activities as the series progresses. He is also asked to attend Heidern
's conference with the Agent Team in The King of Fighters XI
. He is voiced by Hidetoshi Nakamura, while in some English adaptations, his voice actor is Glenn Haig.
Shen Woo (神・武) is one of the members of the Hero Team in The King of Fighters 2003
, also composed of Ash Crimson
and Duo Lon
. He was first conceptualized to be a "wild and sexy man". Due to his fighting style revolving around punches, designers for his fighting style had to create enough distinction in his attacks to avoid confusion with Ralf
and Yashiro. What is known is that he was raised in the Chinese city of Shanghai
and given the nickname Shen Woo
for developing his own, devastating street-fighting boxing style best described as "violent". He soon came to be very feared, and grew to enjoy the thrill of the fight. Eventually, he came to know the enigmatic fighter Ash, who entered Shen, himself, and Duo Lon
as the "Hero team" into the KOF 2003 tournament. At the end of The King of Fighters XI
, Ash decides to pit his two teammates against each other by Setting up Shen woo Agianst Oswald who has assassination orders for shen woo. He is voiced by Kouji Suitsu.
is a character who first debuts as a Striker
in The King of Fighters '99 Evolution
and becomes playable in The King of Fighters 2000
. Like Maxima
, she was created as a middle-aged female to contrast the multiple teenage characters in the roster. She is a normal housewife who discreetly serves as a mercenary agent. Working under the orders of commander Ling, Vanessa and fellow agent Seth
are commissioned with the job of joining the King of Fighters tournament, held by Ling, to follow the footsteps of the NESTS cartel. The two agents part from one another with Vanessa recruiting prime suspects, K'
, Maxima, and Ramon
to complete their team. Her objective from then on is to observe the activities of the NESTS defectors based on Ling's orders. In The King of Fighters XI
together with Blue Mary and Ramon, Vanessa enters the tournament under orders to receive information concerning the broken Orochi
seal and the mysterious members of Those From the Past
. She is voiced by Kaori Minami.
The characters from The King of Fighters
series have had praise and criticism by several video game reviewers
commented that the series has a well varied cast of selectable characters since there are characters from other games that the fans will like to play with as well as they praised them to have unpredictable appearances. IGN
agreed with this and commented that every charcter has their unique moves and praised their visuals even though they mentioned they have old 2D designs. However they criticized the difficulty to learn to use their special moves. In reviews for the first game, IGN has praised the main character Kyo Kusanagi
to be one of the most enjoyable characters to play with remarking his dynamism and movesets. GameSpot
also praised the characters designs to shine through, resulting in a cast of characters that's diverse and not plentiful. In other reviews, they complained about the lack of improvements in their movesets in some games and also mentioned that some techniques were simply removed. They also that while new characters introduced in some games are interesting, they do not have the same impact as other ones. 1UP.com
labelled the characters from the series as one of the best creations of SNK, claiming that their appearances and quotes are all "cool" although they commented some of the storylines are "nonsense". GameSpy
has criticized the abilities of the bosses character "as stupid-hard", commenting that it could take a lot to a player to defeat them. GameSpot also complained about the boss character Krizalid in The King of Fighters '99
to have one of the most ugly designs and to be overpowerful.
The characters designs in the Maximum Impact have been highly praised by IGN, for giving them good detailed faces, interactions with backgrounds where the characters and that someones make good fanservice. However, they complained about the lack of bloody scenes of some characters that are normally violent and how irregular are the English voice actors in the game. Gamezone added that some characters still remain their unique fighting style but complained about the lack of individualized endings and commented that some of their attacks have less style in 3D. GameSpot also added that the English voices lacked originality but commented that their faces and new outfits were well done.
Several types of merchandise have been produced based on the likeness of the characters in the The King of Fighters series. Merchandise includes action figures, puzzles, key-chains and pins. Many characters are also featured on posters, wallpapers, and trading cards.