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Platform

Xbox

 

Genre

Fighting

 

Publisher

SNK Playmore

 

Developer

SNK Playmore

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

June 28, 2005

 

 

- One of the first really good 2D to 3D fighting game conversions
- Superb soundtrack
- Ability to choose Japanese voice track

 

 

- Maybe a little bit too fast and unbalanced
- Not much added to the Xbox port

 

 

Review: King of Fighters 2002/2003 (PlayStation 2)

Review: King of Fighters 2000/2001 (PlayStation 2)

Action Figure: Vanessa (King of Fighters)

 

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King of Fighters: Maximum Impact Maniax

Score: 8.0 / 10

 

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The introduction of Virtua Fighter in the mid 90s forever changed the landscape of arcades worldwide. Since then, there's been a sharp divide between 2D and 3D fighting game fans. Old timers remained stalwart in their devotion to Capcom and SNK, while Tekken and Soul Calibur attracted new fans with its more "realistic" game stylings. There have been attempts to bridge the gap between the two, but none of them were really that great - Street Fighter Alpha EX and Fatal Fury: Wild Ambition were mediocre at best, and SNK's own polygon-based Hyper 64 platform was a dismal failure. Having grown out of its Neo Geo roots, SNK Playmore is back to give the 3D realm another shot in its one of first console-exclusive titles - King of Fighters: Maximum Impact.

Past 2D to 3D conversions have been sluggish attempts to capture the poetry of sprite-based animation. SNK realized this - Maximum Impact plays FAST. It blows

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- Xbox Game Reviews

- Fighting Game Reviews

Tekken's stilted combo movements out the window, and blazes past even Dead or Alive's lightning quick action. Combos are easily strung together, and the game is very generous in granting super moves. Sometimes it's almost a little TOO fast, as you can accomplish quite a bit with some mindless button mashing. This simplicity is bound to alienate hardcore fighting game purists,

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but it makes for a nice pick-up-and-play match with casual gamers. Other than that, it pretty much plays like a 2D fighters, and there aren't very many additions that come with the shift to the third dimension - you can sidestep, but that's really about it. Oddly enough, the good ol' A+B defensive move doesn't let you roll through your opponent anymore, greatly undermining its usefulness.

Maximum Impact has a total of nineteen characters, which naturally includes favorites like Terry, Ryo, Yuri, Mai, Leona and others. Kim is gone, having been replaced by a younger, female version named Chae Lim, and Rock Howard makes his first official appearance in a King of Fighters game. Alongside them are five completely new characters - brothers Alba and Soiree Meira, annoying magic girl Mignon Beart, sexy British assassin Lien Neville, and the typically cheap boss, Duke. Unlike the 2D King of Fighters, you can only pick one character to play through the game, and the matches are only one-on-one. In addition to the Story Mode, there's a challenge mode which presents players with specific tasks - both of these modes will unlock character profiles and extra stages when completed.

 

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All of the characters' exaggerated movements and stances have been replicated perfectly in 3D, even if their faces do look a little bit weird. Everyone also has two outfits - with some characters, they're just alternate versions of their usual costumes (you can have a pre-2000 or post-2000 Kyo, or choose to have Terry in his Mark of the Wolves outfit.) However, the other characters have been given extreme makeovers by popular artist Falcoon. While it's pretty cool to see such classic characters given drastic facelifts, some of it doesn't sit right - Mai and Iori just don't look right with short hair, while Clark's Rastafarian look is just embarrassing. It's not all bad though Yuri dresses up as Fio from Metal Slug, and Leona looks pretty rocking with pink hair. The fighting arenas are decent, but a little bland compared to the 2D wonderworks SNK is usually known for. However, the music oozes the rocking quality that have been lacking in King of Fighters games lately despite the bizarre rapping, Maximum Impact easily has the best soundtrack since KoF 2000.

We initially saw Maximum Impact released in late 2004 for the Playstation 2. Nine months later we have the XBox port (subtitled "Maniax"), whose most important feature is obviously the Live support. There are a number of minor enhancements that come with the move to the stronger platform the graphics are a bit crisper, the load times are quicker, and some of the slowdown present in the PS2 game have been fixed. Also new is an option to take screenshots or record movies, but its usefulness is questionable. And thankfully, you now have the ability to switch to the original Japanese voices, which is an extremely welcome addition considering the English dub was a terrible affront to the ears.

Had this been released simultaneously with the PS2 version, the Xbox one would be the clear winner. However, the PS2 version has also been severely discounted by this point, and also includes a cool making-of DVD that Maniax unfortunately lacks. Regardless, it's still worth investigating. King of Fighter: Maximum Impact is a 3D fighter for people who hate 3D fighters. It's simple, fast paced fun that comes with a fair bit of cheese, but not enough to stink up the joint.

- Kurt Kalata
(August 4, 2005)

 

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