The King of Fighters '98: The Slugfest
Following the conclusion of the "Orochi" saga (marked by the '97 tournament), SNK decided to release a new "dream match" (meaning the characters in the game are not bound by a storyline; evidenced by the fact that the Orochi team was still alive for this tournament). The gameplay featured the same selectable super meter system as KoF '97. In addition, SNK added the "Advantage" system that allowed the losing team to earn an advantage each round (extra stocks for Advanced mode or a shorter charge bar for Extra mode). Many consider The King of Fighters '98 to be their favorite KoF game due to its play mechanics and large roster. A remake of '98, dubbed "The King of Fighters '98: Ultimate Match", was released for the Playstation 2 in 2008. It added a new Ultimate style, new stages, and many new characters that were missing in the orignal '98. For all of this extra stuff, check below under the "Game Versions" section and click "Playstation 2".
- KOF 98 has two systems to choose from, Advanced and Extra. Those coming from Capcom vs. SNK 2 background, for example, should be familiar with the "Groove Systems" that Capcom vs. SNK 2 has. The Advanced and Extra systems reflect the ability to choose subsystem mechanics akin to Capcom vs. SNK 2 and are quite comparable to "N Groove" and "S Groove" respectively. Advanced is generally the best system to choose in this iteration of KOF 98 with Extra mode only giving some benefits to particular characters for very specific reasons.
- Block - Hold back. While blocking, you take no damage from normals and a single pixel-per-hit when blocking special/desperation moves. You can also block in the air while jumping up or back. Ground normals cannot be air guarded.
- Air Block - For Advanced Mode: Neutral Jump or Back Jump and hold any backwards direction. For Extra Mode: Full Jump in any direction and hold any backwards direction. This type of defense only works against special moves, desperation moves and against any aerial attack that isn't an air throw. Any grounded normal attack will hit any airborne opponent. The only known exception is if the character is already air-blocking and the opponent lands before the character does and attacks with a grounded normal attack. In this instance, the airborne character will maintain an air block. At certain heights, a character cannot air block until the character reaches a higher altitude.
- Short Hop - Performed by quickly pressing up-back, up-forward, or simply just up and then inputting a neutral or any non-upward motion. Performing a short hop can be difficult at first but being able to select from any jump option at a moment's notice is absolutely vital to KOF. One trick is to quickly move from an upward direction to down in order to avoid holding up for too long and causing a jump. Short hops are fast and possibly the least vulnerable of all jump types (the hopping player moves forward under 1/3 of the screen's length) which make them difficult to react to when under pressure. Using air-to-ground attacks from short hops is a quick way to keep the opponent blocking while gaining frame advantage afterward. Once used to seeing short hops, they become easier to anti-air when an opening presents itself. Short hops are great for baiting and then punishing sweeps. This forms part of the basic RPS system of KOF where hops beat low attacks, standing attacks defeat hops, and low attacks win against standing attacks.
- Hyper Hop - performed by first pressing any downward direction, quickly pressing up-back or up-forward, and then releasing to a non-upward directional input. They can also be done by running and inputting a short hop. Note that hyper hops cannot be done neutrally upward. Hyper hops are even faster and travel further than normal "Short Hops."
- Jump - The option that should be the most familiar with most fighting game players. Jumps in KOF are performed the same way as in any game: just hold up-back, up, or up-forward. Jumps reach a high vertical height which suits them for maneuvering over large specials or challenging the other player in the air. Jumping carries a longer aerial hang time which gives the other player more substantial time to anti-air or air-to-air. Additionally, a normal jump covers the same horizontal distance as a hyper hop. Jumps end up getting punished more often than either hop, and so much like in any fighting game the player should have a set reason or strategy in mind before jumping heedlessly.
- Super Jump - Super jumps are done by pressing any downward direction and followed by up-back or up-forward. Players cannot super jump neutrally upward. A super jump travels a bit further than 1/2 of the screen length. Combined with the widescreen ratio this creates more safety from fullscreen against being jumped on. A super jump travels faster and further than a standard jump although tall vertical height of the jump arc makes this the easiest of all air options to anti-air.
- Back Dash or Back Step - Tap back twice quickly. During a back dash, you can perform air command normals and air special moves. Using a command normal will cause the trajectory and recovery period of the back dash to change.
- Guard Cancel Strike (CD counter) - Press C and D simultaneously while guarding a move. This uses one power stock.
- Taunt - Press Start
Subsystems specifically for Advanced Mode
- Run - Tap forward twice quickly. Hold the second tap to keep running. In KOF 98, when you simply tap "f., f." to run, you will run a certain distance before you stop. This can be canceled by jumping, crouching, or attacking, but not by blocking. You can use this period to buffer moves such as command throws. For example with Ralf or Clark, you can tap "f., f.", then do the hcf motion for their command grab while you are moving forward, without having to keep holding forward over that first couple character spaces.
- Also, there is a small recovery when you release f. to stop a run. When running in to attack, keep holding forward if you're going to do a standing attack, or move to df. for a crouching attack. This makes attacking from a run seamless. You can also hold d/f to keep charge a charge-down special move while running.
- Roll forward - Press A and B simultaneously. Rolls are invulnerable from the very start, and vulnerable at the end. You can be thrown out of rolls as well. Since they are invincible at startup, you can use rolls as a wakeup 'reversal'. But unlike in later KOF games, you cannot mash the input. In KOF 98, if you are not fully recovered from something and try to input A+B, you will get a standing A attack. Using that as a reversal will get out hit on counter, so be accurate with your roll timing.
- Roll backward - Press back and A and B simultaneously.
- Recovery roll (tech roll) - Press A and B simultaneously as you are touching the ground from getting knocked down. Some moves/knockdowns are not rollable. You can mix this up with staying on the ground to mess with your opponents setups on wakeup.
- Throw break - Press back/forward with any button immediately after you are thrown. Some mashable throws are not breakable, and instead you can mash all the buttons and directions to lessen the damage and get out faster.
- Guard Cancel Roll (Emergency Roll) - Press A and B simultaneously or while guarding a move (hold back to roll backwards or return to neutral/hold forward to roll forward). This uses one power stock. It's a great tool for punishing specific block strings as you roll and recover before the opponent recovers from the attack that was canceled into. Also a great way for avoiding defeat by chip damage.
- MAX mode activation - Press A, B, and C simultaneously. This will use one power stock and give you a meter that shows you how much time you have left in MAX mode. While in MAX mode you get a large damage bonus (25% increase), more pushback on hit for all attacks, and any Desperation Moves (supers) performed during this time will become Super Desperation Moves, and will take one power stock in addition to the one you used to go into MAX mode. These SDMs are enhanced versions of the normal supers and will do more damage/hits, etc.
Subsystems specifically for Extra Mode
- Dash or Step - Tap forward twice quickly. Similar to forward dashes from other fighting games such as Street Fighter 3 or Capcom vs. SNK 2. The character quickly moves forward while committing to this movement, unable to attack or jump out of it to cancel the momentum. Similar to back dash/back step, a character can cancel a dash into an aerial command attack or an aerial special move that could affect the trajectory and recovery of the dash. For characters such as Kyo, Athena, and Brian, this technique could be used as an offensive option. Dash distance, speed, and recovery times vary between characters.
- Evade - Press A and B simultaneously. With this move you dodge while standing in place and are invincible during the dodge. You can, however, be thrown out of this by any type of throw. In some ways, this is the stationary version of the roll. The exception is that evade doesn't have any vulnerable recovery that could be punished, unlike rolls. The alternative name for evade is also known as "side step."
- Counter Attack - Press P or K during evade. A unique attack perform while evading. It's another way of hitting the opponent with an attack without having to wait for the evade to finish. The drawback is that Counter Attack doesn't have invulnerability and could be hit as it comes out from evade. Counter attack could cancel into special moves and desperation moves.
- Down Evade - Press A and B simultaneously as you are touching the ground from getting knocked down. With this you can recover as soon as you hit the ground after being knocked down. It's the stationary form of recovery roll and also can't be performed in every knockdown situation.
- Throw Escape - You cannot escape any throws in Extra mode. This is one of the biggest flaws of Extra mode that renders it almost useless compared to Advanced mode.
- Guard Cancel Evade - Press A and B simultaneously or while guarding a move. It is the stationary equivalent to Guard Cancel Roll. It may be used to avoid chip damage at the cost of the power gauge or punish specific attack strings.
- Charge Power Gauge - Press and hold A, B, and C buttons. The power gauge will charge for the duration the player holds down these buttons.
In Extra Mode, you have a power gauge that fills over the course of a fight. It is filled by :
- Taking damage.
Once the gauge fills, it says "MAXIMUM" and begins to slowly empty. During this time your body glows/flashes and a multitude of things happen :
- All of your attacks do 50% more damage.
- You may perform a Desperation Move.
- You may perform a Guard Cancel Evade / Strike.
- Doing either of the latter two will drain your gauge and return you to normal.
When you are at 20% or less health, your Life Gauge begins to flash red. During this time, a multitude of things happen:
- You may perform desperation moves freely.
- You may perform Guard Cancel Evades / Strikes freely.
- If your Power Gauge reaches maximum, you may perform Super Desperation Moves. These are the same commands as your standard desperation moves, but they often have different attack animations and do larger amounts of damage to the opponent.
- If your life should increase back above 20% for any reason, you lose all of the benefits of a low Life Gauge.
Team Attitudes and Meter Management
Your team has an effect on the way that the game is played. While selecting your team order, you can hold down the Start button and see three types of faces next to your characters. The three types determine how much meter you get after that character loses, and how likely they are to help you during dizzies and mashable throws.
Red Face (Angry) - After they lose, you will lose 1 power stock. They will never jump on to help you.
White Face (Neutral) - After they lose, you will have the same number of stocks that they lost with. They will jump in to help you sometimes.
Yellow Face (Happy) : This means that the fighter has been put in a team that he enjoys. They will add 1 power stock to your meter when they lose, and they will jump in to hit your opponent when you are dizzy or are in a mashable grab every time, as long as you give them enough time.
When you are selecting the order of your team, take note of the faces. Generally you'll want yellow/happy faces fist or second, and red/angry faces last. Don't let this completely decide what order you use, though. Think about who actually needs meter, the match-ups you will be playing, etc. Note that power stocks only apply to Advanced mode, so that aspect shouldn't affect your order decision when using Extra mode.
When a character is defeated, the winning character regains a small amount of health. In addition, losing a team member gives the losing player an advantage.
In Advanced mode, you can have an extra stock slot after each fighter is lost. The first fighter has a maximum of 4, the second fighter has a maximum of 4, and the last fighter has a maximum of 5.
In Extra mode, your Power Gauge is shortened after each fighter is lost. The first fighter has a full length Power Gauge, the second fighter has one that is 25% shorter than normal, and the third fighter has one that is 50% shorter than normal.
Mechanics and Notes
Some additional things you should know about KOF98.
- Reversals - Reversals in KOF98 work mostly the same as in other games. There isn't a reversal message, but the window is very large (about 5 frames). The main difference between this game and others is that most 'invincible' moves aren't completely invincible. A lot of the time they are only invincible up to the hit, in which case they will trade with meaties. You will have to refer to the character-specific sections concerning which moves do what. Universally speaking, rolls, instant command throws, and super instant command throws can be used as reversals.
- Alternate Guard - This is a technique to avoid being thrown while blocking. First, you must block an attack or be put in blockstun by an attack (ie by it being whiffed close to you). Then you must alternate between back and down-back very quickly. This will keep you in perpetual blockstun and unable to be thrown by any throws, including proximity unblockables. To beat alternate guard, you must be able to hit the opponent by using fast lows/overhead mixups etc. to break their defense. Tactics like repeated/delayed cr.Bs can be hard to alternate guard without thinking.
Another side effect of KOF98's blocking system that you need to be aware of is whiffing jumping attacks into a throw. When you are performing an empty jump, then landing and throwing, you should not perform any attack during the jump. If you do, it will put the opponent into blockstun and your throw will whiff. It is possible for this to work though, if your opponent tries to attack or roll after they are put into blockstun but before the throw, or if they do not attempt to block at all.
- Proximity Unblockables - This is a special type of throw that is exclusive to KOF. Some examples of proximity unblockables are Robert's hcf+K throw, Kensou's dp+P throw or qcf,qcf+P super, or O.Chris's hcf+K throw. Unlike command throws, they can only be performed when close to an opponent who is in a throw-able state (ie in hitstun or not in blockstun). Because of this, it is usually impossible to whiff a proximity unblockable, making them safer in some situations than command throws. You will simply get a normal move if the opponent is not in a throw-able state, or a different command normal/special if you tried to combo into one. On the other hand, they do have startup, and it is possible to trade hits instead of simply throwing. It is also possible to whiff a proximity unblockable if you combo into one in such a way that it pushes the opponent out of range after the proximity unblockable has started. As for rolls, in most cases they will be stopped by a proximity unblockable as if you were a wall.
- Counter-hits - Whenever you interrupt a jumping attack, special move, or super move, you score a counter-hit. This causes a screen flash and a "counter-hit" message to appear. The hit gets a 25% (usually) damage bonus, pushes back further (ala MAX mode hits), and allows you to juggle with another hit if the attack knocks down. For example, if you score a jump CD counter-hit, you can hit the opponent while they are in the air. Other examples are Chang's Ball Swing or A Belly Flop hitting twice on counter.
- Corner Cross-ups - You might have seen in a video or something, someone crossing up another player in the corner after a knockdown. This true corner cross-up ability is only available on the 2P side (ie only available to the player who's life/super bars are on the 2P side).
Although this may seem like an unfair advantage, the 1P side also has it's own corner cross-up ability. Whenever the opponent is knocked down in a back turned state (ie face up, head toward or face down, feet toward), you can perform a pseudo cross-up. Simply jump toward (superjump preferred) their head and time/position a move that has some cross-up ability the same way you would normally perform a cross-up. This must be blocked in the direction away from the corner. In some ways this is more difficult to block than the 2P side bug, because you remain on the same side no matter which direction the move has to be blocked.
- Unblockable Projectiles
Certain moves, most of them command throws, will undo the opponent's blocking status, rendering the projectile unblockable. This is generally used to give the opponent a hard time on wakeup. Use the slow version of the fireball (makes it meatier), then render it unblockable when they do their wakeup. The following is a listing of the known unblockable projectile setups, though not all of them are useful or even usable in every situation that an unblockable would help.
- EX Yuri (fireball > running slap grab)
- Athena (Psycho Ball > Psychic Teleport / Super Psychic Throw)
- Kensou (fireball > bun super)
- Iori (Yami Barai > Kuzu Kaze)
- Takuma (fireball > running knee bash)
- Heidern (Crosscutter > Killing Bringer / Stormbringer)
- Controls and basic notation of KOF 98.
.- up (u) | up-back (u/b) - 7 8 9 - up-forward (u/f) back (b) - 4 5 6 - forward (f) down-back (d/b) - 1 2 3 - down-forward (d/f) | `- down (d)
Primary Note: These numbers can be easily referenced by looking at your keyboard numpad. Think of it as a joystick/controller that is facing to the right. "5" is used to signify "neutral".
Secondary Note: These notations are based on the assumption that the character is on the "Player 1" side of the playing field. These notations remain relative to the character based upon this assumption.
- qcf - 236 - Quarter circle forward/Hadouken/Fireball motion - In one smooth motion move to down -> down-forward -> forward.
- qcf - 214 - Quarter circle backward - In one smooth motion move to down -> down-back -> back.
- hcf - 41236 - Half circle forward - In one smooth motion move to back -> down-back -> down -> down-forward -> forward.
- hcb - 63214 - Half circle backward - In one smooth motion move to forward -> down-forward -> down -> down-back -> back.
- dp - 623 - Dragon Punch motion - In one smooth motion move to forward -> down -> down-forward.
- rdp - 421 - Reverse Dragon Punch motion - In one smooth motion move to back -> down -> down-back.
- Charge - Hold the given direction (usually back/down) for around 1 second, before moving to the next command (usually forward or up a button).
- tk - 2369 - Tiger Knee Motion - qcf, then move to up-forward.
- A - LP - Light Punch
- B - LK - Light Kick
- C - HP - Hard Punch
- D - HK - Hard Kick
- CD - Blow back attack, press C and D simultaneously.
- P - Any punch
- K - Any kick
Other common abbreviations
- j. - Jump/jumping - Press up-back, up, or up-forward.
- nj. - Neutral jump - Referencing specifically for directly upward jump, especially for specific attacks that only occur in this state.
- sj. - Super jump - Tap down, down-back, or down-forward, then quickly press up-back or up-forward.
- sh. - Short hop - Lightly tap up-back, up, or up-forward.
- hh. - Hyper hop - Tap down, down-back, or down-forward, then quickly and lightly tap up-back or up-forward.
- cl. - Close, as in a close normal attack.
- cr. - Crouching, as in a crouching normal attack.
- st. - Standing, as in a far standing normal attack.
- f. - Forward, and relative to the direction the character is facing.
- b. - Back, and relative to the direction the character is facing.
The selection of characters by team formation
Fatal Fury Team
Art of Fighting Team
Ikari Warriors Team
Psycho Soldiers Team
Women Fighters Team
New Faces Team
'97 Special Team Team
American Sports Team
- Kyo Kusanagi (KoF '95-Era)
- Terry Bogard (Real Bout 2-Era)
- Andy Bogard (Real Bout 2-Era)
- Joe Higashi (KoF '94-Era)
- Ryo Sakazaki (KoF '94-Era)
- Robert Garcia (KoF '94-Era)
- Yuri Sakazaki (KoF '94-Era)
- Billy Kane (Real Bout 2-Era)
- Mai Shiranui (Real Bout 2-Era)
- Arcade (MVS)
- Dreamcast (as "Dream Match 1999")
- Neo Geo (AES)
- Neo Geo CD
- Playstation 2 (as "King of Fighters '98: Ultimate Match")
Dune's hitbox data - Not complete, but most of the popular characters are there. The first link for each character is the hitbox data (scroll down in the right frame), then movelist, then additional information.
YouTube - Yes, YouTube! Never forget this as a great resource to see many matches and learn from them.
MoFile - This is the Chinese YouTube basically. You might get a rough connection to there, so try to access during the day when it is late/early night in China. Here are some good accounts for videos to browse: Dove 三台野 鸿牛
Credits and Disclaimers
[KoF 98 tiers] (taken from the latest Tougeki-Special Issue # 4)
A: Kyo, Daimon, Chizuru, Iori
B: Benimaru, Robert, Ralf, Chang, EX Yashiro, Chris, EX Chris
C: EX Kyo, Terry, Joe, Yashiro, Takuma
D: Ryo, Clark, Kensou, Yamazaki, Mary, Mature
E: EX Terry, EX Ryo, Leona, Athena, Chin, Mai , EX Mai, King, Choi, Kim, Shermie, Vice, Shingo, Saishu
F: EX Robert, Yuri, Heavy D
G: Andy, EX Yuri, Billy, Heidern, Brian, Rugal
H: EX Andy, EX Joe, EX Billy, EX Shermie, Lucky