The King of Fighters '98: Ultimate Match

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The King of Fighters '98: Ultimate Match


A remake of the seminal SNK classic, King of Fighters 98, released in 2008 for the PS2. Ultimate Match takes the original game and adds five more characters, a few new EX characters, and tweaks not only the game modes, but the entire cast.

Gameplay Overview

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

Advanced Mode

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 or attacking, but not by blocking or crouching. 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.
  • After this set distance the character is forced to run, the player could continue to hold "f." or "df." to keep running and letting go to neutral, to crouch, or whatever else would stop any further running.
  • 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.

Extra Mode

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.
  • No 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.

Power Gauge

In Extra Mode, you have a power gauge that fills over the course of a fight. It is filled by :

  • Taking damage.
  • Charging.

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.

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)

Cancel System

A normal if cancelable, can be canceled into command normal or a special move. The command normal can be canceled to a special move or Desperation Move, if cancelable and canceled into from a normal. The general rule in KOF is, if you do a command normal without canceling into it, it is not cancelable. Command normals have certain properties associated with them, such as hard knockdown, overhead, etc. Most command normals lose these properties when they are canceled into. For example, Takuma's f.B is an overhead if executed on it's own, but if you cancel it from say, a Crouch B, then it loses the overhead property. Command normals can also gain some properties if canceled into. For example, Yashiro's f.A comes out much faster if canceled into than if done by itself.
There are exceptions to the above rules. Mary's b./f.A is cancelable to Desperation Moves even if not canceled into. Her b./f.B is cancelable to special moves and Desperation Moves, even if not canceled into. In addition, even if you cancel into it, the move still hits low on the second hit.
General Flow of Attack Strings:
  • Normal > Special
  • Just like any other fighting game
  • Normal > Command Normal > Special
  • It's here that Command Normals "generally" lose their specific properties such overheads or knockdown but gain the ability to cancel into a special move.
  • Normal > Command Normal > Desperation Move
  • Instead of canceling into a special, one cancels into a Desperation Move
  • Command Normal
  • Generally command normals can not cancel into specials and Desperation moves, there are exceptions but that requires experimentation and discovery by the player.
  • Normal > Command Normal
  • This could be used as a string just to bait out a Guard Cancel Roll or just to pressure and leave it at this point in the string to set up for something else. Another reason to end at the command normal is "delay cancel" into the command normal from the normal move. This still cancels the initial normal move while preserving the special properties of the command normal at the cost of being able to cancel out of it. Further explained below:
  • Delayed Command Normals: As mentioned before, most command normals have different properties depending on whether they have been canceled into or not. If you cancel a normal in the last cancelable frames, into a command normal, it will come out as if it wasn't canceled into at all. Characters that have command normals that can be late canceled and have practical uses would be Kim's f.B (retains the overhead property, and can be Max mode canceled into run up combo), Kusanagi's f.B (the properties of this move when not canceled into it are much better than if canceled), Ryo's f.A (high priority and retains the overhead property). Generally if it isn't an overhead, then the delayed cancel technique isn't really of value.

Practical Tricks & Glitches

  • Fuzzy Defense: In 2D FTGs, blocking patterns can be useful when dealing with standard high/low strings off a jump in. The hop > high/throw/low mixup might appear overwhelming at first, but we can deal with a majority of these with one simple pattern. When defending against a hop first hold Back in anticipation of a jumping attack, then press Back C~D late or as they're landing, then hold Down Back. When done correctly, you'll enter blockstun against a jumping attack, throw or tech if they did an empty hop into a throw, and if you blocked their jump-in you switch to low blocking.
  • Fuzzy Breaking: Fuzzy Defense in KOF isn't perfect. Empty hopping into a command grab demolishes the technique. Another method is to land a deep jump in and then go into an overhead immediately: K's f.B is unsafe on block, but it's practically unblockable from this setup. Mature's j.B is a monster for high/low 50/50s since it can be timed to hit once or twice before she goes for a low. A final option exists for every character: space a hop so that it lands just outside of throw range so that they must correctly react to an empty hop into a low.
  • Advanced CD Counters I - Option Select Tech: CD Counters are often difficult to punish, but when C+D is pressed in anticipation it's likely you'll whiff an attack. When standing, this results in whiffing a (usually) slow CD attack, and when crouching a cr.C comes out. Empty hopping into a throw is a common solution to bait panicked turtles, but by always inputting C+D > b.C~D both throw techs are buffered in case a whiffed counter attempt is thrown. Normal throws are only untechable as a roll punish, so it's definitely always worth reducing the risk of being thrown, even while attacking.
  • Advanced CD Counters II - Anti-Air: Some characters have difficulty anti-airing while in the corner, especially when dealing with deep full jumps. While jumps can be read and escaped by running forward, rolling (high risk, low reward), walking under and DPing or meatying with a low (high risk, high reward), one particularly advantageous strategy is to walk out of the corner, forcibly causing a cross up, then CD Countering as an anti-air. For one meter, this can safely net a knockdown plus corner spacing.
  • Running Instant Throws: There are a few tricks that can be used to be able to execute running grabs with no delay and twitching. The first thing to note is that, when you hit ff to run, even if you just tap it and then try to stop yourself (either by holding back or trying to crouch), your character will still move a small distance forward. You can use this time to buffer part of the throw motion and then hold forward after it such that you do not lose your running stance.
  • hcb f.+P/K - Start your run with f.f. and immediately input hcb then forward again. If done right, you will store the hcb f+P motion and continue running with no twitching. Then when in range, hit the attack button. Doing it this way will allow you to run up about 3/4 screen and grab your opponent with no flinch.
  • hcbx2+P/K - Input hcb, then start your run with f.f. and input hcb+P when you are in range. Generally you will not be able to run as far as if you were using the hcb f shortcut, because the game has to store the initial hcb motion before the run as well.
  • hcf+P/K - This one is fairly easy but one thing to remember is to let go of the directions momentarily during your run, and then inputting hcf+P/K, or else you will get a dp+P/K coming out. With enough practice, you can input it such that there is no noticeable pause right before throwing.
  • f. or b.+C/D - These are tricky but pretty useful once you get them down. You can't actually do a normal throw if you are in running animation. Therefore, you have to hit b.+C/D during your run in such a way that you throw the moment your character stops running. Do it too fast and you'll just get a Standing C or D because your character might still be in the very small recovery state from stopping the run. Do it too slow and there will be a noticeable pause after your run, which you would like to minimize. Practice this a lot.
  • Wakeup Crouching/Standing "Glitch": It is harder to hop/jump over a standing character than a crouching character, for obvious reasons, and some characters simply cannot hop over standing characters. The strange thing is, if the opponent was knocked down while standing, and even before the opponent gets up, you try to hop over them, the game won't allow you to. It's as if there is an invisible wall (precisely the height of what the opponent's height is if he were standing up) that is blocking you from doing so, even though the opponent hasn't stood up yet. However, if you knocked down the opponent while they were crouching, and then tried to hop over them before they would get up, you would be able to do so.
  • Therefore, the state of the opponent right before they were knocked down, has an effect on whether you would be able to hop/jump over them right before they get up. This can lead to some very dangerous setups with certain characters that score knockdowns, and the player that is getting knocked down needs to pay attention to what their state was right before they got knocked down.
  • An example of such a setup is Orochi Yashiro's hcf+K. If the opponent is standing when they get hit by it, and Yashiro super jumps immediately from that position, he will not switch sides. If the opponent was crouching and Yashiro super jumps the same way as before, he will switch sides. So, the dangerous setup would be to do close D into combo, after landing from the super jump.
  • Not many characters have the ability to do this reliably. The character will need a move that cannot be recovery rolled, and gives you enough time to be able to time a jump over them such that you land just as they get up.
  • Jump Facing the Wrong Way Glitch: There is a glitch that allows your character to jump facing the wrong way (for example, jumping forwards towards the opponent, while facing away from them. After rolling through/jumping over the opponent, hold down for a moment, then immediately jump into whatever jump attack.
  • Instant Grabs While Back is Turned Glitch: If a character wakes up with a reversal one-frame grab while their back is facing the wrong way, it will always whiff. This also applies if a grappler is jumping over you (to switch sides) and does a one-frame grab immediately upon landing. The glitch doesn't work with delayed grabs such as Daimon's dp + K.


  • Controls and basic notation of KOF in general.

Joystick Notation

                    .- 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.

Motion Abbreviations

  • qcf - 236 - Quarter circle forward/Hadouken/Fireball motion - In one smooth motion move to down -> down-forward -> forward.
  • qcb - 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.
  • [x] - Charge - Hold the given direction (usually back/down) for around 1 second, before moving to the next command (usually forward or up with a button input.) Another form of charging is holding down a button or buttons and releasing the button/s after a period of time to do a specific attack. The x in the example is the input of a direction or button that needs to be charged.
  • tk - 2369 - Tiger Knee Motion - qcf, then move to up-forward.

Attack Notation

  • 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.
  • ss. - Side Step
  • DM - Desperation Move, a.k.a. Chinese for Super.
  • SDM - Super Desperation Move
  • QM - Quick Max


Welcome to the 59 playable, tournament viable characters. Hold the Select Button as you select certain characters to use their alternate version (Orochi team, EX/Ura characters). The highlighted icon changes and indicates that the character is the alternate version. Boss characters such as Goenitz, Omega Rugal, Orochi Leona, Orochi Iori, and Orochi are banned from standard tournament play.

Heroes Team Fatal Fury Team Art of Fighting Team Ikari Team Psycho Soldier Team Woman Fighters Team Kim Team
Orochi Team '97 Special Team Yagami Team Master Team American Sports Team Edit Team '96 Boss Team
EX/Ura Characters
Single Entry

Rugal Bernstein