The King of Fighters 2003

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INTRODUCTION

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The dawn of a new chapter in the King of Fighters legacy and the 3rd saga for the famous SNK fighting series. King of Fighters 2003 was developed in-house by SNK-Playmore (unlike King of Fighters 2001 and 2002, which were done by EOLITH Co.). The game marked the beginning of the new saga, the Neo-Orochi saga, and featured the biggest gameplay tweak in the history of the series. For the first time ever, KoF matches were governed not by team competitions of one-on-one fights, but rather 3-on-3 tag matches (though, the home version of KoF 2003 did feature the traditional 3-on-3 team matches as well as singles fights). Finally players could freely swap between their team's characters on the fly and even perform tag combos (as well as designate a leader whom would be able to perform a super move that is exclusive to the team leader). This gameplay element would also be found in The King of Fighters XI and appears to be the new standard of team gameplay in the KoF series.

Story

The fighting competition of the highest standards, on the greatest scale in the world - "The King of Fighters." Here on this stage Rugal was defeated, the Orochi were contained and sealed away, and the mighty conglomerate NESTS was taken down. A myriad of unfolding dramas. Yet these were always hidden behind some sort of thick veil or other, remaining out of the public eye. Even with such a checkered history, the opening of this year's King of Fighters was decided on. The sponsor of the competition was, yet again, a mysterious personage, and owing to the circumstances, various suppositions traveled through assorted lands like wildfire. But in spite of all the hubbub, one veteran contestant after another made their intentions to enter the competition known. Upon verification that numerous well-known fighters had entered the competition, the heretofore discreet media coverage of the event shifted into 24/7 overdrive. With the announcement of the inception from this KOF tournament of the new "multi-shift" rule, allowing competitors to freely tag off during battles, the competition developed into a social phenomenon and monopolized discussions around the world. Newspapers and magazines put together feature articles almost on a weekly basis while ersatz critics pounded their desks and made impassioned commentary on TV day after day about this rule, which simultaneously required a speedy execution of the match and a unified team strategy. "There is still an awesome bunch of fearsome contestants in this world." Gato, Tizoc, Duo Lon, Shen Woo...and Ash Crimson. What made their names more and more familiar via the Internet was, without doubt, this moment of uproar concerning the present KOF. Will these contestants be able to become the new stars capable of shaking up the KOF tournament, or maybe...?

And during these crazy days, the preparations steadily went along. The venues of local competitions were determined, the schedules were completed, and the spectators moved from one location of the preliminary matches to another. To create the atmosphere of a true street fight, venues were established in city centers, the events of the competition were broadcasted live on giant screens, and various stadiums scaled to hold tens of thousands of people were procured in cities throughout the world during the period of the tournament.

December, 2003. The time has come. This year, the curtain rises once again.

Game Versions

  • Arcade
  • Neo・Geo
  • PlayStation 2
  • Xbox
  • PlayStation Network

The PlayStation Network version is the same as the PlayStation 2 version. Both the PlayStation 2, Xbox and PlayStation Network version include arranged soundtrack, 3D backgrounds, access to all boss characters, and an arranged mode, that changes the game balance. Although I am not sure what exactly are the arranged mode differences, it has come to my attention that controls have been improved, since buffers have become much more viable. Leona's famous buffer combo [qcf,u+D,hcb+P], which was not executable through buffer in the arcade release, is then possible. It does not fix some bugs, though. The Xbox release also included a color edit mode, and an online mode thanks to the Xbox Live.

MECHANICS

| Health Bar

The health bar includes 3 bars atop the screen, on both the left side(P1) and the right side(P2). A player loses when all of their 3 bars reach zero, meaning all of their 3 characters are down.

| Power Bar

The super bar is the bar on the bottom of the screen, on both the left side(P1) and the right side(P2). You will need power gauges from the super bar in order to use desperation moves[DM], leader desperation moves[LDM], guard cancel roll[GCR], guard cancel attack[GCA] and also multi-shift attacks[MSA]. This time, the power bar starts at 3 gauges, which is also the initial limit. If you lose a character, you can charge up to 4 gauges, and if you lose two characters, you can charge up to 5 gauges. The power gauge charges as you hit, gets hit by attacks, or make use of some special moves.

| Walk

Hold forward or backward to make your character walk. This is used to get close to the opponent more safely or strategicaly, since you can just block anytime, and you don't have the risk to activate a hyper hop/super jump by accident, in case you are planning to hop/jump. There are different animations to the character's walk, and some of them walk faster or slower than others.

| Run

Tap forward twice, and hold forward on the second. This is used to get close to the opponent fast, but upon running, there is a "cooldown" period until you can block again, which makes running risky. If you try to hop or jump while running, a hyper hop or super jump will be activated, instead. There are different animations to the character's run, and the speed may vary; Mai, for instance, run very fast, but Tizoc runs really slow; Malin can walk really fast, but she is slow while running. Also, some characters can shorten their hurtboxes while running, such as Gato and Iori, by lowering their bodies. With this, they can go under some attacks; this type of run is useful for some circunstances, such as running under the opponent, or running under King's qcf+P.

| Back Dash

Tap backwards twice to make your character backdash. There are different animations to the character's run. Some backdashes are faster, and some go further.

| Roll

Press A+B to roll. While rolling, you become invincible to attacks for a short period, and then you will turn vulnerable at the recovery, so be careful. You can roll forward or backwards.

| Hop / Hyper Hop

Tap up, up-back, or up-forward to hop, and by pressing down before, you can hyper hop, which goes further than a normal hop. Some character's hop go high enough to hop over mid-height projectiles, and Duolon's hop can even go over DM projectiles. In this game, you can also neutral hop, by taping down~up, which will result in you being able to use a neutral jump attack in case you press an attack button, even though you are using a hop.

| Jump / Super Jump

Hold up, up-back or up-forward to jump, and by pressing down before, you can super jump, which goes further than a normal jump.

| Triangle Jump

This is the action of jumping off a wall. It happens when, while in the air and close to a wall, up-forward is pressed. The character will jump forward, while mid-air. These are the characters which can triangle jump:

   - Duolon
   - Mai
   - Athena
   - Malin

| Throw

You can throw the opponent by pressing forward or back+C or D close to them. Despite the button you use, there is only one grab; the animation will remain the same. The only difference is which side your opponent will be throw. Throws can be break by pressing the same button used by the opponent to throw; either C or D. There is also an option select that allows you to break despite their choice, by pressing CD together. Refer to the advanced techniques section for more information.

| Air Throw

Some characters can air throw the opponent by pressing any direction except UP, and then pressing punch or kick while mid-AIR. Unlike regular throws, these throws can't be broken. Also, you can option select into air throws. For example, if you are jumping in with Yuri's air D, keep holding forward while you press D; in case the opponent jumps, he will be air throw, while if he remains on the ground, air D will come out. These are the characters who can air throw:

   - Yuri
   - Clark
   - Mai
   - Athena
   - Tizoc [Can air GRAB]

| Attack

There are normal attacks and special attacks. You can attack while crouching, standing or while mid-air, by pressing A[Light Punch], B[Light Kick], C[Hard Punch] or D[Hard Kick]. When you attack very close to the opponent while standing, a "close normal" will be activated, which is an attack that usually activates faster, and in most cases cancelable into special attacks. For some reason, in this game close normals have a shorter range, however, there is also less pushback on guard, meaning attack strings can be extended. There are also special moves, which are specific to the characters. Refer to the character's move list for more information on these.

| CD Attack

Due to the inclusion of shift, there is no universal CD Attack anymore. However some character's CD have morphed into command normals and air specials. These are the characters who can still use it:

   - Terry: df+D
   - Chang: Air f+C
   - Leona: Air CD
   - Billy: df+A
   - Mary: Air CD
   - Athena: f+AC
   - Whip: Air CD

| Whiff cancel

It is not possible to whiff cancel anymore.

| Guard crush

In later games, the guard crush would take but a brief moment, so the only way to hit the opponent would be to cancel the move that guard broke them. This time, when the opponent is guard crush, they will be in a "stun" state for about 1 second, allowing you to follow up with a combo if you can react fast.

| Guard Cancel Roll[GCR]

This is a move that allows you to cancel guard into a roll, by pressing forward or backwards+AB while blocking. It can be used either to save you from a pinch, or to allow you to punish an opponent's attack string. Remember you MUST hold forward or backwards while pressing AB, or else it GCR won't come out.

| Guard Cancel Attack[GCA]

This is a move that allows you to cancel guard into a blowback attack. Unlike in previous games, this time the GCA deals no damage. It can be used to free you from a pressure, or to help you keep the offensive, when the opponent tries to counter through your pressure.

| Shift

This is a new mechanic introduced this year. It allows you to switch characters during the match, by pressing BC or CD. There are two ways to normaly shift: "Normal Shift" is what happnens when you just press BC or CD, and "Multi-Shift" is what happens when you input qcf+BC/CD. In order to learn which character BC or CD is going to call, you must pay close attention to the character list, that can be found under the life bar, and also replicates the order. BC will always call the first available character after the one you are using, and CD will always call the last. Consider your order is composed of Ash, Duolon and Shen, while Ash is in order 1, Duolon is in order 2, and Shen is in order 3. If you are using Ash, pressing BC will shift to Duolon, because after Ash, he is the first character available in the order, and pressing CD will shift to Shen, because he is the last. However, if you are using Duolon or Shen instead, the first character available will be Ash, and then pressing BC will shift to Ash, because he is the first character available in the order. The same way, if you are using Shen, the last character available in the order will be Duolon, and then pressing CD will shift to him instead.

KoF2003Screen3.png

| Multi-Shift Attack Landing

When you use a multi-shift attack, the incoming character will lock on the opponent and try to hit them with an attack. Depending on the character, they might land on the opponent's front or back. Refer to the character's page for more information.

| Leader

This year introduces the leader system, and teams are now composed of a leader and two members. The leader will always be the first character you choose when picking your team, and during the match, the leader will be highlighted by a blue life bar, unlike the members, whose life bars are orange. The leader gains access to a 2 stock super, known as LDM, which means "Leader Desperation Move". The characters have different effects for their LDM. There are many types: Install, OTG, Unblockable, Command Grab, Projectile, Anti-air and Combo types. Refer to the individual character's pages for more information.

NOTATION

7 8 9
4 5 6 = N
1 2 3


  • f - F.png - Forward - Tilt stick forward/towards the opponent.
  • b - B.png - Backward/Back - Tilt stick backward/away from the opponent.
  • u - U.png - Up - Tilt stick upwards.
  • d - D.png - Down - Tilt stick downwards.
  • qcf - Qcf.png - Quarter circle forward/Hadouken/Fireball - Tilt stick d, df, f.
  • qcb - Qcb.png - Quarter circle backward - Tilt stick d, db, b.
  • hcf - Hcf.png - Half circle forward - Tilt stick b, db, d, df, f.
  • hcb - Hcb.png - Half circle backward - Tilt stick f, df, d, db, b.
  • dp - Dp.png - Dragon punch - Tilt stick f, d, df.
  • rdp - Rdp.png - Rear dragon punch - Tilt stick b, d, db
  • A - LP - Light Punch
  • B - LK - Light Kick
  • C - HP - Hard Punch
  • D - HK - Hard Kick


  • cr. = crouching
  • cl. = standing close
  • j. = jump
  • sj. = super jump
  • h. = hop
  • hh. = hyper-hop

Combo Notation

  • ~ - link
  • [S] - Super Cancel
  • [Number] - Means your attack must go to this number of hits
  • / - Means you can use any of these moves.

Abbreviations

  • [L] = Leader
  • DM = Desperation Move
  • LDM = Leader Desperation Move
  • GCR = Guard Cancel Roll
  • GCA = Guard Cancel Attack
  • MSA = Multi-Shift Attack
  • MSC = Multi-Shift Combo

ADVANCED TECHNIQUES

| Running Throw

This is a technique that allows you to cancel a run into a throw. Run and get close to the opponent, then imediately hold back for a brief moment(less than 1 second) and then press C or D. Unlike previous games, where you could press back+C or D, now you must hold back for a brief moment for it to work. Think of it as an special move, where you press back~C/D in a single motion.

| Throw Invincibility

In this game, throws can win against close attacks more easily. This is mainly notable during wake up, as a wake up throw will defeat a meaty attack.

| Throw Break Option Select

You can option select a throw break with C+D in order to break either a punch or kick throw. Just be careful, since C+D is also the command for the shift, so if you press it when you are not being throw, your character will procceed to execute a normal shift, and let you open.

| Guard Cancel Roll Basic Option

As a general rule, every string ending in a projectile that lets the character standing still can be GCR and punished. Since projectile strings make a very important part of some character's gameplay, such as Athena's [f+AC, qcb+P], it is very important you know this, so you can limit their choices, since there is a risk of you GCRing on them.

| Counter Wire

Recurring from The King of Fighters 2001, this mechanic has been even more limited this time around. Although some moves have the ability to automatically counter wire, such as Hinako's LDM or Tizoc's Hercules Throw, they don't actually counter hit. Despite the method, every counter wire allows juggles. Moves which counter wire on counter hit include K's f+A, Maxima's qcb+P, Shen's qcfx2+P and Ralf's qcfx2+AC(this one does not allow any useful juggles). You can see how to do it at their respective character pages.

| OTG(On/Off The Ground)

This is a technique that allows a character to hit the opponent when they have already landed on the ground after a knockdown. Characters who have been found to have this ability include Ryo, Yuri, Terry, Kim, Benimaru, Daimon and Malin. Refer to the character's page for more information.

| Normal-Shift Vulnerability

When a player normal shifts by using BC or CD, they get vulnerable before leaving, meaning they can be freely hit, and their shift will be stopped. If their shift succeeds, the summoned character will come in, and although during this phrase they will be invincible, upon touching the ground they will also be vulnerable for about 1 frame, meaning anything you use will freely hit them. For example, if a character shifts in front of Iori, and Iori uses his Ya Otome[qcf,hcb+P] when the summoned character is falling, then the incoming character will be unable to block it.

| Multi-Shift Lock Off

When the opponent uses a multi-shift attack, their incoming character will lock on your character, and reach you with an attack, even if the first hit of their MSA whiffs. If you use a normal-shift just after the first hit of the MSA misses, then their incoming character will not be able to track you, and land somewhere else.

| Multi-Shift Punish

The lock on attack used by the opponent's incoming character can be punished by your character's attacks. Refer to the character's page for more information.

| Down-Shift Air Throw

When your character is defeated(Down), your next character will be send exactly to where the previous character was. If a character is defeated while backturned, that means the incoming character will be send across the screen, possibly passing through the opponent. If the opponent jumps, then the incoming character, while still on air flying to where his defeated teammate was, can air throw the opponent, even though it is not possible to attack.

| Juggle Loop:

Some characters have the skill to juggle the opponent after they have already been hit on air, resulting in a combo. It is something similar to the juggle system found in The King of Fighters 2001 and The King of Fighters XI(Arcade). The characters who have been found to have this skill are Gato, Mary, Kim, Tizoc, Ralf, Whip, Chizuru and Adelheid. Refer to the character's page for more information.

| Succession-Shift

When a character, which is not the last, gets defeated while blocking, the next character will be summoned right away. As a result, it is possible that when he comes in, the move used to defeat his comrade is still active, and so it can be punished. For example, if Kyo uses his qcfx2+AC LDM, which is also unGCRable, to defeat a character on cheap damage but defeats them on the first frames, Kyo will still be on it when the next character comes in through Succession-Shift, and will be punished. Unlike Normal-Shift, Succession-Shift makes the opponent invincible upon landing, so they can choose to either block the move who defeated their partner, or also use an invincible move on their own to punish it, in case it is still active.

SECRETS

Route Select

  • There are 2 routes in the story mode, which also result in a different ending. The "bad end" route, where you fight Adelheid as the final boss, can be accessed by defeating the Mid-Boss KUSANAGI without a MSA, DM or SDM, while the "Good End" route, where you fight Mukai as the final boss, can be accessed by defeating KUSANAGI with a MSA, DM or SDM.

Play as KUSANAGI

  • At the character select screen, input this command: qcb,ub,hcf,uf, and without letting go of uf, press A,B,C or D.

It MUST be input as a special command, without letting go, but there is no need to rush, you can input the command very slowly if you want, but it is very important that you don't let it go. You must keep holding the directional at all times, until you press a button to select the character.

Play as Chizuru

  • At the character select screen, input this command: u,ub,b,db,qcf,uf,f,df,d,db, and without letting go of db, press A,B,C or D.

It MUST be input as a special command, without letting go, but there is no need to rush, you can input the command very slowly if you want, but it is very important that you don't let it go. You must keep holding the directional at all times, until you press a button to select the character.

DEBUG DIP SWITCHES

  • There are disabled features which can be enabled by using the dip-switches. These are the effects:

NOTE: The first digit corresponds to the row, and the second digit to the number(appearing as 0).

   - |Dip 1-4: Activates collision boxes
   - |Dip 1-5: Freezes clock
   - |Dip 1-6/7: "Change" time recharges fast, plus invincibility for both players
   - |Dip 2-3: Show inputs on screen
   - |Dip 2-7: Zoom in/out effect. Get away from the opponent to see.
   - Boss Code: Enable Developer Mode(Glitches online; use the Uni-Bios Enable Boss code instead).

BUGS

| Ash's pseudo Sans-Culotte:

This is a glitch that allows you to have two A Ventoses[b~f+A] on screen. Throw an A Ventose from fullscreen while buffering a second. After it connects with the opponent or passes through, throw a second Ventose, while buffering a third, and then you will be able to throw the third before the second connects to the opponent, having 2 Ventoses on screen. As long as you keep buffering, you can keep throwing Ventoses. The glitch will be cancelled as soon as you let go of b or db.

| K's Unblockable Ein Trigger:

This is a glitch that will make K's Ein Trigger[qcf+P] unblockable. Uppon knocking down an opponent, use qcf+A/C as a meaty, and cancel into b+B/D to teleport with Blackout. The game will consider K' not to be attacking, and until Blackout ends, Ein Trigger will turn unblockable. On corner, an unblockable A Ein Trigger will allow K' to combo into his qcfx2+K DM or a MSA.

| Tizoc's gravitation:

Tizoc's throw can be followed by a pursuit attack, dfx2+C. If the pursuit attack is input just as Tizoc holds the opponent(before he actually executes the move), the follow up will come out, and the opponent will spin in the air as if the throw were still undergoing. Tizoc recovers first, and if fast enough, can grab the opponent with a free hcb+P or hcbx2+P.

| Jhun's Levitation:

This is a glitch that allows Jhun to levitate until he jumps or gets hit. Use an air dw+B, and just after the hit, when Jhun is starting to recover, try rolling forward or backwards. As a result, Jhun will roll in the air, and stay there. In this state, Jhun's attacks will not push him back, allowing him to use a infinite corner combo with dw.A. However, in this state, Jhun CANNOT block, making him vulnerable to any attacks. Also, if Jhun tries a second dw+B while levitating and it whiffs, Jhun will not be able to fall, resulting in him being stuck until hit by the opponent.

| The Super Cancel Levitation:

Similar to Jhun, this is a glitch that allows other characters to levitate. As far as I know, it works for Joe and Iori. It happens when you try to super cancel Joe's dp+D on the first hit, or Iori's after the second hit while the opponent is high in the air, in a way that the camera will follow them, such as after a jump in or a multi-shift combo. The super cancel comes out but out of time, resulting in the levitation.

| Leona's "Heart Attack"'

If you hit an opponent's character which is not their last with Leona's Earring Bakudan 2, and manages to defeat this very character backturned before the earring explodes, it will be inherited by their next character.

TIERS

WARNING: Due to the lack of competitive play in over a decade, the only tier list that can be found everywhere is very outdated:http://www.geocities.ws/psychochronic2004/Tiers-Archive/tiers-snk.txt

I have built an updated tier list based on my own experience of years of competitive play on FightCade, which I humbly defend as more acurate than the old tier list. It mightly slightly change over the years, as new data about the characters and the game is found.

The King of Fighters 2003 Tier List by Ariasvil
Tier Character(s)
Banned Mukai, Maki
God Duolon, Gato, Adelheid
Top Iori, Daimon, Ash, Malin
High King, Ryo, Billy, K', Yamazaki
Medium Yuri, Shingo, Whip, Terry, Kyo, Mary, Kim, Jhun, Benimaru, Shen, Clark, Athena, Robert, KUSANAGI, Hinako
Low Griffon Mask/Tizoc, Ralf, Maxima, Joe, Leona, Chizuru, Chang, Mai

TOP 3 TEAMS

1st: Duolon, Gato, Iori[L]

 - No disavantaged match-up.
 - Potential Okizemes.
 - Good teamwork everywhere.
 - Medium cost Multi-Shift Combos.
 - Difficult Leader 100% combo.

2nd: Duolon, Gato, Daimon[L]

 - Only a few disavantaged match-ups.
 - Powerful Okizemes.
 - Potential teamwork midscreen, good on corner.
 - High cost Multi-Shift Combos.
 - No Leader 100% combo.

3rd: Duolon, Gato, K'[L]

 - Many disavantaged match-ups.
 - Weak Okizemes.
 - Good teamwork only on corner.
 - High cost Multi-Shift Combos.
 - Easy Leader 100% combo.
 - Includes an unblockable glitch

CHARACTER DATA

Crouch Height

Extra high: The Griffon/Tizoc

High: Chang, Maxima, Daimon, Whip

Medium: Duolon, Shen, Terry, Joe, Ryo, Robert, Kim, Jhun, Ralf, Clark, Kyo, Gato, Billy, King, Mary, Shingo, K'

Low: Ash, Yuri, Leona, Iori, Mai, Benimaru, Yamazaki, Athena, Hinako, Malin

  • Some moves will connect on a certain height, while not on others. This is mainly notable during the application of attack strings, such as KUSANAGI's hop dw+C crossup, which will always whiff on low crouchers.
  • In this game, most crossups fail on normal characters; those can be blocked even if the opponent is blocking the wrong way. However, for characters of high and extra high height, they will work normally, just as in previous games; except for Whip, who is character specific.

Multi-Shift Attack Frame Data

2 Frames - Iori

4 Frames - Yuri, Kim, Billy, Athena, Maki, Adelheid

5 Frames - Ash, Duolon, Shen, Terry, Ralf, Kyo, Chizuru, Hinako, K', Maxima, KUSANAGI

6 Frames - The Griffon/Tizoc, Robert, Mary, Daimon, Malin, Mukai

7 Frames - Ryo, Gato

8 Frames - King, Shingo, Whip

9 Frames - Chang

10 Frames - Jhun, Benimaru

11 Frames - Leona, Yamazaki

12 Frames - Mai

13 Frames - Clark

14 Frames - Joe

  • Every MSA over 10 frames is not combo-able from an air attack; except for Mai, who can combo only from her air dw+A, due to extended hitstun.
  • Beginning from 10 frames, every MSA has a lot of invincibility; except for Jhun and Leona.

CHARACTERS

Protagonist/Hero Team

Garou/Fatal Fury Team

Kyokugenryuu/Art of Fighting Team

Korea Team

Ikari Warriors Team

Outlaw Team

Women Fighters Team

Benimaru Team

Schoolgirls Team

K' Team

3 Sacred Treasures Team

Edit Entry

Mid-Boss

Final Bosses

LINKS

  • The King of Fighters 2003 Discord Group, "Etude of Revolution~RII" : https://discord.gg/Y2cZgjD - Reunites players for netplay and discussion.