King of Fighters XIII has been out at Arcade Infinity for about a month already and I was only able to play it three times, but spent more time watching better players than me do work. Once you see the game in action at first glance, it is a beautiful looking 2D fighting game with great backgrounds and sprites for the characters. KOF XII was a start of a new beginning for the franchise and established some foundations like the graphics style seen above while retaining that KOF flavor we have seen over the years with the gameplay. The basics were there for the fighting, but it just needed a bit more to be a deeper fighting game again, which KOF XIII improved on significantly. In addition, the roster got better adding in franchise favorites that were missing in XII ranging from Yuri, Mai, K', Kula, and more. In a nutshell, King of Fighters XIII is what XII could of been, but it looks like SNK Playmore needed a game to reboot things over before going crazy again, which is the case here.
In my playtime with KOF XIII, I haven't grasped some of the newer gameplay additions yet to the game since XII as I relied on tactics I knew from that game rocking my team of Ash, Kim, and Andy. Speaking of Ash, there is actually a story this time around with XIII revolving around her as some evil version of her is the last boss of the game and in typical KOF/SNK fashion, she is tough to defeat being cheap like no other. Along with everything from KOF XII other than the removal of the gimmicky critical counter system, KOF XIII's core fighting remains the same adding in EX special moves a la Street Fighter IV where you both press both punches and kicks along with the direction to execute. Super specials remain the same, but the dream-like supers from XI make a return that sort of remind you of the ultras seen in SF4 even though not as climatic. There is also a drive cancel-like maneuver when you cancel a special move into another special move such as Ash's Flash Kick-like special to her charging hand as an example. The guard gauge is pretty self-explanatory, but also characters enable a white glow to continue combos almost like custom combos seen in Street Fighter, but for a short time. These combos are basically the big damage ones similar to critical counter combos in XII. In traditional KOF fashion, execution is still key especially there are motions for certain moves that are fairly uncommon for the casual fighting game player, but if you know SNK fighting games, you should be used to this by now.
So far, I have been enjoying King of Fighters XIII despite my limited time with it at the arcade. Hopefully, I can come by that place and play around with it more learning the new stuff other than getting owned by players that are already good at the game as seen in the videos. If so, maybe a more detailed hands-on blog will come soon if I spend more time with the game even though I'm still at Arcade Infinity playing Super Street Fighter IV mostly when I'm there. I think XIII is a worthy addition to the franchise and way better than XII easily, so I hope more people get into the game more by the time it comes out on consoles soon as the fighting is more deeper now that SNK Playmore is able to get the ball rolling after how bare-bones XII was. In the meantime, enjoy the videos of high-level gameplay demonstrating the new additions.