With the release of The King of Fighters XV, the venerable fighting franchise enters its 28th year of kicking butt. In honour of this occasion, Matt was lucky enough to be able to fire off some questions about the franchise to longtime Chief Producer Yasuyuki Oda. You can read all about it below and if you want more info on The King of Fighters XV you can read Matt’s review here:
Interview - Yasuyuki Oda - Chief Producer - The King of Fighters
Matt Hewson: Being the 15th entry in the long-running franchise, how did you approach the design of the game in terms of bringing modern features without alienating the franchise’s dedicated fanbase
Yasuyuki Oda: What we think of each time when we make a sequel is how do we resolve the problems our previous game faced. After that, we consider what new elements we can add. Regardless of whether we change a lot or a little, new problems are bound to be found, so we have to take it very seriously.
Matt: Bringing the franchise to the next generations systems (PS5/Series X) for the first time, was it an easy process or were there unforeseen difficulties with the new systems?
Oda: Since we have experience with XSX from our time developing SAMURAI SHODOWN, we didn’t run into any big problems. PS5 was a new platform for us, but since the game’s base was developed or PS4, we surprisingly didn’t run into any major problems here, either.
Matt: It seems there is a nostalgic desire to see the classic NeoGeo franchises come back. Samurai Showdown was quite successful and there seems to be quite a positive buzz about KOF XV. What do you think makes these classic fighting series so endearing?
Oda: The fighters on the NEOGEO all had really popular characters. I think the reason why these franchises are so loved even today is because they treated the characters well.
Matt: With a history of games spanning way back to Fatal Fury and Art of War all connected to the King of Fighters franchise, how do you choose which fighters make the final roster? Obviously, people like Terry and Andy Bogard are a given, but how do you pick fighters that aren’t perhaps as well known.
Oda: This question is really tough. KOF is a team-battle fighting game, and so clearly each game needs a lot of characters. The catch here is that there have been many new original KOF characters added to the series, and so gradually the amount of characters from other games is destined to shrink. This is something that is really going to cause us grief in the future.
Matt: How are you approaching the story for this entry? Is it along the lines of past KoF titles or are you going down a more cinematic route like a lot of fighting games seem to be doing these days?
Oda: KOF XV has a classic way of telling its story. The way fighting games tell their story has always been a bone of contention, and so moving forward, we’re thinking of a different way to approach this in order to really give it a boost.
Matt: Is esport a focus for the team or is that a secondary consideration?
Oda: Our goal is for the game to make a real splash in the esports scene, and so we have plans to continue supporting the community and their events. The main content a fighting game provides is fighting, pure and simple. So with that in mind, esports is certainly something we take seriously.
Matt: Are there onboarding features in KoF XV for new players, or have you designed this game with existing players in mind?
Oda: There’s a system we implemented that users, new and old, who have a hard time with a certain character, can use to pull off easy combos with. We hope with something like this, new players will be brought into the fandom.
Matt: Who do you think is going to be the most popular new character with players?
Oda: Dolores and Isla seem to be really popular in KOF XV.
Matt: Finally, Of the fifteen KOF titles, which do you think was the most important, most influential for the franchise?
Oda: I’d say KOF ’96, as it’s what the current system is based off.
Player 2 would like to thank Koch Media Australia for facilitating this chat with Yasuyuki Oda