The King of Fighters '98/Gameplay Overview

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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, 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.

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.
  • 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.

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.