The King of Fighters '94 is the first game in The King of Fighters series. SNK released a Japan-only remake, The King of Fighters '94 Re-bout, for the PlayStation 2 in 2004 to commemorate the series' tenth anniversary.
King of Fighters '94 introduces the series' signature 3-man team system. Instead of a simple one-on-one, two round fight system, a player chooses a team of three characters, then determines the order to play them in. Each fight consists of up to 5 rounds, and each round ends when one of the two fighters is knocked out; the remaining fighter stays and faces the opponent's next character. A fight is won when one of the two players loses the last of their three fighters. This system has remained constant throughout the series (and modes with a similar system have been used since in theTekken and Soul series). The major difference between this and other KoF titles is that players can only choose from pre-set teams of three instead of being able to build their own team from the whole cast.
Rugal Bernstein is an incredibly rich and notorious arms and drugs trafficker, as well as an incredibly skilled and ruthless fighter. Having become bored with the lack of competition, Rugal decides to host a new King of Fighters tournament. The King of Fighters tournament was held by Geese Howard in Art of Fighting 2 and the first Fatal Fury, and by Wolfgang Krauser in Fatal Fury 2. The game's ending reveals that Rugal has fought and bested both characters in the past.
Rugal has his secretary, (later revealed to be the assassin Mature), travel to eight destinations around the world and invite them to his new tournament. Unlike previous tournaments, the new King of Fighters is a team tournament, eight teams enter representing England, America, Brazil, Korea, Japan, Mexico, Italy and China. The Japanese team, later known as the Hero Team, is made up of Kyo Kusanagi, Goro Daimon and Benimaru Nikaido, and canonically win the tournament, (although each team can win if arcade/story mode is completed with that team).
The winning team is taken by Mature via air-lift to Rugal's private air carrier the Blacknoah, where they are greeted by Rugal in his 'museum'; a room filled with statues of the fighters that he has fought and killed. Rugal tells the Hero Team that the reason of why he held the KOF tournament was to see the fact of who could meet his expections of a good fight and that he wanted to find more fighters who could prove to be "worthy" of joining his grisly collection of fallen warriors. In an impromptu fight, Rugal defeats Benimaru and Daimon with little effort and reduces Kyo to his knees, that is until Kyo sees the unconscious body of his father Saisyu Kusanagi who had confronted, and lost to, Rugal before the tournament. Not sure if his father is alive or dead, Kyo becomes infuriated and defeats Rugal, who initiates the boat's self-destruct mechanism. The Japan Team, Mature, and Saisyu manage to escape the explosion, but Rugal appears to perish. In truth, he did survive and was revived as a cyborg, known as 'Omega Rugal'.
Some of the statues in Rugal's museum bear a striking resemblance to characters from Street Fighter; namely Ryu, Guile, Vega (Balrog in Japan), Fei-Long, and Akuma. Rugal's intro against Guile in Capcom vs. SNK 2 references this.
Countries of originEdit
King of Fighters '94 is the only game in the series to assign a nation to each team (in a similar fashion to Street Fighter II).
While the teams from Korea, Japan and the USA include a team of characters each from the appropriate country, no other team does; in fact, the Chinese team (in later installments known as the 'Psycho Soldiers') is the only other team to include any character whose place of birth is their assigned country: both Sie Kensou and Chin Gentsai are Chinese, while Athena Asamiya is Japanese.
The Italy team is made up of two Americans (Terry and Andy Bogard, the latter of which has a stage in Italy in Fatal Fury 2), and one Japanese Muay Thai fighter (Joe Higashi). Curiously, the only Italian in the game (Robert Garcia) is a member of the Mexico team, along with two Japanese/Japanese-Americans (Ryo and Takuma Sakazaki). The England team (under the Union Flag, i.e. that of the United Kingdom) is made up of two young Japanese women (Mai Shiranui and Yuri Sakazaki) and King, who was born in France, raised in Thailand, and happened to be living in England at the time. The Brazil team is composed of two Americans (Ralf Jones and Clark Steel) and Heidern, whose birthplace is unknown.
- An early advertisement stated that characters from the game World Heroes were also supposed to be included in the game. The characters of World Heroes should compose 2 teams: France with Kotaro Fuuma, Janne Dulk and Mudman, and Russia with Hanzou Hattori, Ryoko Izumo and Rasputin. These plans were at last rejected Template:Fact
- Rumours hinted the presence of a team composed by characters of Samurai Shodown: Haohmaru, Galford and a woman (unclear if Charlotte or Nakoruru) were slated as the members. But the idea was discarded because Samurai Shodown was set too much before the events of KOF 1994.
- It is said that the original gameplay design for Rugal included being able to copy other characters special moves after they had been performed once by the player, but that this was cancelled due to memory restraints. He instead got moves from two other SNK bosses-the above mentioned Reppuken and Kaiser Wave. The fact that he manages to use some of Akuma's classic moves (namely the Shun Goku Satsu and Ashura Warp, a teleport move) in his God Rugal form seems to hint at this. Interestingly enough, Rugal bears more than a passing resemblance to Krauser, leading many to be believe he was related when the game first debuted. While that theory remains unconfirmed, he was more than likely given these specials moves to give an aura of a very imposing, and evil, boss character.