Game publisher Atlus announced today that the release of SNK Playmore’s long-awaited 2D-fighting game sequel King of Fighters XIII has been pushed off to November 22 in North America for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 platforms at a $50 price point. Originally set for an October release, the game is set after the events from The King of Fighters XI and is also the conclusion of Ash Crimson’s story arc which started in The King of Fighters 2003. It follows another King of Fighters tournament secretly hosted by Those From the Past, the organization behind events from the previous events that are trying break the seal from the demon Orochi and take its power.
The game removes some of the gameplay systems used in the previous game: the Guard Attack system, the Critical Counter system, the Clash System as well as the dynamic, zooming camera. In their place, however, there are new systems that have been confirmed to be added; the first of the three is the new EX Mode, which convert each character’s super moves into more powerful versions that allows one bar from the player’s power gauge for EX Special Moves and two bars from the player’s power gauge for EX Desperation Moves. Another new addition is the Hyper Drive mode, which gives the player unlimited use of Drive Cancels for a while once the Hyper Drive Gauge has been maxed, and the last new feature confirmed for the game is the Drive Cancel system, which opens up new combo possibilities. The game also marks the return of the multi-bar power gauge that was introduced in The King of Fighters ’97. In addition to standard and EX Desperation Moves, a new class of Desperation Move entitled "NEO MAX" are included in the game and require that three stocks of gauge be exchanged in order to perform one, making it similar to Hidden Desperation Moves (The King of Fighters 2002) and Leader Desperation Moves (The King of Fighters 2003). These can also be cancelled from standard Desperation Moves, making them similar to the "Dream Cancels" from The King of Fighters XI.
The console version is based on the 1.1 update of The King of Fighters XIII arcade which fixed several issues from the original version. It will also contain a story mode that will be influenced by the player’s actions while various perspectives being available. The mode is presented in visual novel style alongside fights, something considered to be hard to include in the arcade version. Other modes to be shown are Arcade, Practice and Challenge. The online gameplay will be based on the one included in later versions of The King of Fighters XII.
The game takes place after The King of Fighters XI and is the last game from game’s third story arc that started in The King of Fighters 2003. The fighter Ash Crimsonhas absorbed the powers from two of the descendants of the clans who sealed the Orochi away 1,800 years ago, Chizuru Kagura and Iori Yagami, while Kyo Kusanagi is to be his last victim. As his former comrade, Elisabeth Blanctorche, prepares to stop him, fighters receive an invitation to another King of Fighters tournament hosted by a person labelled as "R". The tournament is sponsored by Rose who is being controlled by "Those From The Past", the organization behind the two previous tournaments that has been trying to break Orochi’s seal.
When the winning team reaches the game’s end, Saiki, the leader of "Those From The Past" puts his work into motion. Saiki intends to use the energy expended by the winning team to enable him to cross time. However, as the fight rages, Botan notes that the gate that links them to the past is starting to close despite the battle. Before Saiki can act, he is ambushed by Ash Crimson, who steals his power. It is revealed then that, while Ash was enlisted by Saiki to obtain the Three Sacred Treasures to power the time gate, Ash had no intention of helping Saiki. Ash is suddenly overtaken by Saiki’s persona, who then attempts to cross the time gate in Ash’s body. The winning team pursues him into the time gate and the final battle of King of Fighters XIII begins inside the time gate. Saiki is defeated in the gate but persists on crossing over to the past, believing it means nothing since he can return to the past and then cross the gate again to attempt his plan anew. However, Ash halts his attempt and allows the gate to close, leaving Saiki trapped in the present. Furthermore, Ash reveals that he is a descendant of Saiki. By locking Saiki out of the gate, he denies Saiki’s existence in the past and forces his own existence to cease. As Ash vanishes from the living world, the flow of time resumes.
The roster of The King of Fighters XIII will feature all the characters who appeared in The King of Fighters XII, including the two console-exclusive characters, Elisabeth Branctorche and Mature. In addition, at the Akihabara event, three new characters were announced in the form of The King of Fighters ’94 Women’s Team (Yuri Sakazaki, King, and Mai Shiranui). Unlike The King of Fighters XII, all of the characters are organized into proper teams this time with the exception of Ash, who is now a single entry character.
On April 22, 2010, Famitsu reported the addition of two new characters to the game: Vice for Iori Yagami’s team and Takuma Sakazaki for the Art of Fighting team. The official website was soon updated with the changes as well as adding a storyline for Iori’s team, and on the April 23, 2010 location test at Hong Kong, Hwa Jai from Fatal Fury: King of Fighters has been confirmed to be in the game as the final member of Kim Kaphwan’s team. The first member of the final team, K’, was revealed on April 30 with his addition to the roster page. Maxima was also revealed as the second member of K’s Team via addition to the roster page on May 7 and one week later, the final character for K’s Team, Kula Diamond, was introduced in the same way. Saiki, the manipulator behind the events of The King of Fighters XIII, appears as sub-boss while an alernate form of Ash Crimson appears as the final boss.
On June 28, 2011, Famitsu reported the addition of Billy Kane from Fatal Fury: King of Fighters as a console version exclusive character. On July 29, 2011, the human form of Saiki was also announced to be playable, while the original Iori Yagami will be featured as downloadable content.