It was in July of last year that SNK Playmore brought their classic fighting game franchise to iOS with The King of Fighters-i [$2.99], and it was the only game that could really stand up to the then current standard for touch screen fighters Street Fighter IV [$4.99], and in many ways it even exceeded it. Which series you prefer is largely a personal preference thing, but I always felt that The King of Fighters-i edged out Street Fighter IV in overall quality and playability.

The problem was that by the time The King of Fighters-i hit the App Store, the superior sequel to Street Fighter IV had already been out for a month. It was called Street Fighter IV Volt [$4.99] and it came packing everything that made the original game so great plus additional characters, new features, and most importantly online multiplayer. The online matchmaking worked surprisingly well in Volt, and despite The King of Fighters-i being absolutely fantastic it was still just a single player- or Bluetooth multiplayer-only game, and online battling was the new hotness.

Now nearly a year later SNK Playmore is taking a page out of the Volt handbook with the just-released The King of Fighters-i 2012 [$0.99]. This latest entry in the iOS KOF series contains everything from the first game that was great in addition to – much like the release of Volt – new characters, new features, and online WiFi multiplayer. Since basically everything from the first game is included in the 2012 edition, you might want to read our original review of KOF-i as well as the details of its extensive update to get the nitty gritty on the game.

As for what’s improved in The King of Fighters-i 2012, for starters the roster has been significantly expanded from 20 playable characters to 32. Art of Fighting, Psycho Soldier, Kim and Ikari are the 4 new teams of 3 that make up the new additions. Also, there are 2 more characters – Nests-style Kyo and Classic Iori – available as DLC for $1.99 each. These are alternate versions of existing characters, and they’re certainly entirely optional purchases, but it will be interesting to see if more characters end up coming down the road and if they’ll be paid or as a part of free updates.

The single player part of the game includes everything that was in last year’s version: an arcade ladder in 3v3 team battles or 1v1 flavors, an endless survival mode, and an excellent training mode. The lengthy Challenge mode from the original game returns, with some new challenges thrown in for good measure. A brand new single player addition to KOF-i 2012 is a Time Attack mode. Here you must battle through 10 straight opponents as quickly as possible, with a Game Center leaderboard tracking your best overall time.

Time Attack is a nice addition to an already great single player offering in The King of Fighters-i 2012, but that’s not why we’re here. We came for the multiplayer. Naturally, the Bluetooth local multiplayer mode from the original game made its way into 2012, and remains a fine option for squaring off against a buddy in your same vicinity. However, the real draw in the new online WiFi multiplayer mode.

The online portion for KOF-i 2012 works about how you might expect if you’re familiar with Volt – that is, it’s pretty good but not great. Naturally there is a bit of lag at times, but nothing too earth-shattering. Finding a match can also take a long time but I imagine that will clear up a lot as more people get the game. When talking about real-time multiplayer on a mobile device like the iPhone, it’s hard to expect perfection. For what it is the online matchmaking in KOF-i 2012 is really fun for people who get tired of fighting against the CPU all the time. With the right expectations, it really is a killer feature of the new game.

So, with a large portion of The King of Fighters-i 2012 being nearly identical to last year’s release, whether or not you should buy this new edition will hinge on how important new characters and online play is to you. With a whopping 12 new fighters added to the roster, I think it’s worth upgrading just for that, and people in our forums are totally digging the new version too. Along with a decent online offering and KOF-i 12 is likely a worthy upgrade for fans of iOS fighters. One thing is for sure though, Street Fighter IV Volt now has some serious competition, and it looks like the future is pretty bright for fighting games on the App Store.

TouchArcade Rating

  • Scy Bert

    Wow, at 5 stars, I might buy.  I try to leave a review mentioning TouchArcade when I buy the 5 star games, because it is a site I've been able to trust.

  • DwayneW

    Why is this not on iPad (or any tablet)? How can anyone see the action with their thumbs in the way?

    • Furtin

      Yes, its a drag. Time for Apple to launch an appropriate control-mechanism around the iPhone ....

      • JCat_NY

        And time for a number of long time VG companies to wake the heck up and have their developers produce Universal versions right out of the gate.  

      • Bartek Walas

        Just to make something aware, it is NOT that easy to create a universal application, let alone a pixilized game. Sure, they could spend 2 seconds to resize the game, but it will look like pixely, blury shit. If they want to make a true iPad game, it takes time and manual rescaling. I'm not specifically referring to this game, just to people who think you could transfer a game to the iPad overnight.

      • Laszlo Tuss

        They should do it in the next update.

      • DwayneW

        A haptic touch screen would make a difference. Or they could just make it compatible with iCade.

      • Schuyler

        How would a haptic-feedback touchscreen improve the thumbs-on-controls-covering-up-the-screen issue? You'd still need to devote screen real estate to a control mechanism.

      • Blodia

        The iCade doesn't count?

  • skps

    its hard for me to take a fighting game seriously if it's on a touch screen. does this game even control that well? 

    • Simon Finn

      So you are missing out on some great games. SF4 Volt, Final Fight all control very well. I've never had any problems with them and the whole thing about thumbs obscuring the screen is just...old. It can be applied to every game on the App Store, more or less.

  • Furtin

    Well deserved 5 Stars! Great to see my old Neo-Geo friend back on the screen with multiplayer. 🙂

  • ohwussup

    how does this game or sf volt compare to mvc3?  is moves easy to master? i've always been a button masher at SF

  • jeffmd

    This game is fun but the only thing  I really didn't like is managing not one, but 2 power bars. Some things simply do NOT need to be this complicated!

  • Fokion Harokopos

    Fighting games on iOS will take off only when Apple decides to let developers create alternative controllers. Or perhaps if they decide to develop one themselves. Yes, it might not be in keeping with the modern, one-button, sleek image the company tries so hard to maintain, but it's necessary for truly enjoyable gaming. Sure, point and click games are amazing on iOS, but that's as far as it goes for me.

    • Out5poken

      Key point.. "as far as it goes for you" for everyone else, we'll continue to enjoy our fighting games just fine on the touch screen.

  • Lee West

    The future looks bright - if you are willing to ignore that none of the great fighting games are universal. I cannot get myself to pay tis much for playing something in x2

  • Laszlo Tuss

    How about an universal update and a discount ? 😀

  • Out5poken

    I'll give this KOF-i a second chance now that it has WiFi online muliplayer. I got bored very quickly playing the CPU on the first one.

    Street Fighter Volt has a lot to live up to now... lets hope Capcom pulls their fingers out their a*** and gives us a proper Super Street Fighter 4 and improved MVC2 now that we're seeing better alternatives.

  • Ziggy Strdust

    SF Volt's BIGGEST deficiency is handling of RageQuitting.. A great game is poisoned by people who DON'T KNOW HOW TO LOSE, and RECOVER FROM A LOSS.. In Ranked Match the RQ penalty is very light for a high level player with lots of BP.. Some high level players sacrifice BP to "save face", because the RQ penalty is so light.. In Friendly Match one must try to be GENTLE on the opponent, lest they RQ so freely in Friendly because there's no penalty.. I'd like to see how KOF deals with RQers..

    • Out5poken

      I must be really shit lol, because I play friendlies mainly on Volt and hardly come across RQ these days..!?! I thought it was more apparent in rank battles.. as I find friendly matches less frustrating when I lose.

  • Irvin

    SF volt get some serious competition? are you kidding me? SF volt is one of the worst port ever running at 15 or so frames per second. It's not even a deep or fun game in it's original state running at 60 fps.

    Kofi 2012 do deserve a 5 stars and so does soul calibur if only because their aren't any better fighters for the iphone.

    • Laszlo Tuss

      It run at 60 FPS in any 3. Gen device and above.

      And yes, its an awesome port.

    • unitysounduk

      If soul calibra was online multi player it would be a contender but at the moment it's not I don't see why they make games that are not online multi as its a portable device (all two player games should be )

  • Ng Xi Cher

    will this game release on android?

    • unitysounduk

      Properly as most games android seems to be 6-12 months behind iOS when it comes to games

  • unitysounduk

    Great game 4stars for me if they sort out the online slowdown it's 5

  • samirerre

    this game is 5s no doubt,i have the first version and it plays well but it didnt have online .

  • Noaih drake

    Is it universal

THE KING OF FIGHTERS-i 2012. Reviewed by Jared Nelson on . Rating: 5