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By Sim Cheng Kai . November 20, 2011 . 4:30pm
Speaking of Saiki, he’s playable once you beat him as a mid-boss in Arcade Mode. On my second run through Arcade Mode I also unlocked Billy Kane after running into him as another mid-boss. Saiki was one of the characters in my team in this run, which may or may not played a part in triggering mid-boss Billy.
In terms of play style, Saiki feels like a cross between Ash Crimson and Benimaru. Here are a few finer points about Saiki’s moves that were not shown in this trailer.
The HP version of Kiyoki no Tsuki (QCF + LP or HP) does not conjure a fireball. Instead, Saiki waves his hand and summons a mist of dark flames in the air, similar to Elizabeth’s Etincelles or Benimaru’s HP Raijinken – useful as an anti-air. The EX version summons two dark mists in quick succession – forwards first, then upwards. For Saiki’s teleport move or Shichiru Gake (down, down + any button), the button pressed determines where Saiki will re-emerge relative to his previous position. LP will send him backwards a little, LK forwards a little. HP is a half-screen forwards teleport, and HK makes Saiki re-appear in the air, slightly in front of where he previously stood.
Although Saiki has four super moves, only Kyoryuu no Ori (semi-circle back x2 + LP or HP) has an EX version. As for command normals, in the air if you hit forward + B or backwards + B Saiki will pull out a short kick that nudges him in the corresponding direction and nullify his jump momentum, similar to Mai’s Ukihane command normal. Forward + B is called "In" while the backwards version is called "Hatsu". Saiki can cancel his sweep (crouching HK) into special moves on hit or block, like Abel in Street Fighter IV. It doesn’t work if the sweep misses.
I wasn’t able to get much hands-on time with Billy, so I can’t tell you much more than what I recorded.
The Many Ways to Fight Like a King
When it comes to modes of play, The King of Fighters XIII is no slouch. Unfortunately, online play was not available in the preview build I played, but there was still a lot of content to check out offline. Let’s start with the beefiest offline section: the visual-novel-esque story mode, which features a lot of cutscenes. 32 cutscenes, to be exact – and on repeat playthroughs you can choose to start from any of them (unless it’s one of the endings, of course).
I randomly picked a point to start from and played a couple of fights before the game declared my team the winner of the tournament, which was apparently a "Bad End". Since I hadn’t lost any fights, I presume to proceed you will need to meet special criteria. Story mode is team-based. There is no team edit so you will not be to play as K’, Kyo and Iori in a single play-through here; to do that you’d want to head on over to Arcade Mode.
In both story and arcade modes there is a little something called a Target Action displayed on the left-hand side of the screen. This is similar to the challenges in Street Fighter III: Third Strike, and will randomly list a task like "jump 3 times" or "perform drive cancel". Successfully perform the listed maneuver, and you will be rewarded with either half (easy challenges like jumping) or one full stock (tougher ones like Drive Cancels) of super meter and HD meter. This is great for practicing your supers and combos against moving targets in single-player mode, outside of training mode.
Training mode itself also has a few interesting options. Most notably you can map a single simple action to the Select button. For example, make your dummy jump when you press select. You can also set the training dummy to "1-guard, jump" (jump right after blocking one move), "1-hit, guard" (the auto-block we know and love), and "guard-cancel shift" (block one hit, then cancel that into an emergency escape). The last one is great for learning how you can punish guard-cancel shifts – one of the safest moves in KOF. A simple tutorial mode has Rose Bernstein teach you the basic commands of The King of Fighters XIII, as well as what the meters do. But don’t count on it to provide you with any information you won’t already find in the instruction manual.
In mission mode, every character (including Saiki and Billy) has 10 combo trials. Like with the Tekken games, there’s a "Demo" option in the pause menu that’ll show you how the combo is supposed to be done (I hope you’re taking notes, Capcom). Unlike Marvel vs. Capcom 3′s trials which fail you for freestyling, you can tack on extra moves or activate HD mode to make things easier on yourself.
Customize mode is where you go to set your icon and title, one of several message pre-sets, and your characters’ custom colour settings. Customizing your character’s looks is as simple as picking which "layer" of clothing you’d like to re-colour – jacket, pants, belt, gloves, skin, etc – and then selecting a colour from the restricted palette – usually in the ballpark of around 12 to 18 different colours.
Finally, there’s Gallery Mode, a digital storehouse for your cutscenes, special character artwork, background music, voices, and an "Invitation Card" jigsaw puzzle whose pieces you must slowly unlock through the course of playing the game. So there you have it, a quick look at all the basic gameplay and features!