Fighting games are known for their buzzing scenes filled with personality, and The King of Fighters XV follows that to a large extent. From worst to best, we rank the stages that lead us into immersive gaming and those we’ll try to avoid at all costs.
Worst: Colosseum Arena
For one last step during story mode, the tournament is sure to end with a whimper. Coliseum Arena is located in a colosseum. The atmospheres are quite bland. There are pillars pointing to a main stage in the background. There are no characters or interesting aspects of the scene close to the characters. The audience is hard to see because it is far from the action. For a charismatic game like The King of Fighters XV, it’s odd to see such a generic scene. Unfortunately, it also plays the familiar main theme from King of Fighters XIV, which is odd for a new title in the series.
The concert hall may explain why the audience is not closer to the action. The textures look shoddy, and as we mentioned in our review, they look straight out of the PlayStation 1 era. The band playing in the background isn’t impressive either, with some simple animations. However, what makes up for the absurd textures is what’s going on around them. The pyrotechnic effects are fantastic as they sparkle through the background of the action. Meanwhile, large screens around the stage provide battle information, just like in Super Smash Bros. Punch Out! stage.
Esaka construction site
Set in the heart of a cityscape, the Esaka construction site is where The King of Fighters XV begins to shine with its scenes. The builders in the background are charismatic as they are excited to watch the game. In the distance behind the action, you can see a bunch of skyscrapers, one of which bears the SNK logo. The main section of the scene are two huge yellow construction vehicles, and while nothing is happening with them, they make a decent backdrop for the construction-themed scene. The falls are probably due to a lack of budget. Builder models, while adding some personality, are sometimes copied to help create the scene. Also, it’s not the most interesting setting for a battle.
The King of Fighters XV takes it to the streets as the fight moves to the underground. It’s pretty empty, but the integration of the train, a rat, and great music makes it stand out. Unlike the construction vehicles in the last stage, trains move in and out of the track, making this stage more exciting to engage. By the way, you can see graffiti with the KOF planted on it. You will also notice small rats scurrying on the ground. What really makes this scene work is the music. It’s a neat jazzy, hip-hop lyrical track that gives more context to the surroundings. It’s not the most exciting landmark to focus on in a scene, but SNK has nailed the small details.
Hyper Galaxy Ring
This step is pretty awesome. The music first presents you with a tense atmosphere as two teams struggle to dominate the match, then it rockets into an engaging rock number that will get your heart pumping. Then you will notice the setting. The battle takes place in front of a giant crown building with an amplified crowd. Yes, the crowd still seems to be from the PS1 era, but it’s slightly more hidden behind a fence, which creates a better effect. The trophy-like structures shine among the lights, and the big text saying “King of Fighters” in bold adds to the dramatic effect. Additionally, hardcore SNK fans will likely spot two characters that appear in front of two ladies holding flags. It’s a step that deserves praise for going the extra mile stylistically.
Freezing Forest takes place in a beautiful arctic paradise. Our fighters face off in front of a lake and what looks like the spirit of a deer. The deer is beautiful as it lights up in a frosty way. It is animated from left to right, witnessing what is happening around it. Above the deer is a stunning aurora borealis around snow capped hills. We don’t understand how any part of the roster without the right gear could cope with the cold, but Freezing Forest really pulls the player into a magical setting. The music also creates a somewhat sinister tone by using a high-pitched vocalist, but it has that rocky undertone that we can dig into.
Cafe Pao Pao
The King of Fighters XV is truly a global affair as this stage takes place in a Caribbean bar. Masked men drum in the background, a full bar with guests is shown to the left, and purple lighting fills the stage. The surrounding features add flair to the cafe as this nightlife scene gives off a party vibe. The music brings it all together with a catchy jazzy melody that will further immerse you in this upscale establishment.
classical chinese garden
This beautiful Chinese garden is a place we would love to visit, let alone fight. Beautiful blue flowers glide across the water towards the temple building with red lanterns in the center. It looks immaculate and something we could only dream of. In addition, there is a detailed and furious dragon sculpture that wraps its tail on all the pillars of the stage, adding a more vicious side to the beautiful scenery of the temple. The only downside is its ill-suited music. When the battle begins, there are simple insect hisses nearby. It would have been better to stick with silence rather than the game-heavy rock track that SNK has for the stage.
Set on an American beach, SNK went overboard with stereotypes in the best way. There is a flame painted truck standing in the middle of the stage. A man with very spiky yellow hair fists the air with his buddies. There’s a store on the left with a super shark animatronic on it, and a restaurant with Americans in summer gear watching from the background. We love the addition of the cartoon Golden Gate Bridge in the background. Fittingly, the music is upbeat and the sounds inspired by the classic SEGA game OutRun. With the bright blue skies above the fighters’ heads, one would imagine SNK taking inspiration from the arcade title. Although the song is by no means a number one hit, it sounds great for the stage.
Main Street of Provence
This French themed scene is wonderful in its day and night variations. Settled in front of the cafes, the townspeople descend on the main street, wave and wave. A neat statue of the King of Fighters takes up the central part of the city center as cars cruise around it in a circular fashion. There are also French flags hanging above the charming European buildings. The theme is also energetic, reproducing the prized landscape we all long to visit. Meanwhile, the nighttime variant welcomes a group of visiting cats, greeting each other in the background. As the felines meet, the stage lights twinkle, creating a spellbinding atmosphere.
There’s so much going on with this step, in the best way. Broken down vehicles like plane and tank are well modeled in the sandy desert landscape. The tank looks almost cel-shaded and brings a Metal Slug vibe to the scene. You can also see a submerged treasure chest below. On stage and in the background, you can see smaller men inspired by the object keeper in the Metal Slug games. They are wacky and perpetuate the ridiculousness of the scene. Below the destroyed plane, you can see a couple enjoying a meal together, which adds to the character of the scene. Everything works and the music playing in the background drives the hype to a high level. It’s definitely the best of the soundtrack.
Best: Abandoned theme park
This spooky scene oozes atmosphere as the abandoned theme park is filled with spooky homages to its once-famous mascot. You may panic when you realize the mascot is sitting on a bench nearby. On the right is a Five Nights At Freddy-like animatronic looking into your soul. In her hand is a weapon is an ax, because she gives you a scary smile.
On the left side of it is a train passing by with an equally horrifying green beaming smile from time to time. The lighting is beautiful, with a purple and green presence surrounding the scene. The towering towering castle of the castle, coupled with a decommissioned Ferris wheel in the background, creates a dark atmosphere to create an amazing but dilapidated scene. The music, while a little spooky, doesn’t add much to the abandoned theme park vibe.
Most stages in The King of Fighters XV are well-designed, and some “even shatter our expectations.” However, a few, especially the late Coliseum Arena, don’t match the magnificent artistry of the abandoned theme park and Sahara. We hope more milestones will come to The King of Fighters XV via DLC.