I might need to turn off my notifications to social networks over the next few hours. SNK Playmore released its first teaser trailer for The King of Fighters XIV and fans are already demanding to get that 30 seconds back in their lives. Meanwhile some avid fans were just coming up to speed, only to end up expressing that same feeling of regret.
My feed had dozens of negative tweets/reaction gifs but no link to the actual #kof14 vid. Finally googled... y'all were right not to link it
Though it was all the time I needed to make a definitive conclusion: SNK should never abandon 2D designs. Ever. Seeing the character models in action brought back some cringe-worthy visions of King of Fighters: Maximum Impact, produced by SNK subsidiary Noise Factory. Just look at it - what are those???
This isn't to suggest that 3D fighting engines are terrible, as there are numerous companies who've evolved as new advancements in technology have progressed over time. But there's no evidence of that here. It's as if the series just took several steps back. This doesn't bode well if the company had any serious consideration about becoming a contender in esports.
"What did I just see?"
SNK struggled to establish a significant presence within the competitive landscape, typically often overshadowed by Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, and Marvel vs. Capcom iterations over the years. King of Fighters XIII put the franchise back on the map, gaining enough appeal that it was featured on the big stage at the world-class tournament event Evolution 2012.
It was a noble achievement, which makes the series departure from the classic 2D sprites difficult to accept. I imagine many fans will be outraged, however such knee-jerk reactions should be kept in check until we've seen something more conclusive. For all we know, KOF XIV could surprise us all - especiall if the developer ends up taking a page out of Capcom's book by creating an open dialogue with its fanbase.