Over the years, SNK has been getting Code Mystics to bring over many of its classic releases through native ports for PS4 and PS Vita with the likes of the brilliant Garou: Mark of the Wolves, Samurai Shodown V Special, and more. There was one game missing from Code Mystics’ ports for PS4 and that was The King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match that the company brought to PC via Steam a few years ago. The King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match features new stages, artwork, music, characters, gameplay changes, and a ton more making it the definitive version of The King of Fighters 2002 and one of the best fighting games available when it debuted on PS2 and then saw an Xbox Live Arcade release. I’ve been playing The King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match on PS4 over the last week for review after playing it across Xbox One backward compatibility and Steam before and here’s what you need to know.

If you’ve never played The King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match before, this PS4 version is a port of the PC version that itself is an enhanced version of the original PS2 and Xbox digital release that contains all the improvements and new rollback netcode for online. The King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match builds on the original release with new characters, upgraded visuals, new stages, and more and Unlimited Match is basically the only version of The King of Fighters 2002 worth playing today. It has slowly become my favourite game in the series in the time I spent with it across platforms.

The King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match on PS4 includes a massive playable roster of 66 characters. The King of Fighters games have always been three versus three experiences and while you do have the option to play one versus one, the games are meant to be played in three versus three setups but they don’t play similar to tag fighters like Marvel Vs. Capcom or Dragon Ball FighterZ. Instead, you play and try to defeat opponents one after the other until no one is left. In addition to featuring lots of new characters, there are also new moves for characters in addition to each character’s special and extra-special moves from past games. The sprites and animations for all characters are excellent.

In terms of core game modes, it includes your regular arcade mode, versus mode, training, a nicely varied challenge mode that is like a mission mode, an endless mode, and the online modes. Don’t expect a big story mode here because the game was designed to be a “dream match” release which means it includes old, new, and dead characters coming together to serve as a massive spectacle for fans. 

Visually, The King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match looks excellent. The spritework was already amazing and it scales well across screen sizes and through the visual options available in the PS4 release. I disable all smoothening and scan lines while playing SNK games but the options are there for those who want to tweak the image quality. The backgrounds and stages all look brilliant as well. I had no performance issues at all in my time playing The King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match on both PS4 Pro and PS5 through backward compatibility. Another new feature beyond the new visuals for The King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match over the original The King of Fighters 2002 is the newly done music. It is superlative and one of the best SNK soundtracks which is high praise considering how almost every SNK game has music worth listening to outside the game.

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I tested out the online netcode against people in North America, Europe, and Asia and had problems only in two out of the 15 matches I played this weekend. My PS4 Pro and PS5 were both wired and after a bit of adjusting for the rollback depending on the ping. The two games I tried over wifi against friends outside the country were not great as expected but I did want to see how much of a difference it made in this release. I also found games very quickly on PS4 against random people and have had a great experience online on almost every occasion which is massive step up from most modern fighting games.

My only complaint with The King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match on PS4 also applies to the Steam version. I hope SNK gets Code Mystics to add a spectator mode and more online functionality. Adding rollback on Steam was already a great surprise and having that port with all its fixes and new netcode brought to PS4 is amazing. While not something I expect given the amount of resources likely required, having crossplay between PS4 and PC for The King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match would be a dream come true for the online community this game has across platforms. Hopefully future SNK releases do include crossplay.

Overall, The King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match is essential for any fighting game fan who owns a PS4 and more than worth the asking price. Having already played a ton of The King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match through the Xbox Live Arcade release via backward compatibility on Xbox One, The King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match with rollback netcode (also on Steam) is an absolute joy. I hope SNK considers bringing spectating and more online features to The King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match on PS4 and Steam in the future because Code Mystics absolutely nailed it with this new PS4 release. 

A copy of this game was provided to us by the publisher for this review.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
The King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match
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