At its core, King of Fighters
is a typical fighter. Two people step into a 'ring' and duke it out until one runs out of health. The usual array of special moves, throws, grabs and super attacks are present. In fact, the King of Fighters
games are very much like the old Street Fighter II
games, but they have a few extra twists which also appear in the more recent 'Vs.' series of games.
Rather than choosing a single character, you will choose three or four. However, you don't have to choose them all from the same team, and can mix and match as you like. Any character that's not actively fighting exists as a 'striker.' You have a limited number of times to call in a striker, and they will jump in and do a quick extra attack to your opponent.
There are also two major modes of play: team and single. Team is the 'default' mode of play for KOF, where you will select a different member of your team to fight every round. Each match is best three out of five. The alternative is called Single, and you will control the same character every round. Each match is best two out of three. Lastly, there's something of a story in KOF 2002/2001. However, like most fighting games, the story is barely present and really not comprehensible in any way.