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Yamazaki and Blue Mary were left out of KoF14 to make it feel 'more KoF, less Fatal Fury', Art of Fighting's Jack Turner, John Crawley also considered

Posted by Nicholas 'MajinTenshinhan' Taylor • January 3, 2017 at 1:07 p.m. PST • Comments: 67

King of Fighters 14 was released back in August of last year, and it had a whopping 50 characters at launch. Even with that huge roster, though, there are still many characters that people wish had made the cut.

Perhaps the two most notable of these characters are Yamazaki and Blue Mary, who've been in many King of Fighters titles through the years, after originating in Fatal Fury alongside KoF mainstays such as Terry Bogard and Mai Shiranui.

In an interview conducted shortly after the release of the game, King of Fighters 14's Producer Yasuyuki Oda and Art Director Nobuyuki Kuroki gave insight into how some roster decisions were made, including why a bunch of characters, including Ryuji Yamazaki, Blue Mary, Jack Turner, John Crawley, Kasumi Todoh, Eiji Kisaragi, and the massively requested Rock Howard didn't end up making the cut.

This interview was conducted in Japanese via Famitsu, but I've translated some portions of it for you, where you can see the rationale for some of these characters not quite making it, as well as the reasoning for some of the new cast.
Famitsu: This time you have so many new characters, how did you decide on the ratio between new and old characters?

Producer Yasuyuki Oda: Hmm, it just kind of became what we ended up with. We created an extremely conservative lineup and a "What the heck?!" lineup, compared the two to eachother while slowly making a merged version of the two.

Also, because of the huge popularity of King of Fighters in South America and China, we thought we'd give them specific teams. Honestly, our Psycho Soldier team is typically our China team, but apparently our fans in China weren't even aware of that, haha.
Continue below for the rest of the interview.
Famitsu: So that's why you created a separate China team alongside the Psycho Soldier team?

Oda: Yeah. We already have stereotypical Chinese stuff like Shaolin Kung-Fu, so we tried to do something a bit different with these ones. We went to trips to China, and it felt like everyone there was super flashy, so rather than go with traditionally Chinese characters, we went for something straight up cool instead.

Famitsu: That makes sense.

Oda: For example, if you ask foreigners, they'd probably have the traditional Japanese image of sumo wrestlers with topknots, but that's not Kyo at all. So we figured we'd try to "Kyo-ify" our new characters.

Look at Nelson, for example. Even though he's a boxer, we didn't go the obvious Mike Tyson route or anything like that, but instead made him a cool character that can rival even the main character in personality.

Famitsu: He really is a cool character. But, you have a lot of boxers at SNK already, haha.

Oda: We do have a lot of boxers. Maybe we should finish our careers with a full-fledged boxing game? Haha

Famitsu: Haha. Mr. Oda, were you the main decider when it came to the characters?

Oda: Not really, it was more of a scenario where the main planner brought forth ideas to the design team, and they'd look them over and decide and start designing them.

Art Director Nobuyuki Kuroki: Honestly, when we decided on 50 characters we started creating categories for them. Aimed at gamers, aimed at women, aimed at people who like to just watch games, and stuff like that. And then we'd be like "OK, so Terry fits in this category..."

Famitsu: That sounds like you'd base a lot of any character's image on what category you'd placed them in.

Kuroki: I can't tell you which characters were in what category, but we did assign certain designers to certain categories.

Famitsu: Were there any objections from staff about any of the designs put forth?

Kuroki: The final decider was Oda, but within the design team, we never had anyone say "No, I don't like this" or "Please don't do that" or anything like that.

Famitsu: So they all ended up as you'd planned. Speaking of character selection, I'm personally surprised that the very popular Yamazaki and Blue Mary from Fatal Fury aren't in the game, why is that?

Oda: If we were making a lineup only based on popularity and nothing else, they'd definitely be in there. In fact, so would Gato and B. Jenet. But... Then, to me at least, I'd start feeling "Wait, are we making a Fatal Fury all of a sudden?", haha.

We wanted the game to have more of a King of Fighters feeling, so we decided on other characters instead.

Famitsu: So that's why.

Oda: That said, we didn't really think about it while making them, but in retrospect we realized that since the new characters Shun'ei and Meitenkun are students of Tung Fu Rue, that kind of makes them Fatal Fury characters anyway... Haha.

Famitsu: Haha. On that subject, it feels like there are quite few Art of Fighting characters present?

Oda: You know, we actually wanted to bring in Jack Turner and John Crawley from Art of Fighting, but we felt people would go "Who the heck is this guy?", haha.

Kuroki: We'd had Kasumi Todoh and Eiji Kisaragi in previous titles, but we felt like if we put Eiji back in now, would people even know he was originally an Art of Fighting character?

Also, we really wanted to innovate on the character's designs and change them up, this time around. SNK's fighting games have been going for over 20 years now, and there are several youngsters who only know of King of Fighters, from us. We made Shun'ei and Meitenkun with those types of users in mind, to appeal to them.

Famitsu: Getting back to our previous subject, there's a very popular character from Garou: Mark of the Wolves, Rock Howard, who hasn't been in King of Fighters at all yet. Is there a particular reason for that?

Oda: I don't know why he's been absent for so many titles, but I remember that right after Garou: Mark of the Wolves came out and he got popular, the general feeling was "It'd be a shame to waste his inclusion in KoF right off the bat, so let's keep him out of this next one, at least".

So, even though it was decided to leave him out at that time, I thought he'd be in before long, but he never got included, did he?

Famitsu: I see. So why was he left out of 14?

Oda: Well, we had decided to include Geese, and at that point it felt like it'd get kind of messy to have them both in the game right away. We might include Rock down the line, but we also might not, haha.

Well, since we do see King of Fighters as a bit of a festival event, there are a lot of characters I think need to be brought in at some point, even from non-fighting game titles of ours.

Source: Famitsu.
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