The King of Fighters 2002/FAQ

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What does the tier list look like?

There are 43 playable characters in this game. The tier list sort of looks like follows:

  • God Tier (#4): Angel, May Lee, Athena Asamiya, Billy Kane

  • High Tier (#9): Choi, Kim, Whip, Clark, Vanessa, Benimaru, Iori, Kula Diamond, Yuri

  • High-Mid Tier (#11): Leona, Chris, Yamazaki, O. Yashiro, Mai, Daimon, Yashiro, Andy, Maxima, Kusanagi, O. Chris

  • Mid Tier (#12): Terry Bogard, Ryo, Joe, Takuma, Ramon, K9999, Shermie, Ralf, Robert, Kyo, Mature, K'

  • Low-Mid Tier (#6): Mary, Chang, Vice, Kensou, Seth, O. Shermie

  • Bottom Tier (#1): Chin

I'm a KOF98 player, what are the differences between both games?

KOF2K2 is considered the version that is closer to KOF98 in terms of gameplay, but for those that came from KOF 98 there are differences that are important be aware:

  • Weak Hit Freeze:

The "Hit Freeze"/"Hit Stop" caused by weak attacks is very short in KOF2K2 in comparison to KOF98. Because of that, the weak chains must be done in a much faster pace, and you have a short window to cancel weak attacks into command attacks, specials or supers.

  • Speed of the hard attacks:

In KOF98, cr.C, cl.C and cl.D were normally the character's fastest normal attacks (or at least among the fastest). While its still true for some characters in KOF2K2, its not the general rule anymore as the majority of the cast are nerfed with startup increases on those attacks.

  • Max Mode:

MAX Mode on KOF 98 increase your damage (around 20% increase damage), so its a good option for spend meter for poking characters or when you don't know your super (or when your supers are bad). But in KOF2K2 you actually do less damage (around 33% decrease damage) during Max Mode, so do not worth to activate Max Mode on neutral (unless you really need/want to do a specific SDM or HSDM - normally because its unblockable or difficult to evade or because the block damage will kill the opponent). In fact, in general "top players" rarely activate Max Mode on KOF2K2 on neutral, and instead save meter to use Max Mode Cancel to do big combos or to start combos from uncancellable attacks (normally an overhead, low attack or "CD guard cancel" that hit in counter).

  • Supers' damage and invincibility:

In KOF98, in general, all super do considerable damage. But in KOF2K2 many supers do very little damage (like Andy's DM qcb db f + P or Robert's DM qcf qcf + K or Yuri's DM qcf hcb + K) and do not worth much to be used on BnB combos. Its recommend to test each super of your characters in KOF2K2 instead of "trust" that BnB into super will always do a good damage. Also, in general the invincibility on super has been reduced and many times the invincibility is active only during statup (so may trade with meaty attacks.)

  • Random select:

In KOF98 if you select the random, all your remaining characters will be automatically random, but in KOF2K2, you select one character each time. So you have to select a random three times to have a full random team, and you are able, for example, to have a team like 1st random, 2nd fixed & 3rd fixed. Also, in KOF98 your random characters change each time you go to the "select order screen", but in KOF2K2 your random characters will change on the "select order screen" only if you have started a round since the last change in your team, so if another player enter in the game after your time has changed but before the round begin, you will keep the same team (that your opponent will know) for the next two players fight, instead of gaining a new random team.


What game versions are there?


  • The Arcade Version of the Neo Geo


  • This Version included Shingo Yabuki and King as Bonus Single Entries.

AES/Neo Geo

  • The Console Version of the Neo Geo

PlayStation 2

  • Bugs
  • The only system specific bug discovered so far for this version is an instant kill glitch. It's largely unresearched, but seems to occur when you counter hit an airborn opponent with a wakeup reversal c.C in the farm stage. If this happens the opponent hit by c.C will die instantaneously. Only witnesses on the PAL version.=
  • Bonus Characters
  • Shingo Yabuki
  • King
  • Geese Howard
  • Goenitz
  • Riot of Blood Iori Yagami


  • Same Bonus as PlayStation 2 Version


Random select

On character selection screen, hold Start (and then press P/K or wait for the timer to reach zero...).

Random select (team)

On character selection screen, with no character select yet, hold Start and then hold b / f (and then press P/K or wait for the timer to reach zero...)

Random Damage

Unlike newer games, KOF2K2 has a random factor on the damage output of some moves. You can verify this on training mode using same combo many times. You will notice that sometimes the moves does slight less or slight more damage than the average. Keep in minds however that, unlike other games with random damage like SF2, the difference between the max and the min damage of a move is very small (in general +/- a "weak attack from the average damage). But you have to keep this in mind when comparing two moves or combos with similar damage (ie. if the damage is similar you have to test a bunch of times to be sure that a move/combo is really, on average, more damaging than another).

Damage Reduction

It is a fact that KOF2K2 has some kind of damage reduction mechanic (if you see someone using Angel's infinite for example, you will notice that the damage after some loops is considerable smaller), but apparently, the damage reduction does not affect "simple combos", as in simples combos, the total damage seems to be the "sum of the parts".

I read once (lost the link...) that in KOF2K2 the first two times a move is used in a combo it deals full damage, after that each time it deals 50% less than the previous (so, 1st and 2nd time it deals 100%, 3rd time it deals 50%, 4th time it deals 25%, 5th time it deals 12.5%, and so on), until a "min damage limit" is reached. I found no official explanation of the KOF2K2, but in practice it seem to be something like that (maybe with different numbers...).

Keep in minds that some situations may look like damage reduction but are not:

  • Random damage: as mentioned above some moves have a random factor on the damage. So sometimes the moves one by one will deal a little more damage than a combo just because of the random factor.

  • "Cancelled X uncancelled" command attacks: a C/D > f +A/B will many times does less damage than both moves isolated. Its not damage reduction, its because the cancelled command attack is actually a different move, with different frame data and damage, where the cancelled version will many times be faster and less damaging.

  • "Smart damage distribution": some moves like Terry's dp + P, Ralph's qcf hcb + P, O. Chris dp + C, and others, have a group of hits that do not have a fixed damage output, instead the first hits of that group that strike the opponent will deal a reasonable damage and the following hits of that group that strike will deal a minimal damage. This is not damage reduction in the sense that:
    • A - The moves will still deal the same total damage in and out of a combo.
    • B - If you manage to use the same move twice in the same combo, the move may deal the same total damage each time - as long as you strike the same way in both times.

This feature is just a game design to guarantee that these moves will deal a "good damage" even if you miss some of the hits, at the same time that if you strike all hits it will not do an "outstanding damage". Keep in mind however that moves with these kind of hits may still have hits with fixed damage - normally the first hits and/or the last hits, in these cases miss the first and/or last hits will greatly decrease the total damage.

  • Max Mode: you deals less damage during Max Mode (around -33%). So a big combo in Max Mode may deal the same damage as a simple combo out of the Max Mode.

Any useful links I can use?

Game Navigation

Billy Kane
Blue Mary
May Lee
Secret/Orochi Characters
Orochi Chris
Orochi Shermie
Orochi Yashiro