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One of the subtitles for King of Fighters '98 is "Dream Match Never Ends." That's very appropriate, as KOF98 is essentially an arena for dream matchups between fighters who have appeared in the earlier games in the series. This game offers twelve three-man teams plus a pair of single entries for a total of 38 playable characters.
Like the previous games, King of Fighters '98 matches are three-fighter single elimination events. Each team sends one fighter at a time, and the match is over when all three fighters from one team have been defeated. Players can choose to play complete teams or pick fighters out of different teams for a custom group.
The game offers the dual mode system of its predecessor, King of Fighters '97. Before fighting, players can choose whether to fight in Advanced or Extra mode. When players match up against each other, they can even opt to each play a different mode. The biggest difference between Advanced and Extra modes is in the requirements for desperation and super desperation moves. In Advanced mode, players can charge up their power meter through using special techniques up to a certain number of "stocks."
A desperation move can be used at any time and consumes one stock. To use a super desperation, players must first expend one stock to get into max mode, then a second stock in executing the desperation. In Extra mode, players use a special charging technique to fill up their power meters: when the meter is full, a desperation move can be performed. But when the meter is full and the character's health is low, the super desperation technique is performed instead. There are other subtle differences between the two modes, such as whether characters can dodge attacks or perform rolls.
In an effort to make the fighting more exciting and give players who have lost one or two fighters an edge, King of Fighters '98 introduces some changes in how the power meter works in the Advanced and Extra modes. In Advanced mode, players can accumulate three stocks on their power meter plus one stock for every character that's been defeated. In the Extra mode, the power gauge itself shrinks every time a character is defeated to make it easier to perform desperation moves. ~ Kyle Knight, All Game Guide