KOF XV Review: P4: Sound and Music

  1. Graphics
  2. Gameplay
  3. Content
  4. Sound & Music
  5. Reception

Congratulations to Hideki ‘Sha V’ Asanaka! Under his lead, the team has a fantastic offering for this episode. All the new tunes are pleasers and cover a range of genres. Let’s talk about the music and sound design. I’m gonna go randomly a bit because I’m short on time.

There’s no attract mode and so, no music greets you as the game launches. It just sits there (even after an hour) but once you get into the menu, the music begins. It’s quite atmospheric and builds a sense of tension, of course something is going to happen. This music takes quite a while to get going, like really, how long do they expect us to be sitting here?  The thing is it’s worth it, it’s a really nice synth, which then transitions into another track loop, I’m pretty sure it never starts again from the beginning.  Those Michael Jackson-esque whoops may become annoying but they’re not frequent enough as yet. I don’t expect anyone to be sitting in menu for that long but it’s a good track and of course customisable.

They are still utilising the controller speaker feature but I’m not sure they had the same character quotes coming out as in kof14. It was quite wasted in tournaments as joysticks don’t have speakers but should have been awesome for pad players. Try it out!

The character select screen music is great.  Pumps you up like it should for a fight! Great energy!

The matches start with a sample from the opponent’s leader, nice touch! Then the camera swings around the stage and the track begins, the Pao Pao cafe theme fit really well. Sometimes it’s a shame to customise the track, I hope you listen to the default kof15 tracks for a bit before switching it all for the more nostalgic tracks.

Team Liberty was the most mysterious track, and had people scratching their heads when we tried to match it to a team.  Finally revealed for team Krohnen, it is perhaps the most laid back track but you can hear references with mechanical whirrs for Krohnen and some retro bleeps and is that the guitar referencing Nests?

The definite reference to the past tracks of K’ can be heard in KD-009q and it doesn’t stray too far from the formula, so it should be a pleaser for his fans.  It was suprising to find that this track goes with the beach stage… I wonder if we’ll find plans for another stage that didn’t manage production.

The Super Heroines track, sounds like something straight straight out of Persona, demonstrating SNK’s sound team has the versatility to capture the trend.

Speaking of Heroines, Ash’s track Slushy Road uses some familiar instruments… No doubt referencing Kukri’s past episode but also reminds you of Liz and Ash… Very good!  They didn’t name the composer but they also explained that the music didn’t fit at first so they re-did it.  I like these annotations and I think SNK should continue to give their work more history.

The sound design is incredible, maybe it’s usual for triple A titles, but you can hear Shermie’s boots scrape on the floor as she spins around, the plastic ball bearing inside Isla’s graffiti cans, and jewellery on Delores jingle.  People in the Esaka stage have various things to say, and it changes when you win or lose.  Press Shermie’s CD and she has three different speech samples. I could go on, I will go on, but only with Shermie lol.  It’s an absolute joy to press crouching B.  There are at least two sounds per move, I think.  Even as she walks, you can hear the leather squeaking against… er… other parts.  Here’s Ralf for a more SFW experience.

Oh and if you didn’t notice, KOD actually sounds like he’s inside a costume, that’s why he’s muffled. I’m not sure that was the best choice, but it was a cool attention to detail.

Gallery

The gallery contains all the movies in the game and the voice clips, handy if you want to customise your phone’s ring tones or notifications!  I have to say that the voice clips show a great talent in the acting, with an average of say 60 vocal recordings per character!  But why does Yashiro have 70 clips? Ahh the plot thickens.  Monster Maezuka used to do Ralf, Benimaru and Choi, but in KOFXV he only does Benimaru.  Ralf is now voiced by Bunsho Shinoya, and while one fan thought it was weird, he’s actually been the voice since 2009 in KOF12! Of course some fans yearn for the return of the iconic voice actors such as Iori’s Kunihiko Yasui but I think Takanori Hoshino does a perfectly respectable job for our favourite emo.  SNK has actually hired quite a few experienced anime and game voice actors for these roles, including Lynn (Princess Hibana from Fire Force, Aqua from Fire Emblem), Yuuko Kaida (Saori from Lost Judgement, Resident Evil, Log Horizon, God of Highschool, Food wars and Gintama) and Kenn (Final Fantasy XIV, Cells at Work, Demon Slayer, Jojo’s, My Hero Academia). All this may be lost on the casual player and was only communicated in Japanese on SNK’s sns but SNK should capitalise on their anime audience globally.  Sure there isn’t any English dubbing but there are plenty of fans who watch anime in Japanese language, so why not tell those fans too?  It might have created a bit more positive buzz and more work for the community manager (sorry KK)!

DJ Station

This mode opens up with Max welcoming you with so much literal announcer cheese you could make a fondue.  Objectively, it’s great and to be honest if I was as professional as Maxwell I’d be saying the same stuff and making adults cringe, heck I already sound cheesy as soon as I announce anything.  The younger audience should love it and that’s more important.  Maxwell is a fun and professional announcer, and nobody serious needs  an announcer, but  oh yes, in an arena of eSports competition, all that cheese is very very very necessary.  It brings ceremony to the event and requires a master of the mic.  Max describes match points, reminders of critical moments and some criticisms.  Did you know, he’s done a huge amount of voice acting on TV, and just randomly he’s the voice for Ultraman Trigger!

By the way, as the system voice and announcer of KOFXV, Max recorded ALL the samples in 2020, makes you wonder about game development, eh?  And he knew about Ash Crimson returning, all that time!

While you can casually flick through the tunes here, the real amazement comes from the custom settings.  Here you can assign your favourite tunes to ALL the stages.  This is so great and hopefully will be the standard from now on.

Strangely there’s no random feature for stages and neither do we get sound select before selecting the stage. Some people are fickle and we like options, on the other hand it’ll speed up the match.

As mentioned in the content review, there’s 300 songs in the DJ station but if you are tired of trying to find the team combinations to unlock DJ station, the list is here.  You will get tired of trying the teams, some of the combinations make no sense.

When you finally do customise your tracks and your favourite music starts on the menu screen, the nostalgia will hit you hard, right in solar plexus! Like ooooof, it’s a new kof with classic kof sounds! It’s an incredible feeling. And we can play online! Weeeeeee!

Some fans were hit HARD by the nostalgia.

FEELINGS.

No, I don’t think there’s much else to say.  After unlocking all the artworks in KOF14, and now the music in KOF15, SNK is gonna have to pull some rabbit out of a hat to impress fans with KOF16!

KOF XV Sound and Music 10/10

some random shuffle options would be nice but this is all just fantastic stuff regardless.  It’s probably one of the biggest selling points of the game, after the actual fighting itself.

If you need to unlock the music quickly, here’s the cheat sheet.

Next is the final part: Reception, then the final overall score.

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