OK, I'll get it out of the way, right off the bat: I suck at 2-D fighters. I have never been able to win at one using anything but sheer luck, executed by furiously mashing the buttons. All the talk of "Auto Doubles" and "Combos" gave me hope that I might be able to play KI Gold instead of guessing at it.
Recommend this product?
Fortunately, the practice mode was quite helpful. It lets you learn each move without having the pressures of ensuing combat. The problem was that after moving through the practice levels, I couldn't figure out just how to apply what I had done to the actual game. I couldn't even remember half of the moves.
After puzzling at the manual's lessons in KI "Theory," I think I figured out what the gameplay is about. You memorize your character's moves, and in a fight each move fits in on a predetermined rank of moves. This rank is compared with whatever the other player is doing, and if you have a higher rank, you get to do more damage. You can continue to do more damage by executing a predetermined (and memorized) move just after your last one. It's all very complicated, and in my experience, very random. I could be wrong with this analysis, but it's the best I can do.
The bottom line is that you really need to take the time to memorize a player's moves to get anywhere without a sore thumb. I don't find it much fun having to spend time memorizing and practicing abstract button combinations and lists before I play a video game.
The interesting thing is that one of my friends was able to finish the game simply by mashing buttons. I found that rapidly moving my thumbs in big circles let me execute really wild moves. The game also moves too fast for the combos and such to be practical for me, so I always ended up mashing buttons. I am very impressed that there are players out there that can actually win and know what they're doing with KI Gold.
If you love 2-D fighting games, then I suppose this review has put you to sleep by now, but I was disappointed that I couldn’t find any sense of logic to how the game played. To be honest (and please don't flame me for saying this) the only fighting game I've ever played that felt to me like I was controlling a fight, is Virtua Fighter 2. The simple Punch, Kick, Block control of VF2 actually led me to try and plan an attack in terms of counter punching, etc.
If you aren't like me (you have lots of experience with 2-D fighters and fighting games in general), then I think you'll find the play responsive and a nice combination of Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat. The graphics are sharp, the characters are OK, and the special moves can be fun to watch. The 3-D backgrounds also add some spice to the game. There are lots of options (you can earn different options by beating the game on higher difficulties), and the characters feel different from one another. Rare did a good job of not only bringing the arcade home, but of adding new and improved features as well. Even for expert players, I would guess that the practice mode would let them learn new characters faster, and the multi-player tourneys add value to the game's high cost.
My lack of experience aside, I found KI Gold to be a solid example of the genre. If you are a fan of the 2-D fighter, then I think you may find KI Gold worth at least renting. If you're a fan of the KI series, then you will definitely want to check out KI Gold.
I realize that this review may be slightly controversial. If I reviewed KI Gold without explaining my past experience with fighting games, and my understanding of the gameplay (which is slim at best), then I would not be giving you an accurate review. I am the only one writing for this site, so I have tried to write the best, most objective review I could. I hope that both experienced and inexperienced 2-D fighters found this review helpful.