The King of Fighters '94
Image: SNK

Since its debut in the arcades back in 1994, The King of Fighters 94 has quite rightly been regarded as one of SNK's greatest-ever fighting games, kickstarting a series that continues even into the modern day.

However, not everybody always expected the game to be a total success. Recently, on Twitter, the former SNK artist Mitsuo Kodama gave his memories of working on the game in a tweet (to coincide with his birthday which he shares with the KoF's character Kyo Kusanagi). Here he revealed that he at one point feared the project would get cancelled after poor internal evaluations and was bracing for heartbreak, but was eventually encouraged after seeing a bunch of women fans fawning over the game at its first location test.

Here is a copy of the tweet in question (as translated by @gosokkyu):

"KOF94's internal evaluation was so low that I feared it'd be axed. Even I, whose one strength is baseless self-confidence, was bracing for heartbreak, but when I saw a gaggle of fawning fujoshis at the first loctest, our team pepped each other:'miracles could happen?'"

Interestingly, this isn't the first time someone associated with the project has mentioned a lack of faith in the game during its development. In an interview published on the official King of Fighters website, the character animator/front designer C.A.C Yamasaki also alluded to another team member having a lack of confidence in the project, before mentioning the same location test and claiming that only 10 people bothered to show up on the day to play the game.

"While we were developing KOF '94, it seems that the lead programmer thought the game wouldn't sell, but I thought it would catch on. I thought a lot of people would come to the location test, too. But only 10 people showed up for the first one"

According to Yamasaki, this number did eventually improve in later tests, and as we all know King of Fighters '94 ended up becoming a huge hit for SNK, eventually spawning various sequels and spin-offs, with the latest of these being 2022's The King of Fighters XV for PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and Windows.

[source, via]