The King of Fighters 2000 puts all its focus on the Strikers, greatly expanding the system from the previous game. Now each character has an individual counterpart that can be chosen as a Striker. These alternates aren’t actually playable characters, but SNK took this opportunity to do a ton of fan service by taking characters from other games.
Some of them are just alternate designs of existing characters but others include Kim Sue Il from Kizuna Encounter, Fio from Metal Slug, Kaede from The Last Blade, Duke from Burning Fight and many more. It even brings in Syo Kirishima, the original unused design and name for Kyo Kusanagi, which really reaches back into the series’ history. Some older characters like Vice, Mature and various members of the Orochi team also return as Strikers. There are also hidden “Maniac Strikers” activated via a code. The emphasis on these Strikers makes KoF 2000 even more unbalanced than usual, though.
The new fully playable characters are Vanessa, Seth, Ramon, Lin and Hinako. Kula makes her first appearance as well, although she’s initially a mid-boss. The final boss is Zero, who attacks with an astoundingly well animated cape. King of Fighters 2000 also has one of the best soundtracks of the series, first and foremost Goodbye Esaka, one of Kyo’s coolest theme songs. Unfortunately, Whip’s gun move is still gone in the American versions of the game, plus Mai’s chest jiggling has been removed, but only in her idle pose.
The King of Fighters 2000 was ported to Dreamcast, and was released twice for the PlayStation 2. The Dreamcast version features sliding tile puzzles, which are pretty lame. This is missing from the initial PlayStation 2 version, but instead has unlockable videos of all of the intros up until 2000, but the requirements for obtaining them are absurd. It also fixes up some of the minor slowdown experienced in certain areas from the Dreamcast version. Both ports contain additional Strikers and lots of backgrounds from old SNK games, including Samurai Shodown, Metal Slug, and various King of Fighters episodes.
The second release for the PlayStation 2 is included in the NESTS Pack, with both the original arcade version and the Dreamcast version. Other than online play, there is little to differentiate this from the former standalone releases.