SNK Playmore released its game line-up for the upcoming Tokyo Game Show, and on the list was a bit of a surprise–a PS2 remake of King of Fighters '94, the game that launched the VS fighting game craze.
The official title of the remake is King of Fighters '94 Re-Bout. Not much is known about the game yet, except that it won't simply be a plain vanilla port-job of the original 1994 Neo Geo game. Whether that involves a graphical update, new characters, or other goodies, we won't know until the game debuts at the TGS. The release date for King of Fighter 94' Re-Bout in Japan is December 2004.
One thing is certain, SNK Playmore is going to need to gussy the game up quite a bit so that SNK Neo Geo USA Corp. (its American branch) can release the game in North America. Up to now, Sony Computer Entertainment America has denied licenses to every SNK game using 2D graphics that hasn't been part of a 2-pack.
SCEA denied SNK USA licenses for Metal Slug 3, Samurai Shodown 5, and SVC Chaos. Metal Slug 3 is currently available for the Xbox, and SVC Chaos is coming out for Microsoft's console in North America at the end of September. Sony did not nix the PS2 releases of King of Fighters 2000 and King of Fighters 2001, because SNK Neo Geo USA sold the games as a value-priced 2-pack here in the states.
The remainder of SNK Playmore's PS2 line-up includes King of Fighters 2003, King of Fighters: Maximum Impact, Metal Slug PS2 (a new one?), and Metal Slug 4.
King of Fighters: Maximum Impact is a brand new KOF game that uses 3D graphics. It's scheduled to be released by SNK USA in North America in October. King of Fighters 2003 will be coming to North America as part of a 2-pack (coupled with King of Fighters 2002) in December. Metal Slug 4 will be coming to North America as part of a 2-pack (bundled with Metal Slug 5) in February 2005.
Since it seems to be 2-pack or bust (Tupac or bust? hah!) with regards to SNK's 2D fighting games, it looks like there's a good chance that King of Fighters '94 Re-Bout won't be approved by SCEA. Fans of SNK may need to go the import route on this one, much like they did with Samurai Shodown 5 earlier this summer.
FYI, the Tokyo Game Show (Japan's version of E3) is due to take place from September 24th through 26th. The show is open to the public, so if you're in Japan around that time, you can buy a ticket and just walk right in.