The King of Fighters 12: A $75 demo

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If I’m understanding the official King of Fighters website correctly, the series is up to 2,004 games now. That sounds about right — over the past few years, hasn’t a new edition come out every three days or so? And we old-timers used to make fun of Street Fighter….

Oh wait, “2003″ was a year, not a chapter count. OK, so I admit, I’m not the world’s biggest KOF expert. But even though the series isn’t at 2000+ titles, 12 is still a big number by anyone’s count. Big enough that seeing a demo of The King of Fighters 12, due out this July for the PS3 and 360, wasn’t really that high on our priority list here on Bitmob.

That is, until we found out who was doing the demo.


Shane Bettenhausen has made the rare switch from gaming editorial to the world of power ties, power meetings, and PowerPoints. He’s a suit now. Shane — a former EGM/1UP co-worker, an accused Sony fanboy, the personality you loved to hate on the old 1UP Yours podcast, and a bull-headed old friend — is now the Director of New Business Development at publisher Ignition Entertainment.

Ignition’s PR firm, Fortyseven Communications, recently reached out to us to see if we were interested in having Shane demo KOF12 for us. That’s a “hell yes” if there ever was one. We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see the guy who used to give us so many headaches (and a few laughs here and there) behave himself and professionally demo a product for us. How did the former journalist turned suit do? Well, you know what they say about old habits.


You see, Shane has sort of a gambling problem, but it’s limited to betting on head-to-head videogames. It stems from his over-competitiveness: If he thinks he can beat you, he wants bonus bragging rights in the form of cash payments. Too bad for him, he’s been on the losing end during his time at EGM with me.

Thanks mainly to Tetris Attack and Soul Calibur, Shane has racked up over $1,400 in losses to me over the years. I’ve managed to collect $1,100 before he skipped town to L.A. for Ignition, so I just assumed I was never going to see the remaining $300 (Shane doesn’t like paying off his debts, so I had to use some serious trickeration to collect — but that’s another story for another day). In fact, I forgot all about that $300 until Shane decided he’d rather play me for money than just demo KOF12 for us like a normal demo dude.

Shane was a bit cocky at first, having played the game already and assuming I’ve never played KOF before (also, “cocky” is in his nature to begin with)…until I name-dropped my favorite characters: the Bogard brothers. He decided then to take me more seriously, and while I put up a decent fight for my first time playing KOF in who knows how long, I couldn’t withstand his Kyo/Athena/Ash onslaughts.

After a few $5, $10, and $20 matches and showering me with fire attacks, purple magic, and green bubbles, Shane came away slightly better off than where he started. He only owes me $225 now (which I still don’t expect he’ll ever pay).


Oh, and about the game itself: bright and colorful sprites, clan support, eight-player rooms, and 22 characters (which would normally be more than enough, but maybe not by KOF standards).

But placing bets on head-to-head matches in KOF12 brings me back to a special time for me — a time before Soul Calibur 4 and Street Fighter 4 when I was still at the EGM/1UP offices and could jump into a pick-up game any time of the day with my co-workers.

Yes, we have online play now and the occasional get-together at a friend’s house, but it’s not quite the same. It was always “quarter up” arcade-style play around the old offices, only without the cigarette smoke and sketchy thug kids whom you were scared to actually beat.

So Shane somehow managed to help me recapture some of that old competitive magic. Sure, KOF12 is nostalgic on its own with its traditional 2D gameplay full of fireball, dragon punch, and charge back/down moves, but I think Shane knew what he was doing when he looked at me before our first match and asked simply, “Five dollars?”

Maybe he’s a savvier business guy than I give him credit for, pulling some trickeration on me and getting me to write about his game.

If he wanted me to like The King of Fighters 12 more, however, he should’ve written me a check for $225.


We’ll leave you with this choice quote from Shane Bettenhausen regarding KOF12′s Ash:
“He’s gay, he paints his nails, and he’s awesome!”

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