Note: Originally uploaded on Kick-Punch-Block. Post has been slightly altered from original upload.
SNK’s King of Fighters series tends to be more mindful of color palettes than Street Fighter, but that hasn’t always been the case. It wasn’t really until KOF XI that the series started setting it’s mind to diverse palettes. Before then, from KOF 98 all the way up through KOF 2002, colors seemed to be made just for the sake of making it different in some way.
After around KOF 99–when SFIII:3S and Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Heritage for the Future came out–I start expecting more from a game’s palette selection. KOF 2002 did come out after this point, but it’s colors weren’t wholly terrible and it’s obvious that a real effort was made to step their game up. Even still, it wasn’t until KOF XI that the series really attempted to get it’s act together, pushing harder for more colors (12 colors per character), more diversity, and more fun choices.
Take it one game further and you reach KOF XIII, which blows it’s predecessors out of the water in terms of palettes. Not only did the game feature a color editor, allowing the player to craft their own colors if they didn’t find the existing ones suitable, but the 10 colors each character starts with are pretty distinguished in and of themselves. This may be due in part to a standardization of colors. Every second color is blue, every third color is green, and so on. This pattern gives each palette a clear focus, helping the SNK team craft around a specific color idea. The result is a clear boost in quality.
Now, we aren’t here to talk about KOF XI or KOF XIII. We’re talking about one character specifically, and as the title may have alluded to, that character is Angel. While I myself am not a huge KOF fan, Angel is one of the most visually pleasing characters I can find in the roster. Not because of any… assets she has, but because I have a tendency to be drawn to palettes with exposed legs and midriffs. It’s incredibly interesting color wise, as there are so many eye-catching palette options with such an attire. Angel herself has only appeared in a handful of games, primarily KOF 2002 and KOF XIV.
Here are her palettes from 2002:
There is some care that went into these. They aren’t perfect, but they tried, which seems to be the overall theme for 2002’s color palettes. I appreciate the range of hair colors. There is no stark change to skin pigment but she does ranges from very tan white to a very warm, nearly Brazilian tone. Her eye color remains the same in each color, which is minor but noticeable. As far as the colors, two of them use “red” as a main color, and two of them use “teal” either for a main or accent color. This wouldn’t bother me too much normally, but with only four colors I’d imagine a wider range of choices were available.
So, those were her old palettes. Here are her palettes from KOF XIV:
Now… there was a reason I rambled on about KOF XI and XIII. As a franchise, KOF has been advancing their palette selection. It was very apparent just looking from 2002 to XI, and then to XIII. One would assume that this course would continue into XIV, but that very clearly isn’t the case. Only four colors per character, less than even XI. They appear to be regressing back to the standard set by 2002, and perhaps a little further behind that. DLC colors are coming to the game soon, so hopefully they spice up the game’s color selection. For now, though, we have just these, so let’s quickly go over these colors and move on.
Three out of four of them have identical hair colors. These colors seem to be at least partially inspired by 2002, yet they lack any of the diversity in hair color. All four also have essentially the same skin tone. No variety whatsoever! This is also a step back from the variety of 2002. The gloves appear to be slightly different colors, but it’s barely possible to even tell. The brown for color 2’s boots seem really similar to color 4’s legs. The red on color 1’s boots seems really similar to color 3’s jacket. The pants on color 2 seems really close to the jacket on color 4. Color 1 and color 2’s jacket seem actually incredibly similar, enough so that without seeing them side by side you might not ever notice the color difference. Purple is the only standout clothing color that doesn’t seem to get recycled in another palette, and it leaves me with just a sense of disappointment.
Now, with all that out of the way, let’s get to some examples of what these colors could have been. Like before I’ll be using older sprites, specifically 2002 sprites. I’m not a professional, of course, these sprites are just meant to be an example of different avenues that could be explored. I think there is a lot of potential in Angel’s palette selection, and it would be a shame for it to never be capitalized on.
These first two are pretty innocent, and they actually feel like they could fit very well into the theme of palettes that already exist in KOF titles. The left one just takes the basic dark skin+white clothes and adds a bit of bubbly candy-esque tones with pink hair and accents. Dark skin palettes are far from uncommon in KOF games, so this is nothing revolutionary. The palette on the right is inspired by Rem from Re:Zero, but the basic black/blue/white tone is very common. It works well in most places, and feels like it works just as well on Angel.
These next few colors really pop. The first is an homage to the infamous Jessica Rabbit. These colors never seem to run out of fashion, and they look particularly well on Angel, matching her very provocative style. The second color isn’t based on anything in particular, and serves as a good example of how effective coloring revealed skin differently can give the appearance of latex undersuit or tights. All three colors just work well together, the teal, the green, and the black, and the ensemble just makes Angel look more solid and less vulnerable than she normally does.
These two colors start steering pretty far from normal KOF colors, but not too far away. Occasionally some inhuman tones are thrown in the mix, and are a pleasant site. The first color here is just a personal favorite of mine, as I love an outfit with revealing skin when the skin is red, but also drums up thoughts of Hellboy and Red She-Hulk. As I stated in the R.Mika article, this wide range of interpretation is important, as it creates more depth for players to impart onto their palettes. The other palette is one I thought of as a sort of “Toxic Gargoyle”, and drums up thoughts of characters such as Shego from Kim Possible. Again, depth of interpretation is important.
As I said in the prior article, whether or not you enjoyed these palettes is up to personal preference, but that is in part the point I want to make. Diversity is important, it lets a wide range of people find something they relate to, something they can enjoy in a game. Even if nothing about the gameplay but the palettes is changed, just a varied palette selection can do wonders in getting someone to stick around.