Released in November 2003, KOF2k3 represents the latest opus in the series to run on the SNK Neo-Geo MVS hardware.
Two new systems have been adopted : 'Tactical Leader System' which sets up a leader favorably treated in capability in a team and 'Multi-Shift' in which player characters can be changed freely during 3 on 3 battle.
About Ash Crimson : Unlike the usual KOF hero characters, Ash was designed with the intent to create an 'attractive evil character'. Because the supervising designer created a rough design that fit the desired appearance to a 'T', little was changed for this character's design. Incidentally, the team story quotes casually from Robert Browning's 'Spring Song', but no one on the staff took interest in this (Boo hoo). And the bit about Shanghai Crabs was the original material for the character 'Rojin'.
About Duo Long : When speaking of the Flying Brigands, you have quite a collection of especially unique-looking characters, but Duo Long is, unlike those of his ilk so far, an orthodox, handsome character. The model for this character is a certain Romanian vampire and hunter with the same first letter for his name. A subtly embroidered dragon is depicted on the back of Duo Lon's costume, but according to the illustration's supervising designer Falcoon, this character sports a detailed character that follows the steady work of traditional craftsmen with the scales drawn one at a time...
About Shen Woo : The first concept for this character was a wild and sexy guy. The development codename for him was ''The Third Man'', and along those lines he became Woo Shen, his name 'flip-flopping' to the current name, and the latter moniker seemed to stick. Because Ash has his particular appearance (LAUGH), Shen, no matter how you look at it, appears more like the main character. His character closely resembles certain aspects of Ralf and Yashiro in many ways, so designers toiled to create distinctive moves for this character. According to the supervising designer, 'What knotted my stomach most was the shortness of time we had for development'.
About Tizoc : To tell the truth, Raiden was to appear in KOF 2003, but before the characters were finally decided on, Tizoc took his place. Along with the change to KOF 2003's game system, designers were able to create movements heretofore impossible with KOF until now, allowing us to add the style of Tizoc for that very reason. It's unclear whether there were plans or not to introduce Grant from "Garou - Mark of the Wolves
" along with Tizoc for a friendly tag team battle. It may not be very well known, but the Japanese name for Tizoc is 'Griffon Mask'. But we felt Tizoc for the English version had a nice ring to it.
About Gato : Keeping the demands of the Chinese market in mind, designers included a user of orthodox Chinese boxing in the game to follow our marketing plans and enter the battle with Tizoc from "Garou - Mark of the Wolves
". Halfway through the development process, he became the character that was busy getting burned, frozen, and slapped around with a giant metal ball by other characters to experiment with the overhauled program. When Gato appeared, many groundless rumors circulated that 'Hotaru had made a comeback' and other such rumors to the same. Whatever command you enter, be aware that Hotaru Futaba is nowhere to be found in KOF 2003, and Gato is here to stay!
About Malin : KOF 2003 saw the absence of Choi Bounge, so why not make a nimble and cute girl character?! And with that sentiment, Malin was born. It took quite an effort to arrive at the initial design for this character, but when we entered the actual work for KOF 2003, the creation of this character was a piece of cake. In the appearance sequence, the supervising designer poured his sincerity into the transformation scene. But the Arcadia magazine realized that she wasn't included in their feature articles and regretted their mistake. If you consider our preferences, designers insisted on the spelling for this character to be 'Malin' and not 'Marin'. This is the humble preference of the supervising designer and a mystery to us all.
About Maki Kagura : If the younger sister Chizuru Kagura is the stork, the elder sister Maki Kagura's name comes from the tortoise (storks live a thousand years, but tortoises live 10,000). The background story for these two twins comes from KOF '96, but with their appearance in KOF 2003, some designers suggested Maki's hair be shortened to distinguish her from her kid sister. She appears in KOF 2003 as she always does (Her bangs are slightly different, however, so people who have confidence in their powers of observation, beware!). For the location test of KOF 2003, many players who defeated Chizuru were vanquished by the awesome elder sister Maki. So the fate of players was often decided with the appearance of Maki-you just don't mess around with this character!
About Adelheid : To widen the worldview of KOF with the desire to add a separate story to the main tale, designers added this character devised as a set with her kid sister Rose. Designers think many picked up on this, but Adelheid is a common female name among Swiss and Germans, and is the name from which the diminutive of Heidi's derives. In the Adelheid stage of KOF 2003, the soundtrack begins with Chopin's 'Revolutionary Etude', but including something like this on the NEO-GEO system required a huge amount of memory which overwhelmed the voice data of other characters. Designers believe it was worth it, but producers may have dissed the supervising designers of other characters in the process.
About Rose : If Hinako was the modern, unconventional 'na?f', Rose is the classic 'sophisticate' character. She has an overpowering sense of pride and high-handedness. She's also selfish and moody. If things don't go her way, watch out! But she's a real babe and not only that, she's rich! (Laugh). The voice actor for Rose also worked on Malin and Maki Kagura. Because she had a tough schedule providing the voice for three characters in one day, she was really put through a tough trial. The staff regrets this and gives their thanks from the bottom of the ocean.
About Mukai : With the belief that a fighting game boss 'must be easy to understand', designers adopted the 'ability to fossilize' to give impact to Mukai's presence. Designers then matched the design of this character to this ability. So as far as the procedure of development is concerned, Mukai was quite an unorthodox creation. The concept and design came off without a hitch, but arriving at his name was a difficult process. He's among the first of the KOF series boss characters who would be graced with the Japanese honorific of '-san'.
Leona, Ralph and Clark are playable characters in the Foma 90x Series Mobile Phones game 'Metal Slug Survivors'.
Scitron Digital Content released a limited-edition soundtrack album for this game (The King of Fighters 2003 Original Sound Trax - SCDC-00337) on 24/04/2004.
Hacks of this game are known as :
"The King of Fighters 2004 Plus
"The King of Fighters 2004 Ultra Plus