The King of Fighters 2003 (commonly abbreviated KOF 2003) is a competitive fighting game produced by SNK Playmore for the Neo Geo arcade and home platforms in 2003. It is the tenth game in The King of Fighters series and the last one released for the Neo Geo, which served as the primary platform for the series since the very first game. It was ported to PlayStation 2 and Xbox, was released in North America as a two-in-one bundle with the preceding game in the series, The King of Fighters 2002.
The 3-on-3 Team Battle Format is applied in the game once again, just like the past editions. It also uses a Multi-Shift format that allows players to change characters during the middle of battle. When the “Change OK” sign is displayed above the Power Gauge, the player can do a Quick Shift and change characters immediately, or perform a Switch-Off Attack against the opponent that will consume one Power Gauge stock.
The game also features a Tactical Leader System, in which one of the members of the team is designated as the Leader. The chosen Leader can have an access to an exclusive move known as the “Leader Super Special Move” (in addition to the regular “Super Special Moves”). However, this usually requires two Power Gauge stocks to be able to perform it.
As in the last game in the series, the players’ Power Gauge can hold up to 3 stocks at the beginning of a match. Unlike the previous game, however, the player starts with a full gauge of three stocks right away. When one team loses one of its members, the maximum capacity of Power Gauge stocks is increased by one, giving the losing team a handicap against the opposing team. In addition, unlike the previous KOF games, each hit only earns the player 100 points.