The King of Fighters ’96 is a 1996 fighting game released by SNK for the Neo Geo arcade and home consoles. It is the third game in The King of Fighters series, following The King of Fighters ’95. Like its predecessor, the game was ported to the Neo-Geo CD, as well as the PlayStation and Sega Saturn. Unlike the previous game, the PlayStation and Saturn versions were released only in Japan, with a language setting allowing the player to set the game to English. It is also part of the compilation The King of Fighters Collection: The Orochi Saga for the PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable and Wii. It was also released on the Wii Virtual Console in Japan on February 15, 2011, in North America on July 12, 2012 and in the PAL region on November 22, 2012.
The game made a few changes to gameplay such as new techniques, various changes of some teams, with a few of them introducing new characters. The plot follows a new King of Fighters tournament created by Chizuru Kagura, the heir of Yata Clan who wants to find and recruit Kyo Kusanagi, who defeated the previous KOF host, Rugal Bernstein, to ask him and his bitter rival, Iori Yagami, to help her in the sealing of the Orochi demon. The new boss is one of the servants from Orochi, Goenitz, who appears after Chizuru is defeated.
SNK members had various troubles with the development of the game as they were dragged on right up to the time of its scheduled release. This happened since developers had difficulties with making the sprites and special moves of new characters from the game. The game has had mixed reviews from several video games publications. While some reviewers have praised the graphical improvements and the addition of new characters, some have commented it was unbalanced in comparison to its prequels.