The time is almost upon us, my FGC brothers & sisters. Can you feel that electricity in the air? Are you ready for the heat? KOF is (almost) here again! This month's Character Battle is going to kick off an entire month of KOF-centric content from yours truly, so buckle up & let's start the show...
So I don't think I really need to elaborate on how excited we are for KOF XIV here at KPB since it probably goes without saying, but we have some big plans in the works for it. Anyways, since this is an entirely new chapter in the series, we've been passively introduced to a lot of new characters. One in particular that stands out is Shun'ei, the new protagonist. Not much to be known about him just yet aside from who has his back this tournament. That got me to thinking about the male leads of the past sagas. Kyo notwithstanding (because he never really left the spotlight), this month's Character Battle is to determine who is the Better Male Lead!
Full disclosure, folks: this is the first time I've ever conducted one of these matchups with two characters I'm actually not all that fond of in terms of gameplay. Their personalities we'll talk about in just a bit, but from a purely mechanical standpoint, these two have never really clicked with me. K' is cool & all, but he's not dreadfully effective when it comes to my typically aggressive/rushdown style. As for Ash, I'm just a total dunce when it comes to charge characters. Not proud of that, but it's the truth & I'd prefer to be honest with you.
Stylistically, these two are very much so the products of the times in which they were originally designed. K' made his debut during the age of the Matrix, where (seemingly) everyone needed to be clad in black leather. I never understood that trend, but I won't try to downplay the fact that an aptly timed leather jacket can up one's cool factor a little bit. Ash, on the complete opposite side of the spectrum, has a more flamboyant style to him. Also, part of that full disclosure I mentioned earlier, I was admittedly one of the people who thought Ash was a female the first time I saw him. His particular look & mannerism is very androgynous, no getting around that. Their appearances play into their personalities fairly well.
However, regarding their worth as a compelling protagonist, the personality factor puts one character way above the other. You see, K' is typical disinterested, antisocial rogue. The problem with having that type of dismissive chip on your shoulder regarding pretty much everything & everyone is that it leaves you relatively devoid of personality. As such, K' pretty much takes a backseat to almost every other character that debuted during the NESTS Saga. This is painstakingly true in the example of Kula Diamond. Hell, even Maxima has more charm to him than K' does & he's a Canadian cyborg! Let that sink in for a minute. To make matters worse, the whole storyline bares one too many similarities with Shadaloo's modus operandum of genetic replication to keep most players from not calling them out on it. "Send in the clones", am I right?
On the other side that proverbial coin, Ash has so much personality (what do you want from him?) that they named the Saga after him. He wasn't just some aloof bystander, either, despite how he may have carried himself during all of the tournaments. His apparent detachment from the proceedings notwithstanding, he was deeply involved with the overarching plot. Here's a guy who came out of nowhere & stole two of the three Sacred Treasures from their vessals with seemingly minimal effort. In fact, he was even on Heidern's radar towards the climax of the story & you really, REALLY need to be a heavy hitter to get his attention.
Because of all these different factors & despite my proficiency with these characters, this a flat out no contest. As cool as he is portrayed to be throughout all of his appearances, K' never really did anything outside of the usual "show up & beat the bad guy" schtick. Ash, though, (quite literally) rewrote history during the grand finale of his story arc. Regardless of how I may feel about someone's efficiency, I cannot overlook such an amazing sacrifice.
WINNER: ASH CRIMSON
Until next time... keep fighting the good fight, my friends.