The King of Fighters 2002 UM/FAQ
I'm new to KOF/02UM. Where do I start?
If you don't know KOF at all, start here:
If you have the basic KOF stuff down and are more interested in what 02UM has to offer:
What's the standard ruleset?
Much like the KOF's before it, 2002UM has the traditional 3-on-3 team battle system where the players can pick 3 characters to use to battle their opponent. Boss characters are banned and you can't pick the same character twice or with his EX version (e.g. EX Robert, Orochi Chris).
What's the meter system?
2002UM runs the 5 by 5 meter system, meaning in the first round both sides (1P & 2P) can only hold 3 meters at max. If a player loses a round (K.O. or Time Out) the losing player will be able to hold yet another meter, the max being 5 meters while being on their last character. Gaining meter is done by attacking the opponent, taking damage from the opponent, or guarding the opponents attacks.
3 by 3
4 by 3
3 by 4
5 by 3
3 by 5
4 by 4
5 by 4
4 by 5
5 by 5
What are the differences between 02og and 02um?
02UM adds all missing characters from 99-2001, along with the bosses (however, those are typically banned in tournament play and disabled in online play unless the player wants them). It also re-balances most of the cast and adds new moves and such. Most of 02 bugs and outrageous moves are gone from 02um. The Max Mode system also gets some changes, supercanceling during Max Mode is now free, making a lot of the combos far more streamlined. However, the damage from specials in max mode is also reduced by the higher scaling, making characters a bit more even in their damage output all while giving more characters reliable routes to use in max mode.
Aside from that, new soundtrack, better UI and training mode with a lot of new features including recording, plus a recent rollback netcode update. Without a doubt, 02um is an improvement on every level.
I saw a different version of one character. How do I pick that version?
The game features alternate versions of some characters, essentially reworked versions that appeared in previous games. They usually share the same normals (buttons + command normals) as their originals with a few exceptions and/or differences in properties on some of the shared normals and mostly have a different special moveset making them often play completely differently.
To pick them you simply need to press and hold the start button when highlighting the originals. All the ex characters are:
- Ex Robert for Robert
- Ex Kensou for Kensou
- Orochi Yashiro for Yashiro
- Orochi Shermie for Shermie
- Orochi Chris for Chris
- Ex Takuma for Takuma
- Nightmare Geese for Geese (banned)
All these characters are either as strong or stronger than their originals, you might not like the original version but come to love the alternate. Be sure to check them out! (
What characters are easiest/hardest to learn?
A chart that is much more simply based on how easy, advanced or hard are the characters in KoF 2002 Unlimited Match to pick up, play and optimize.
Green - Easy | Yellow - Advanced | Red - Hard
That's a lot of Kyo's, best boi so full respect but are they different?
In short: Kusanagi and Kyo-1 are versions of 95 Kyo, who at the time of 02UM was the last Kyo with a projectile, while Kyo and Kyo-2 are of 96 Kyo, who traded his projectile for his rekka chain that year. Kyo and Kusanagi have standard Kyo normals/command normals but Kyo-1 and Kyo-2 have some weird/experimental feel to them, with some unorthodox moves and properties, fittingly hinting at them being NESTS experiments using Kyo's DNA.
1 by 1 comparison:
- Kyo is the final product of 99 Nests Kyo. Rekkas with extra enders, RED Kick and hcb+B/D for juggles sums it up. A slight difference from 02 Kyo is addition of his 99 qcfx2+P super. He has somewhat easier routes on the surface but also packs tough and very damaging max mode combos.
- Kusanagi is a buffed version of 95 Kyo. Projectile, run grab hcb+K and rdp+K, but with a twist. Kusanagi df+D's 1st hit is cancelable, which makes for a huge buff on his strings whether on block or hit, making him also very similar to 13 Kyo. Much like Kyo, he has some easy routes but also tougher and the most damaging max mode combos of all Kyo's.
- Kyo-1 is a weird version of 95 Kyo. Main difference being his lack of DP for some new moves. He also gets an ability to OTG the opponent with his -somewhat slow- projectile, and his new df+C and qcfx2+P. While he struggles midscreen to get on par with the other Kyo's, he gets very good damage in corner with a fairly easy route.
- Kyo-2 is a weird version of 96 Kyo. Most obvious difference is his lack of the upkicks and Orochinagi. That said, his cr.D, similar to Kyo's df+D, has a cancelable first hit that he can combo into things (much like cr.MK in Street Fighter). He also gets some weird but neat tricks, like canceling jump B into j.d+C and a new super cancelable rekka ender that causes guard break. He's the Kyo with the most easy but solid damage in max mode (at the expense of meterless combos/strings).
- Shingo is a fake Kyo. He looks like him on paper with similar buttons and DP, but is actually pretty different. Packing his own versions of 95 Kyo's run grab and rdp+K as well as 96 Kyo's qcf+P rekka and rdp+K, they all really just look like the originals but with with different properties and usages, like his 'run grab' and 'qcf+P rekka' respectively not being a grab and a rekka. He also has an original move, his dp+K proximity unblockable. Despite being a fraud, his damage is nothing to laugh at as his max combos are more damaging than most of Kyo's while being infinitely easier to pull off. Sadly, even that much won't cover his many issues, like his horrible dp+P.
I can't make any sense of this game's record function. How do you even use it?
The game separates commands from p1 and p2 sides so each character can store two commands that can then be played using the command button you can set in controls. The default commands for every character on p1 and p2 are respectively a basic meterless bnb and 2 bar combo of the character. You can easily picture how useful that was back then without a wiki or match footage to look combos up and more so for characters that aren't really intuitive like Vanessa or Yamazaki.
The command menu's functions are fairly intuitive but to briefly go over the useful ones:
- Record brings you back to the game where you can:
- Press the select button of the player who entered the menu for the game to clear the current command and record the next 10 seconds of said player's inputs on that slot.
- Press select to restart the recording midway if you messed up and start or your keyboard's Esc to finish the recording if you're done early.
- Check brings you back to the game to -as the name suggests- check anything you need, whether it's the current command or the command you're trying to record. ( In Record, the command stays as the last saved one. )
- Skill shows the character's movelist in case you forgot a move's motion.
- Edit lets you manually edit the current command you can partly see in the menu. Skipping the obvious stuff:
- Pressing LP/A or selecting the F on the edit board lets you change the number of frames the input you're on is pressed/held for, left/right/up/down for -1/+1/+10/-10 frames.
- S is for simultaneous inputs of buttons with or without a direction. Start or the board's END to stop editing.
This is useful when you want to record something simple, you can just Clear the current command and edit in what you want (a move, then crouch blocking for example).
- Exit to exit to the training menu and save the new command or Cancel to exit without saving.
The dummy is on p2 so naturally, you need to record the command you want on that side's slot. Once that's understood, doing it is rather simple:
- You're gonna need to use p2 buttons so press start, go to help and options, then controls and :
- If you're using keyboard or have another controller, use that for p2 after configuring it if needed.
- If you only have 1 controller that isn't kb. In controls, highlight "controller" at the top of p2's side and press p2's LK/B or click on it with the mouse and then press any button on your p1 controller for it to become p2's controller and reconfigure it.
- You can later do the opposite to put the controller back as p1 and the game will remember the settings for said controller type on either side so you won't have to configure it again when changing the controller's side in the future.
- In the training room press start with p1 and for "Control" pick "Player" so that p2 can control the dummy.
- Enter the command menu with p2's LK/B button so the game knows you want to change that side's slot.
- You can now use p2's controls to edit the command or record w/e you want for the dummy, then exit to save.
- Back to the training menu, either go back in the game and use p2's command button to manually play the recording or put "Control" back to "CPU", "Attack" to "Command" and the dummy will execute the p2 command you just recorded. In the latter case starting the command with a neutral jump can help to then get ready for it.
The second big part of KoF's mobility, running. It's not merely how you move your character around but actually an intricate part of the game's system like the running charge and Max Mode.
A run is triggered by a quick double forward input, f, f, and you can then hold forward or down-forward(df) before the run is over to continue running. (holding the second f input that activated the run works) There are two things to note:
- There's a minimal length to running. Only double-tapping forward and letting go, your character will run for exactly 10 frames before stopping, that is the minimal run, and if you run for more than 10f+recovery, you get a long run. You can only jump forward during the minimal run but it's useful for connecting moves just out of reach :
- One example is Kusanagi's "qcf+D>D, rdp+D" conversion in midscreen. After qcf+D>D, you aren't in range for rdp+D to fully connect. Double-tapping forward after qcf+D>D triggers the minimal run during which you can then input rdp+D so that it comes out just as the run is ending to perfectly reach and connect. This means you have around 10f to input rdp+D rather than to manually run to get in range, then stop, then input rdp+D in time.
- Running has a recovery, 2 frames for most characters. It doesn't affect command normals, specials or standard double inputs -AB,BC,CD-, those will always come out, it only affects buttons and consequently normal throws. Minimal and long runs behave differently :
- During those 2f after a minimal run, the game is only waiting for you to decide if you want to continue running or not, thus won't respond to any other input than f/df.
- If you end a long run with f/df+button, the game will eat your button if you hold it for the next frame or the next two frames, being recovery. It'll allow it if you hold it longer or don't hold it at all.
These are the reasons why sometimes you hit a button after a run but nothing happens.
To avoid your button getting eaten:
- For a minimal run, you need to properly input the button before the 10 active frames of the run are over or after 10f+2f have passed.
- After a long run, you need to properly either keep holding f/df for at least 4f after pressing f/df+button you want or cleanly let go f/df before pressing your button.. You can't slightly let go of f/df before pressing it again with a button for less than the 2f of run-recovery which can happen when you're tapping the button and slightly moving your hand to get ready for the confirm/combo you want.
I heard you can charge moves while moving in KoF, how?
KoF is a game where movement is mandatory, to the point you could argue that if you're stuck in place for a while, then more often than not you and/or your opponent are doing something wrong. With such a premise, the old trend of charge characters having to crouch all day wouldn't quite fit. That's where running comes in.
You can hold down-forward(df) instead of forward(f) to run. Doing so makes you charge down while running, thus your opponent can't rule out a flashkick anti-air/reversal because you're running. Added to that, while charging is usually required for 60 frames -a full second- in other games, it's half of that in KoF, 30 frames, half a second. Thx to that, as long as you have a move with, for example, enough hitstun, even using your charge moves in combos isn't limited to ones you started while crouching or holding back. You can also count that charge moves don't need to be charged when canceling or recovering from a move that connected in max mode so you can freely use them in max combos.
This makes charge characters a much different beast than in other titles. If you thought that playing a charge character was just lame and boring, KoF's got you covered with plenty of interesting charge characters (Heidern, Ex Robert, Leona, etc) and a very mobile way of playing them. Give them all a shot!
Damn, some of these cancels involve way too long motions. Aren't there any shortcuts?
Remember that last combo video you saw and thought "how the hell is this guy canceling these moves into each other so fast? This game looks hella hard!"? Well, it's true 20% of the time, but it's often easier than you'd think at first. Although there are some exceptions, and of course the faster pace of the game comes into play, difficulty in KoF combos compared to other titles is usually due to how clean your execution needs to be more than how much you need to input in little time. KoF isn't aiming to make your fingers go 60 miles an hour and as such, you've got shortcuts and longcuts to soften your workload.
There are a number of useful shortcuts for cancels to use in KoF but before getting to those, it's important to note two things:
- Diagonals in half circle motions don't matter in KoF as in hcf/b motions will work even if you omit the diagonals. Ex: hcb = f, df, d, db, b = f, d, b
- A repeating input between two motions, can be omitted. For instance in qcf,hcb = d, df, f,
f, df, d, db, b, the second forward input can be ignored.
(These two rules are common to every KoF but a few exceptions, the most well-known of them being KoF 2003.)
You'd usually need to go out of your way to do some of these motions that way but it can be pretty useful in some cases. If we apply the two rules respectively qcf,hcb = d, df, f, f,
df, d, db, b = d, df, f, f, d, db, b = qcf, qcb which can be an easier way to do qcf, hcb in some cases.
It's important to note that the input reader is still fairly lenient. As long as your inputs aren't all over the place you can be forgiven, an example is although dp = f, d, df you can do it as f, d, df, f (f, qcf) which is better for people who don't like stopping at df.
Those are the rules at the core of shortcuts.
When you perform a motion, the game keeps it in a buffer (30f in 02um and most likely older KoFs). If you want to cancel the ongoing move during that allowed time and the two motions overlap, you can simply input the remaining part of the next move's motion.
For example, if you want to cancel Iori's dp+P into his qcf,hcb+P, you can simply do dp+P as f, qcf+P and since qcf,hcb+P can be done as qcf,qcb+P, you simply need to input qcb+P after the dp before the buffer runs out for the game to read qcf, qcb+P aka qcf,hcb+P, Iori's Maiden Masher DM. Following this example, you simply need to look out for overlapping end and start of two moves' motions to find an easier way to cancel one into the other. If you have trouble with it at first, be sure to ask one of the more knowledgeable members on the appropriate discord server. We'll be happy to help: 02UM server, DreamCancel server
It's weird, I'm getting a super when I'm not even doing the complete motion. Can I get around that?
As useful as they most certainly are, KoF's shortcuts come at a price. We learned in that segment that Iori's dp+P xx qcf,hcb+P cancel can actually be done as simply as f,qcf+P xx qcb+P but qcb+P is one of Iori's moves, one he really wants to cancel from dp in his max combos for juggle. Fortunately enough, Iori's dp+C's cancellable window is bigger than the buffer so after getting used to delaying it, it's not much of an issue but what about the moves with tinier cancellable windows? What if the player needs to cancel fast rather than delay ?
The answer is longcuts. As opposed to shortcuts, it's lengthening a move's motion in order to, in most cases, make an upcoming cancel more manageable.
The most used longcut in KoF is the dp's. Just like you can input it as f,qcf you can also input dp as hcb,f. Let's have a look at how Kusanagi uses it.
- A cancel Kusanagi wants to go for in max mode is dp+C xx qcf+D but if you do it as f,qcf+C xx qcf+D, there's an overlap with his qcf,qcf+K super which takes priority and comes out instead. You can only cancel his dp+C on the first hit so you can't delay it enough to outdo the buffer either. Doing dp as hcb,f = f, df, d, db, b, f , the first qcf the game need to trigger super is nowhere to be found in the dp's motion anymore so you can safely do qcf+D to cancel into that move.
- Another cancel Kusanagi wants is dp+C xx qcb,hcf+P which can be done raw but it's fairly tight. An easier way to do it is to input the dp as hcb,f = f, df, (d, db, b), f = f, df, qcb, f then as qcb,hcf=qcb,qcf, the player only needs to input the remaining qcf+P to get the cancel.
One flaw of this method is that you obviously can't use it if the character already has a separate hcb,f move like Iori does. So in his case, if you want that cancel early or not have to manually delay, your best bet is properly inputting the dp as f, d, df then canceling normally into qcb+P.
I'm doing the motion but the move doesn't come out. Do I have to time it frame-perfect?
Although it's much less of a blind guessing game than in other titles, in KoF too, a knockdown into okizeme can be a loop leading right to death. In which case, mistiming a reversal on wake-up would surely be frustrating. Not only that, when dealing with some combos, KoF can ask of you to input a special as soon as your character recovers or is able to cancel from another move. If you had to time it all manually it'd certainly be tedious, but KoF makes it much easier for you with a simple trick.
In KoF, if you input a special/super and hold down the button(s) at the end, the game will repeat the motion for several frames. Which means for wake-up reversals, tight cancel windows, or specials as soon as you recover, you can simply do the motion a tad early and hold down the button, hence the name, button hold trick. The longer the motion, the longer the allowed buffer, going in 02um from about 10 to 30f. ( Note: The trick is common to every KoF but the length of the buffer varies )
Mastering this trick is all the more important when timing big motions isn't your forte. The game allows you to be as early as about half a second for a hcbx2 input then just hold the button and breeze through the extra challenge of timing it perfectly. Use of this trick for cancel purpose is actually very situational in 02um but knowing your options can't hurt.
An extension of this trick is that if you hold a button, no matter the situation, you won't be able to execute specials anymore. Uses of this are few and far between but one instance could be to perform Iori's cl.C, f+A, qcf,hcb+P combo. To normally do it, you have to input the full super motion during f+A's cancellable frames which can be tough for beginners. A way out of it is to do cl.C, hold C, qcf+A, let go C, hcb+P. Holding C will make qcf+A just be f+A instead of Iori's qcf+P projectile and then you simply input hcb+P to complete the DM's motion.
Note: This extension of the button hold trick is not in XIII and XIV.
Why are rolls so hard to punish in this game ? I swear I pressed cr.B in time.
First and foremost, rolls are fast. More so in older KoFs. They barely last over 30f with less than 10f of recovery. It takes time and practice to be able to react to and properly punish one that isn't just landing right at your feet. Now, that put in a game as fast paced as 02um where you're already on the lookout for the various tools and approaches the opponent may come at you with, it becomes even harder to properly react to a roll if you didn't keep it somewhere in your mind. Which is what I recommend.
Dealing with rolls
I'm personally not good enough to play a strong opponent against who I feel like I gotta watch my spacing, when I go in, make sure I don't miss any hitconfirm, all while just raw reacting to their unexpected roll for a big punish. So what I do is if it's a new opponent I just don't, I leave the roll aside at first, you don't need to overthink a roll your opponent isn't using, so first, figure out if that's actually an option they like going for.
When I make sure it is and it's not too obvious, I simply try to keep in mind around where they'd land if they were to roll right where I'm seeing them so that if it ends up happening, once I recognize the roll I don't think about where to go but rather directly move where I know they'll land so I can punish it. Fortunately, unlike in 02, rolls (duration, range, recovery) are normalized in 02um so it's really not that hard to get a feel for it.
That's for heavily punishing a roll. Down the line, you want to be able to consistently react to a cheeky close-up roll going through you and throw your opponent out of it.
If you're confident you have the skill and reaction to properly punish a roll and still feel like you're mistiming your cr.B every time, it might not be you the issue but actually the game itself for once.
There's a legacy bug that has been around from 98 to 02, 98um and of course 02um as well. Said bug makes it so roll's recovery is invincible to specifically some cr.B's. The characters that can punish a roll with their cr.B are these 29 :
- Legal: Benimaru, Vice, Andy, Nameless, Kensou -not Ex-, Vanessa, Seth, Ramon, Leona, Chris, O.Chris, K', Maxima, Kula, Kim, Chang, Choi, Blue Mary, Chin, Xiangfei, May Lee, Kusanagi
- Banned: Goenitz, Krizalid, C.Zero, Zero, Igniz, Geese, N.Geese
As far as I know it has no explanation nor reasoning and the list is also accurate for the other aforementioned games. If your character isn't on that list, remember to punish roll with literally anything else.
I saw really cool extension combos on youtube. How do I do that? Is it hard?
Here comes the flashy stuff most have their eyes out on 02um for, max mode. As the last stage at the time of what started in KoF 97 as Advanced mode, 02um's max mode offers everything that worked wonders with vanilla 02's while correcting every flaw the latter had.
- The player has access to free cancels, at the cost of a part of the mode's remaining time, the player can cancel every normal (even in recovery) and some specials into other specials. Possibilities depend on each move and character so experimenting is key. It's the main tool extending combos.
- Charge moves don't need to be charged when canceling or recovering from a move that connected (hit/block).
- Super Cancels are free.
- You can't build meter but you have an extra bar in storage so a level 1 super won't cost any meter but will end max mode, just like a level 2 will cost one. Using a super at the very end of the mode is the common thing to aim for.
- Although not progressive like XIII HD's, there is damage scaling to 02um's max mode as well. It affects normals and specials with a distinction for 3+ hits specials who have different scaling depending on the number of hits they do, the more hits the softer the scaling. Supers always do full damage.
Max mode is activated by pressing B+C (LK+HP) either during neutral stance or to cancel the active frames of a grounded normal on hit/block :
- Activation from neutral stance, raw activation, costs 1 stock and has a start-up with no invincibility, so it's punishable. It's usually unpractical because there's no guarantee you'll get anything worth it before max mode runs out but some characters like Daimon and Ralf can do some cool stuff with raw activation.
- Cancelling the active frames of a normal on hit/block, max cancel, costs 2 stocks and instantly puts you in max mode and back at neutral. This is where the money's at. Taking advantage of a move with good hitstun, usually a strong normal or a command normal:
- You can max run (or BC run) and manually combo the first canceled normal into another move to go on with a devastating combo. Max running is simply implementing the double forward f,f input you need to run while max canceling. Three ways to do it:
- normal, BC, f,f , the less likely to mess up but also the most likely to get a delayed run
- normal, f+BC, f , the one you should always use when running as you can just hold forward through running, hitting the normal and max canceling
- normal, f, BC, f , the one to use when trying to max cancel cl.C/D from neutral or while walking to avoid getting a throw
- You can max cancel the normal using a motion with B+C as buttons rather than just a press. Often referred to as BC bypass, if you do, the game will max cancel the normal into the motion using C as the button in priority, then B. One example is Kyo's cl.C, df+D, qcf+BC which max cancels df+D into his Dokugami (qcf+C)
Note: If you try max canceling a normal late on hit without using a motion, you'll get a "B" input upon activation. That is unless you do so while holding df with a character that has a df+C command normal, in which case you'll get that instead upon activation. You usually want to avoid both of these scenarios, so learning to cancel properly on hit is important. Just as much as it is to remember how to properly combo after a run.
If you max canceled and combo'd into a normal/special, every move starting that one and until the opponent recovers will deal about 1/2 its full damage. If not, about 2/3. This means that resetting right after a max activation often leads to more damage but is obviously a big risk as you have two stocks on the line. Again, supers aren't affected by scaling.
Max canceling with a motion even though not optimal most of the time is much easier than going for a max-run. So anyone that has a special with enough reach and juggle potential gets an easier max combo route. Then it really depends on what inputs does the combo needs you to do at what speed and how you feel about the given shortcuts and longcuts. If not that, having long normals to connect from and/or fast moves to connect into obviously makes going for max-run a tad easier as you usually want to avoid having to go for a really tight run to be able to connect.
As the main damage bringer of the game, max mode is where the game shows all it has to offer as a singular KoF and playing with it although tedious at first, can soon be very rewarding and become a trustworthy tool to turn around the tide of a match. Some max combos can go as far as killing a character in one touch. That being said, you still need that first hit in first and foremost, so in the end this is still KoF, learning neutral and fundamentals should always take priority. Beginners, being obstinate about max mode and only that will not make you better KoF players.
Where can I watch 02UM matches?
There are "tourneys" every week streamed on these channels :
qq/yz footage of pro players regularly uploaded on these ones :
Some arcade footage as well:
- KOF02UM video search at youku
- KOF02UM video search at niconico video
- Emillll's Youtube channel
- Ars Magna's Youtube channel
- 銀弧' Youtube Channel
- Gameacho's Youtube channel
What's the tier list?
Chibayuko, Japan Ratio/Point List
【5】 K', Nameless, Kasumi
【4】 King, Kula, Andy, EX Robert, Orochi Chris, Benimaru, Yuri, Hinako, Heidern
【3】 Bao, Jhun, Mature, Lin, Chris, Ryo, Kusanagi, Foxy, Daimon
【2】 Iori, Orochi Shermie, Choi, Yamazaki, EX Takuma, Mai, Seth, Leona, Clark, Kyo, Terry, B. Mary, Kyo-2, Kim, Xiangfei, Joe
【1】 Shingo, Kensou, EX Kensou, Takuma, Ralf, Robert, Billy, Yashiro, Orochi Yashiro, Chin, Angel, Shermie, Vice, Athena, Ramon, Whip
【0】 May Lee, Maxima, Chang, Kyo-1, Vanessa