I don’t know why but, for some strange reason, when SNK announced the next DLC package team for King of Fighters XV was going to be Team Awakened Orochi, I was super excited. It’s not like I have this deep connection with the characters; I’ve never even played the King of Fighters ’97, the game where they debuted in. Maybe they just looked cool or maybe the really emo guitar riff from their trailer got to me. Maybe it’s because they have cool robes? Whatever the reason, I really wanted to get my hands on the Orochi powered versions of Yashiro, Shermie and Chris.
Well, it’s been a good week now and I have tried out Team Awakened Orochi for a good while now and I will say, I think they’re good… but not great. In order to fully elaborate on why this is the case, I have to first talk about their general design and looks, what’s changed and what hasn’t changed between their “normal” and “Orochi” versions and where each character excels at.
In general, the Awaken Orochi team generally look like the base version of Team Orochi. There are some small differences, though. The most obvious would be their outfits. Instead of looking like some weird band, they’re now all dressed in ceremonial robes, which do look really good, in my opinion. Their normal stances have also changed, which does signify a noticeable change in each character’s personality. This version of Yashiro is constantly swirling his arms instead of bopping around like a boxer like he does in his “normal” form. Shermie now stands up tall instead of shaking her hips. Chris now has his hands opened up, revealing his flame powers. So they aren’t exactly your regular palette swaps, which I can appreciate.
However, despite the effort SNK made in changing their appearance slightly, all of their normal and command attacks are the same as their original versions. This is probably a nod to the original games but, to a newcomer like me, it’s rather disappointing there isn’t that much variety in their normal moves. They did add a couple of new normals, like Yashiro being able to link into his hard attack from command normals and getting a new target combo. Shermie also got a new command normal, which puts her in an airborne state. Chris, however, got the short end of the stick as he doesn’t get any improvements to his standard normals.
Now, let’s go to the specific characters, starting with Orochi Yashiro. This version of Yashiro is a grappler, which does seem to fit his look. He actually has 2 close command throws and each has their own uses. The one where you do a half-circle forward motion with punch is invulnerable to everything, even throws, and will send the opponent to the air, leaving them in a juggle state. His half-circle back to forward with punch command throw is his most damaging and, depending on the button used, can be used as a 1-frame throw, an anti-air or you can pick them off the ground with the EX version. These are really good moves but can be hard to execute the motion in the heat of battle.
As a grappler, Orochi Yashiro’s main goal is to get in close and he has a few ways to do it with his special moves. He has a running command grab with half-circle forward with kick, which can combo off his normals. The EX version also has the benefit of being projectile invulnerable, making fireball spammers pay for being too robotic. He also has a command jump with quarter-circle back with kicks and the EX version can actually grab the opponent. The grab does no damage but it does leave them open for hits. However, this move is just too slow to be useful.
For his supers, Orochi Yashiro of course has a command throw super, which is just a souped up version of his half-circle back to forward command throw. He also has a projectile invulnerable super which has him leap across the screen like his quarter-circle back with kicks move. The latter, like the move it’s based on, has limited use but the former just feels fantastic as the exclamation point on a long combo. I’m really disappointed, however, with Orochi Yashiro’s Climax as it’s normally a counter move. You can combo it from other supers like B. Jenet’s but it does make it feel limited in use. In general, Orochi Yashiro would be a fantastic first character in a lineup and, in the right hands, a decent anchor because of his potential to do a lot of damage without using a lot of meter.
As Orochi Yashiro is now the grappler of the group, Shermie’s role is now different but I can’t really put my finger on what she is now. She seems like a combination of a zoner and a rushdown character now. She has a couple of special moves which can control space really well. Her half-circle forward with any button will unleash a sphere of electricity to a designated point of the screen and the EX versions are really good as they’re full-fledged projectiles. Speaking of projectiles, her quarter-circle back with punch can work like one but, despite the first hit being able to destroy other projectiles, don’t expect Orochi Shermie to win any fireball wars. The main thing is she can control space with these two moves alone.
However, what makes Orochi Shermie deadly is actually her ability to rushdown with combos. Unfortunately, this is mostly dependent if you have meter. Most of her other special attacks don’t do fantastic damage but the EX versions will always cause a ground bounce. Her new basic bread and button combo with meter would be her standing heavy punch, link to her new forward and light punch command move, cancel that into her EX quarter-circle forward with kicks, combo that into the EX version of her quarter-circle back with kicks and finish with the heavy version of her quarter-circle back with punch special move. This does great damage but does cost one bar.
Her supers and Climax also feel rather average. She has a move where she flies across the screen with an electric dropkick that simply looks hilarious. Orochi Shermie also copied Benimaru’s Raikoken super which is fine but nothing special. Her Climax is gorgeous and dramatic, though. Orochi Shermie would make a good middle. I can’t really see her as an anchor as, despite being resource reliant, Orochi Shermie doesn’t do explosive damage, even with her fantastic EX comboability.
We finally get to Orochi Chris and he feels much more like an all rounder type of character now. He’s still a slippery little sucker thanks to his dash speed speed, but he can’t exactly mix up his opponent anymore because of his different specials in his Orochi form. He now has a unique fireball which has a slow startup but can destroy incoming projectiles and still keep on going. It also hits up to 3 times if spaced correctly. It’s usefullness is limited, however, as you cannot combo into it because of the slow startup. He has a lunging leap attack with quarter-circle back and any punch. It’s not an overhead despite looking like one but this is one of Orochi Chris’ best way to get in as it goes over lows. Orochi Chris also has a true anti-air uppercut. The heavy version is more useful in combos, though. Orochi Chris also has a pseudo command grab with half-circle forward and kicks. It doesn’t do a lot of damage but you can follow it up with the light anti-air uppercut as long as you do the input immediately.
Orochi Chris seems like the most versatile of the Team Awakened Orochi trio as he can be played different ways. He can pressure opponents with the heavy quarter-circle back and punch as it’s plus on block. If his opponent is super defensive, he can rush in and break it with his weird command grab. He can also zone with his unique fireball and play defensive and stop anti-airs with his new uppercut. The other nice thing is he can generally juggle his opponents in the air really well because his normals are really fast.
What makes Orochi Chris especially dangerous are his supers and his Climax as they come off as very useful. He has one where he throws a massive fireball on the ground and, if it connects, will launch the opponent into the air. If you’re close enough, you can dash in for a nice little juggle combo. He also has a version of Kyo’s Orochi Nagi and it’s just as useful and good. His Climax is super damaging as well. Orochi Chris doesn’t have to rely on his supers, however, as his EX moves are also really good at linking into one another, making him a decent candidate for either mid or anchor. I will say he seems more suited for the anchor position than Orochi Shermie as he does have more explosive damage and his moveset can allow him to play to different strategies.
Overall, I do think Team Awakened Orochi is decent additions to the King of Fighters XV roster. Each of them offers something different to the table but, at the same time, because of their similar normals to their “normal” iterations, they don’t feel unique enough as well. This can be a boon if a player loves their regular versions as they can run a team with something like “normal” Shermie and Orochi Shermie and they won’t have to re-learn their normal attacks. I do hope to see pro players really squeeze as much as they can from these characters as their combo routes, especially Orochi Shermie and Orochi Chris, look crazy.
What do you think of Team Awakened Orochi? Do you think they’re better than their “normal” versions? Let me know in the comments section below!