The King of Fighters XII (KOF XII) is to be the next installment of The King of Fighters series. SNK Playmore has announced that it is abandoning the Atomiswave system and is moving its most popular game franchises to the Taito Type X2 arcade system. KOF XII will use newly-drawn 2D sprites on detailed 2D backgrounds. Due to the time the developers took to make the sprites, there will be only 20 playable characters (the lowest number of characters ever had in a game from the series). The game is currently due to be released in Japan in April of 2009 for arcades, while home versions will be released worldwidely in July of the same year. Like The King of Fighters '98, this game will not have a storyline; the saga from Ash Crimson that started in King of Fighters 2003 will finish in a sequel.
KOF XII uses the usual 3-on-3 team system with each fight consisting on 5 rounds. However, the Tactical Shift System from King of Fighters 2003 has been removed. KOF XII also introduces the "critical counter" system. When a player lands a close strong punch as a counter, the character enters into a critical counter mode where the player has a short amount of time wherein their character can link multiple attacks together. Once the critical counter's time period has expired (signified by a green hit) the player can finish with a special move. Finally, there is also a "clash" system in place wherein characters who land blows on one another with matched timing, the engine will generate a 'break' effect and push the characters away from one another into a neutral standing. As there is not storyline, there are no default teams or team endings in the roster. Players are free to make whatever teams they desire.
The game returns to its standard four button layout. Players can still dash, backstep, and perform rolls as their evade. The Guard Breaks from previous games can now be done at any time. Super special moves will now be executed in real-time and in a similar manner as KOF '94, meaning that it's a one level superbar that gradually drains once it is MAX. Some moves will take some time to charge, others can be pulled off instantly.The game will feature roster of 20 characters, which is half the amount of characters featured in King of Fighters XI. With the exception of the Hero Team from The King of Fighters 2003 and the debut of Raiden from Fatal Fury in the series, the character roster is comprised primarily of characters from early KOF games prior to the NESTS storyline, with the majority of them reverting to their classic KOF and pre-KOF designs and move set. KOF XII does not feature any of the pre-defined teams traditionally featured in the series, despite presence of members from recurring teams such as the original Japan Team and the Fatal Fury Team.
In August 1, 2008, SNK Playmore announced KOFXII Tokusetsu Corner, a cellphone series for Yahoo and imode Japanese networks. Each of them features a story based on four playable characters from KOF XII: Kyo Kusanagi, Benimaru Nikaido, Terry Bogard and Ash Crimson. SNK eventually released these novelizations in the official website from the game along with the ones from Athena Asamiya, Shen Woo and Kim Kaphwan.