Savage Reign (1995), the first installment, was an hodgepodge of pretty much every popular fighting game series on the Neo Geo, featuring weapon-based combat (Samurai Shodown), large scaling sprites (Art of Fighting), the ability to switch between the background and foreground (Fatal Fury), gimmicky and booby-trapped arenas (World Heroes) along with a much bigger emphasis on ranged attacks. However, the game's stiff controls and dated graphics did not compare favourably to other fighters released around the same time, leading to it being ignored by many.
Kizuna Encounter: Super Tag Battle, the sequel, came out just a year later. It ditched the plane-switching and gimmicky stage design in favour of a Tag Team battle system (indeed, one of the very first fighters to feature one), and a much more combo-friendly system than its predecessor. It is by far the more popular of the two games.
Set in the futuristic Jipang City (which is rumored to be an upgraded version of Fatal Fury and Art of Fighting's South Town), the plot of the series has a mysterious legendary fighter known only as King Leo emerge from out of the shadows of secrecy. Seeking a potential challenge in his own given chance and opportunity, he organizes and sponsors the Battle of the Beast God fighting tournament, promising humongous wealth and legendary fame to the victor. Out of the nine contestants that enter the competition, Sho Hayate is the winner. The tournament is then renewed a year later with a new rule, in which two fighters must join forces and work together as a team in order to gain victory in the new tournament.
Character sheet available.
The series contain examples of the following tropes:
- 2½D: Savage Reign allows fighting in both the foreground and background like Fatal Fury, with the background always being on an higher elevation.
- Combo: Kizuna Encounter's bread and butter. Combos exceeding 50 hits are readily available.
- Compilation Re-release: Fu'un Super Combo on the PS2, which contains both games along with arranged soundtracks, color edit and online play. However, it was only released in Japan. Although, it has since been released digitally on PlayStation 4 overseas. (Both games also have the option to set the text language to English.)
- Continuity Nod: The wrestling company that Eagle works for (SWF: Southtown Wrestling Federation) is the same one used in the classic SNK wrestling arcade game 3 Count Bout. Also, Chung's backstory states that he had gotten his cap from a man known only as The Legendary Wolf when he was young.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Nicola is one of the two characters not to return in Kizuna Encounter, and unlike Carol, doesn't have any further cameos in the wider SNK-verse, save for a KOF artwork depicting him stuck in a tiny locker room full of other SNK nobodies. Aside from that, Nicola also makes a single cameo appearance in Hayate's special picture ending in The King of Fighters XI alongside with his older twin brother.
- Darker and Edgier: Kizuna Encounter, somewhat. The ridiculous character design hasn't been toned down but the silly pre-fight conversations have been removed, the backgrounds are grittier and less colourful and some of the endings are quite dark.
- Expy: Kim Sue Il has an uncanny resemblance to a certain Taekwondo master, though SNK claims the two Kims are not related.
- Chung is Master Roshi from Dragon Ball, no ifs, ands or buts.
- Fighting a Shadow: King Lion is merely a double sent out by King Leo. Once Lion goes down in the first game, Leo reveals himself. "Ha ha ha ha! Did you really see all of the King? He's just a shadow. You will know who's the strongest!"
- Guest Fighter: Hayate and Jyazu show up in The King of Fighters XI as mid-bosses/playable characters while King Leo (and King Lion) appear in NeoGeo Battle Coliseum.
- No New Fashions in the Future: Apparently, early 90's style fashion will be all the rage halfway through the 21st century.
- Shout-Out: So there's a crazy criminal clown called Joker and the local police officer is called "Gordon"... where the hell is Batman when you need him?
- Nicola's "Power Frisbee" looks exactly like a scaled-down version of Captain America's shield.
- The Smurfette Principle: Carol in Savage Reign and Rosa in Kizuna Encounter.
- SNK Boss: Well duh.
- Spell My Name with an "S": The uneven translation of Savage Reign switch between romanizing the ninja organization's name "Jaga" (邪呀, "evil fang") as "Jaguar" and "Jagger."
- Spiritual Antithesis: Of all things, it's one to The King of Fighters, since most of Savage Reign's features taken from older SNK fighting games (namely Fatal Fury, Art of Fighting and Samurai Shodown) are the ones that weren't used in KOF note — technically, World Heroes wasn't a SNK property until they bought ADK in the late 90s. The only things it shares with KOF are the Southtown setting and the Clothing Damage K.O..
- Kizuna Encounter's Tag Team mechanics can also be seen as a more dynamic alternative to the round-based team combat of KOF, which didn't have true real-time tagging until KOF 2003.
- Surprisingly Good English: King Leo speaks perfect English (well, as perfect as early SNK can be) courtesy of John Hulaton. King Lion on the other hand speaks Japanese.
- The End... Or Is It?: Reaching the Bonus Boss in Kizuna Encounter shows a cutscene where Jyazu impales King Leo with his own sword. After the credits, a stinger shows the still-alive King Leo pick up his sword and say "Heh, heh, heh... I'm not dead yet!"
- Three Round Deathmatch: Played straight in Savage Reign but averted in Kizuna Encounter, in which the defeat of one character would end the whole match no matter the state of his teammate.