The King of Fighters hoping to steal some Street Fighter thunder

We officially declare this the year of the fighter! To the delight of face-punching fans (ie: everybody), the long-standing rivalry between SNK and fellow fighting game giant Capcom will be reborn with the release of The King of Fighters XII for the PS3 and 360 this July.

This will be the first The King of Fighters released since 1996, which means the series is getting a complete makeover for the current generation hardware in the form of gorgeous hand-drawn animation. There’s zero cell shading to be found here. All the characters, all the backgrounds and even the title screen logo have been lovingly rendered and colored pixel-by-pixel by real human hands. It’s nothing short of moving artwork.

“I couldn’t think of a more appropriate way to commemorate The King of Fighter’s 15-Year Anniversary than with a gorgeously animated, high-definition installment that updates the KOF legacy for a new generation.” said Shane Bettenhausen of Ignition Entertainment. “While other fighting games have abandoned the time-consuming process of creating beautiful 2D art, KOFXII fully embraces the refined aesthetic beauty that only human hands can produce.”