SNK just announced a new King of Fighters game, but it’s not what you’d expect from the venerable 2D fighting series.

When franchises cross genres, it’s usually something silly but relatively fathomable, like Mario dipping into sports games or Guilty Gear turning into a real-time strategy game. Actually, scratch that last one. That’s pretty weird. Even weirder, though, is the new turn for another established 2D fighting game franchise. SNK Playmore’s King of Fighters series, after all these years, is going where no KOF has gone before: it’s becoming an overheard shoot-em-up game.

Yeah, it’s pretty ridiculous, but it doesn’t look all that bad. See, as far as the released screenshots tell, you play as either Kyo Kusanagi or Athena Asamiya, who can shoot fire or psychic energy out of their hands, respectively, and use the screen-filling super moves you’d expect. Aside from the flying part, this almost makes sense: Athena does indeed fire psychic-powered projectiles, and Kyo can light his hands on fire, though he’s never been known as a projectile-based character as far as I know.

Okay, fine. It doesn’t make any sense at all. It’s fighting game characters flying around the skies like superheroes dodging bullets and killing things.

Tentatively titled King of Fighters Skystage, the game is due in 2010 for Xbox Live Arcade, so far in Japan exclusively.

SNK also announced another KOF-related XBLA game at the recent Microsoft Japan event, one that certainly isn’t as ridiculous but might be more interesting to fighting game fans: an XBLA port of Arcade/Dreamcast/PS2 classic Garou: Mark of the Wolves.

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