The eleventh main installment of the King of Fighters series, King of Fighters XI builds upon the 3-on-3 tag-team style of The King of Fighters 2003 by adding a new Special Attack button and a new tactical meter (the Skill Gauge system, which is utilized for special techniques). It also shakes up some of the series's roster, marking the absence of some of the series's mainstays (such as Joe Higashi and Leona) while adding new hidden guest characters from SNK's earlier games (Buriki One and Kizuna Encounter).
Set during the second part of the Ash Saga story arc, the game's story takes place during another King of Fighters martial arts tournament (again hosted by Rose Bernstein). As with previous tournaments, it has a hidden agenda relating to the current antagonistic force (as the mysterious "Those from the Past" organization continues their plan to break the Orochi seal). The game's protagonist, Ash Crimson, also continues with his mysterious plan.
The console port of the game was released on the PlayStation 2 in Japan (on June 22, 2006), Europe (by Ignition on July 6, 2007), and North America (on November 13, 2007). Along with a new Challenge Mode (used for unlocking characters), this version includes five characters from their NeoGeo Battle Coliseum appearances. This version was later digitally re-released for later PlayStation consoles (via PlayStation Network) in Japan on December 17, 2014.
The game includes four basic attack buttons (Light Punch, Light Kick, Strong Punch, Strong Kick) and a special new attack button (the Special Attack, which was done in some of the previous games by pressing both Strong buttons).
Like previous games in the series, King of Fighters XI has some techniques that can be vital to each player's playstyle. This includes dashing (allowing players to make a short horizontal hop by pressing the joystick twice in a direction), grappling, and taunting.
- Shift - Allows the player to tag in another character to take their character's place. The fighter jumping in is based on the button combination (either both Punch buttons or both Kick buttons). Normal shifts can only be done when the character is not jumping, attacking, being hit, blocking, or knocked on the ground. Shifting is done automatically when the current character is KO'd.
- Emergency Evasion - Allows the player to roll forwards or backwards to dodge attacks by pressing both Light buttons and moving the joystick in a direction. Emergency evasions can only be done when the character is not jumping or being hit. It can be done while being knocked on the ground (for a recovery roll), can be cancelled from non-jumping connected normal attacks (at the cost of one full Power Stock), and can be cancelled from blocking (at the cost of one full Power Stock).
- Guard Cancel Attack - Allows the player to cancel their blocking into a knockback attack by pressing the Special Attack button, at the cost of one full Power Stock.
Skill Gauge Techniques
Along with the new Special Attack button, the game's primary new feature is the Skill Gauge system, which consists of a meter that builds up over time. A "stock" is automatically stored when the meter fills up (up to two stocks) and can be used to activate the following techniques:
- Quick Shift - Uses one Stock. Allows the player to cancel non-jumping connected normal attacks (and some special attacks) into a Shift, allowing them to continue the combo with another character. The fighter jumping in is based on the button combination (either both Punch buttons or both Kick buttons) and pressing another button determines if (and what type) of attack the fighter will jump in with.
- Saving Shift - Uses both Stocks. Allows the player to interrupt most enemy attacks (when they connect and the player is not in the air) with a Shift. The fighter jumping in is based on the button combination (either both Punch buttons or both Kick buttons) and automatically performs a jumping attack that deals no damage (but knocks the opponent down).
- Super Cancel - Uses one Stock. Allows players to cancel certain parts of the characters's Super Move into another Super Move. An enhanced version, called "Dream Cancels", can be done when the Leader character performs a Super Cancel into a Leader Super Move and requires both Stocks.
Sacred Treasures Team
Fatal Fury Team
Mark of the Wolves Team
Art of Fighting Team
Ikari Warriors Team
Psycho Soldier Team
- Adelheid Bernstein (mid-boss, unlockable)
- Gai Tendo (alternate mid-boss, new addition and guest from Buriki One, unlockable)
- Jyazu (alternate mid-boss, new addition and guest from Kizuna Encounter, unlockable)
- Sho Hayate (alternate mid-boss, new addition and guest from Savage Reign / Kizuna Encounter, unlockable)
- Silber (alternate mid-boss, new addition and guest from Buriki One, unlockable)
- Shion (sub-boss and new addition, unlockable in the PS2 version)
- Magaki (final boss and new addition, unlockable in the PS2 version)
- Robert Garcia (unlockable, exclusive to the PS2 version)
- Hotaru Futaba (new addition and originally from Garou: Mark of the Wolves, unlockable, exclusive to the PS2 version)
- Mai Shiranui (unlockable, exclusive to the PS2 version)
- Tung Fu Rue (new addition and originally from the Fatal Fury series, unlockable, exclusive to the PS2 version)
- Mr. Big (unlockable, exclusive to the PS2 version)
- Geese Howard (unlockable, exclusive to the PS2 version)