What's the best KoF game to start off with!?!?

I’m limited on cash and i want the best possible experience to start on picking up the series. So please do recommend the best possible choice to begin with.

I have a PS3 and a PS2 for fighting games. Also I have a fair enough experience with other fighting games to point of at least being adequate in SF3, SF4, TTT2 [not so much on this] and UMVC3.

KOF 98 for over all bare bone fundamentals of the series and to introduce you to a great variety of past and current characters. I have the Orochi Saga collection for ps2 which will also allow you to play all of the first 5 games in the series. I dont know how the psn store ones have their training mode set up, but OS has a training mode, a very bare bones one, but a training mode none the less. Weird thing is my disk freezes after awhile, dont know what causes that, it only happens on training mode for this game.

bit of a bump, but this was still on the first page, so… yeah, kof forums!

either kof98 or kof98um. 98 has a better and older playerbase and is easier to access right now, simple as that. 98um has a lot of cool changes in theory (some big ones: they made extra good and made the usa team mid to top tier), though since not many play it (yet, if final edition on steam gets anywhere) it isn’t really clear if those changes don’t go too far.

the thing with xiii (and, almost sadly, xi) is they’re different kind of games; one that’s still very good (well, xi at least), but one that’s not really kof. the thing with kof2002 is that it’s just not as good of a game as 98 (…or most of the games in the series, really), though i don’t know much about 2002um. and i can’t just say “screw kof, get kofxi” because kof is a pretty good game too!

(obviously this is an answer to the question by itself and not necessarily an answer to the op)

Can the “not really KOF” thing die already? It’s asinine and wrong just like calling, say, Brawl “not Smash” or GGXrd “not GG”, or a shoto mirror in SF4 “not SF” because it’s not ST would be.

Is it 98? No, the feel is very different. Not being 98 doesn’t suddenly make the game not KOF.

yes it does, because every other main kof besides xi and xiii plays similarly. yes, even wacky 2000. i think xi is a fantastic game, but i know that it’s not really kof at all and that it would be insane to say otherwise.

you can’t really make that comparison to sf, because sf with its subseries is smart branding that sets it apart from so many other long-running fighting games. snk is actually one of the few other companies that bother: imagine if the last blades were treated as samsho games instead, or if garou was referred to as just another entry in fatal fury instead of the not-really-fatal-fury-at-all that it was marketed as. if kof was more clearly divided into the subseries it wants, we wouldn’t have this problem.

And Brawl is not Smash. The shoto match in SF4 clearly isn’t Street Fighter because it doesn’t play like ST. Starcraft 2 isn’t Starcraft. There’s probably some early KOF that doesn’t play like 98, so is 98 not “not KOF”, too?
That’s what that statement amounts to. A game can emphasize a completely different facet of the rules like Melee and Brawl do while sharing the same basic ruleset. They’re just different iterations of the same idea, the same ruleset. There’s no issue saying Brawl is Smash even though it’s a vastly inferior game IMO. You can just call it Smash say it’s bad all the same. 98 and 13 are way more similar than that in both mentality and quality.

Then again I guess I shouldn’t be surprised because some folk are saying Xrd is not Guilty Gear because it lacks a couple things added in Accent Core.

98, 02, 13, c’mon now.