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Instead of the three character teams from previous KOF games, each team now has four members. Before a match, the player chooses three of the characters to use in the actual fights, while the fourth member becomes the designated "Striker", a character the player summons during battle to help their character out by performing one of their Special Moves against the opponent. A striker can only be summoned a limited number of times during a single match, which is determined by the number of "Strike Bombs" at the bottom of the screen. The selectable fighting styles, Advanced and Extra, from KOF '98 are gone. Instead, the game has a single playing style modeled after the Advanced mode from the previous game, where the player fills their power gauge by attacking the opponent or performing special moves. This time, there are two powered up states the player can choose during battle depending on the button combination used. Counter Mode increases the player's offensive strength and allows the player to use their character's Super Special Move infinitely, as well as combo that transitions from a Special Move into a Super Special Move by using a "Super Cancellation Attack" or a "Moving Attack". The other powered up mode is Armor Mode, which increases the character's defensive strength, allowing the character to take more damage from the opponent; however, the player cannot use Super Special Moves during Armor Mode.
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