is a character from the SNK Playmore's The King of Fighters video game series that first appeared in The King of Fighters '95 as the leader of the Rivals Team. He is an iconic character of the series, and regularly appears on publicity material and merchandise. Iori is a central character to the series' plot, and the initial enemy and eventual rival of Kyo Kusanagi. He was created specifically to become Kyo's rival as his name and abilities were designed to relate him with the Yamata no Orochi legend. The designers ended up liking him so much that they take care how his character is developed along the series.
Iori is the heir of the Yagami clan, who wield pyrokinetic powers and sealed the Orochi demon along with the Kusanagi and Yata clans. However, after betraying the Kusanagi clan, the Yagami are cursed by Orochi giving them powers that cause all members to die young. The character harbors hatred against the other clans, but later becomes obsessed to kill their heir Kyo. Due to that, Iori sometimes helps him in order to have the opportunity to have a final fight against him. Aside from the main series, Iori appears in several other media series such as spin-offs and crossover video games, and comic adaptations of the series.
A main objective planned for The King of Fighters '95 was to properly introduce Iori as Kyo's rival. Creators have stated Iori's personality and other aspects to his character "broke the mold for characters in fighting games at that time" After observing initial location testing for King of Fighters '95, several staff members predicted that Iori would be popular on his release. Iori is a berserker due to the Orochi demon blood within him. This version of him, officially named "Orochi Iori", is hinted to exist before its debut in The King of Fighters '97 as one of the game's mid bosses. This form of Iori was specifically designed to easily over power other characters. Series' flagship director, Toyohisa Tanabe, states that the staff was initially reluctant to add this version of Iori to the series' roster—worried about fans' reactions—but did so to add more impact to the Orochi saga's climax. He was particularly pleased to see surprised reactions from female fans to this form during KOF '97's location testing. Another minor development to his character was his change of "most valued possession/valued treasure" information. A girlfriend was also listed more than once, specifically in '95, '99, and 2000. However, starting in KOF 2001 and every entry onwards, the space is listed as "None". The SNK staff commented that it is curious how he does not have a girlfriend anymore.
During the early development stages of The King of Fighters '99, SNK planned to exclude Iori and Kyo to the game, as the story's focus was meant to center on the new protagonist, K'. However, they retracted this decision because of the popularity of the characters. Iori's repeated appearances in the series is due to the marketers and main planners' insistence to add him, Kyo, and other SNK regulars in every game—making it a challenge to decide the story for each title. Because of his popularity amongst fans, some of the main designers for the series have stated that he is "difficult to draw for". Illustrator Shinkiro thought Iori as one of the series' most wild characters because of his hairstyle with similar sentiments being made by Last Blade illustrator, Tonko.
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Official Site: SNK Playmore
Links: Wikipedia KoF 10th Anniversary Fighter's Generation