The game is set after the events from The King of Fighters XI and is also the conclusion of Ash Crimson's story arc, which started in The King of Fighters 2003. It follows another King of Fighters tournament secretly hosted by Those From the Distance Land, the organization behind the events from the two prior games that are trying to break the seal of the demon Orochi and take its power.
Released after The King of Fighters XII, the game was directed by Kei Yamamoto who wanted to bring elements from prior The King of Fighters titles and fix issues from the prior game. This title significantly modifies the gameplay from its predecessor, removing some modes, and adding ones formerly used in the series. It also expands the character roster, re-grouping the playable characters into three-member teams as in the prior installments. The ports are notable for including more content than the original version such as new characters, stages and game modes.