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In 2000, SNK went bankrupt. Eolith negotiated a license agreement in the same year to keep producing the KOF series because of the franchise's popularity in Korea and worldwide. BrezzaSoft assisted Eolith with the game's production. Fearing disappointing returning fans, Eolith decided to maintain most of the common parts from The King of Fighters while adding new elements to it. One of the biggest changes is the optional use of Strikers where players can use between one and three characters to assist the playable one. The team aimed to refine the original gameplay system of earlier KOF games. While conducting a popularity poll of the characters, Eolith still aimed to include the least popular teams in the game. The great popularity of Kyo Kusanagi and Iori Yagami led to their immediate inclusion in the game. References to works from Evoga can be seen in the game's scenarios. While working on it, the team played The King of Fighters '98 for the developers to see if they could include a character within the game. A member from Evoga won, resulting in the team asking to add Angel to the game. Starting in 2003, the games were again developed by SNK, now called SNK Playmore. SNK Playmore discontinued the AES system in 2003, preferring to publish video games in cooperation with Sammy, using its Atomiswave arcade board, which provided a more secure, modern platform for new arcade releases. This allowed the new KOF games to feature better audio and graphics than earlier games. 153554b96e