The King of Fighters 2002 UM/Gauges

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Health Bar

The health bar is broken into 10 increments of 10% = 100 with 100% = 1000 = full health. When the health bar drops to 3 increments (30%) or lower the bar will turn orange then the character will be able to perform an HSDM.

Super Meter

On the bottom of the screen, there is the super meter/gauge. When charged and built, used for Desperation moves, along with various different offensive and defensive options and possibilities.

  • 1 level: desperation move/super, Guard Cancel CD, Guard Cancel AB, cancel Roll, max mode
  • 2 levels: Super cancel, max mode cancel
  • 3 levels: Super Desperation move, Hidden Super Desperation Move (Super MAX, Super MAX2)
  • 4 levels: Super Cancel to a Super Desperation Move (Super Max)

The number of supers/DMs in stock is indicated by the number appearing next to the gauge, and by the color of the gauge fills. Once loaded up, the word "maximum" appears on the gauge.

The gauge is charged with moves of the following actions:

  • A special or normal move on hit or block
  • A whiffed special move
  • Some attacks with special property

During max mode, the super meter cannot be charged or built.

The maximum number of stocked super levels varies depending on the position of character in the order of the team as follows:

  • first character: Stock max 3
  • Second character: Stock max 4
  • Third character: stock max 5

The super meter/gauge stocks will carry over into the next round.

Super Move/Desperation Move (DM)

A super move/DM is a kind of super special move that will require the use of a single level gauge of super meter. Activation of the move is usually accompanied by a "blue flash activation". Some normal moves and command attacks can be canceled into a DM.

Super MAX/Super Desperation Move (SDM)

All the characters of the game have one or more Super MAX/SDMs. The activation requires the cost of 3 super meter levels. They are also generally accompanied by a "reddish orange flash activation". In the max mode, the Super MAX/SDM costs one super meter level.

Super MAX2/Hidden Super Desperation Move (HSDM)

Once your life reaches the last 30% and turns orange, your character will gain a new move, the MAX2/HSDM. Like the Super MAX/SDM, it costs 3 super meter levels. The flash activation MAX2 is different from that of a Super MAX and it will show the artwork of your character, and a change in the background.

Special Cancel

It's the common type of cancel, the one referred to when a normal or command normal is said to be cancelable. A cancelable command normal can cancel into specials and supers whereas a cancelable normal can cancel into command normals, specials, and supers. Usually, the moves you can cancel into are only limited by the state of the character, K's f+B being airborne can only cancel into his air qcb+K, only special he can do in the air.
There are a few odd cases, however. Some command normals that only cancel into supers and not specials like Iori's f+A and Daimon's df+C or others like Seth and Nameless's f+Bs that can cancel into their other command normals. The most extreme case could be Joe's df+B that for some reason cancels into one and only one move, his mash punch [P].

Bare a few singularities like those, the logic is the same for every move. It's simply important not to confuse this regular cancel with either the Super Cancel, which costs 1 bar and is only open to specials outside of max mode, and the Free Cancel, specific to max mode. Both covered below.

Super Cancel (SC)

It is possible to cancel some special moves into DMs or SDMs. You cannot cancel specials into HSDMs. Super Cancelable specials are identified by the notation (SC) in the in-game command list or the Super-Cancelable mention in the details of the move on the wiki. As with a special cancel you can super cancel into any (S)DMs as long as it can come out in your current airborne/grounded state. It is not possible to cancel a special move that didn't connect.
Outside of max mode, a Super Cancel costs 1 bar on top of the cost of the super so it costs 2 bars to cancel into a DM, and 4 to cancel into an SDM.

The sole exception to these rules are Angel's Unchain Circle Links specials that can only cancel into her b,dp+P/AC but do not require an extra bar and can even super cancel on whiff.

Max Mode

Max mode is a mode in KOF2002UM that provides access to a number of possibilities and functions. You can raw activate by standing still and pressing B + C for 1 bar. Different from activating off a normal, see Max Mode Cancel below. The duration of this mode is represented by a small gauge "time" over the super meter. During this time, the player will have access to:

Free Cancel (C)

A cancel type only available in max mode that allows canceling certain moves into certain specials or supers, they are noted as (C) and are great for allowing a lot of cancels that'd be impossible otherwise. Among those would be non cancelable normals now able to cancel on hit or whiff. Free cancels use up about 20% of the "time" from the max mode gauge, which means the more amount of free cancels you will use in a combo, the sooner you will deplete the gauge and end max mode but potentially land more damage.
A good max mode combo is all about properly managing your free cancels, you would need to know which moves can be canceled into, and which moves can be canceled out of to make the best chains of free cancels. There isn't really a listing of moves that are able to be free canceled or logic to it as it entirely depends on the move and the character, the best way would be to simply test and experiment over and over.

Fortunately, that's something no one needs to do today as the 10+ years of the game were more than enough for players to discover the best and optimal routes for every character so make sure to visit the starter reference or combo sections of characters you're interested in to know right away what you should be labbing.


During max mode if you have your super meter stocked, you can do DMs, SDMs & the HSDM if you have enough levels. Doing DM's will terminate max mode.

  • 1 level = DMs
  • 2 levels = SDM, and HSDM (must be at 30% life)

Super Special Cancels

While Super Cancels (SC) costs a level of super meter, it doesn't cost a level while in Max Mode. But, you also have access to Special Super Cancel, where you can cancel some normals and special moves into Super (DM) or SuperMAX (SDM), which you couldn't normally perform outside of max mode.

Max Mode Cancel

In KOF2002UM you can cancel any ground based move (CD and CD break included) on block or on hit into a max mode activation. This will cost 2 bars instead of 1 like the raw activation.

There are two types of max mode cancel:

  • Max Cancel: It's sort of like a False Roman Cancel in Guilty Gear. You can cancel into maxmode (hitting B+C) after connecting a normal move then go back into a standing neutral position. It must be canceled very soon after the first active frame of whatever normal move that hits your opponent.
  • Delayed Max Cancel: Similar to Normal Move Max Mode, but you activating the max mode while performing a standing B at the same time. It happens when you delay the BC press during a normal, it will give you a stand B into activation of max mode. There are very few helpful instance of this as the subsequent B input will ruin whatever combo you intended to go for. As such you should always default to max activating early rather than late.
  • Max bypass: It's max canceling but with a motion + BC rather than it alone. It results in activation right into the corresponding special/super move triggered. A lotf of characters benefit from this. For exemple, Kyo can do a stand C, df + D, into a qcf + B + C which activate max mode and perform his qcf+C special move at the same time. Another example is Kim's f + B overhead kick into qcb + B + C which will combo to his qcb + C special move while activating immediately into max mode.

Refer to this FAQ segment for more information on max-mode.


The King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match

FAQControlsMovementOffenseDefenseGaugesAdvanced StrategyMiscellaneous