According to level designer Mitsuo Kodama, the design of the Italy stage is inspired by the portrayal of Italy in the 1992 Hayao Miyazaki movie Porco Rosso.
Contributed by DrakeVagabond
The design of the Japan stage is heavily inspired by the look of Neo Tokyo from the 1988 film Akira.
Contributed by DrakeVagabond
During the planning phase of development, the development team originally wanted to include a bonus stage in the game:

"We asked the planner to come up with 100 different kinds, and he actually did it. But a lot of them were very out-there, like having Bonus Items fly in from the sky that you would have your character destroy. At that time, the general thought was that Bonus Games were essential for fighting games, but our conclusion from having thought of 100 different kinds was that we didn’t need one after all (laughs). So we quickly decided to cut the Bonus Stage from KOF’94."
Contributed by DrakeVagabond
At one point in development, the Ikari Team would throw hand grenades as their projectile attack, but in the end the developers thought "having grenades blowing up in a fighting game was a bit distasteful", so the idea was scrapped.
Contributed by DrakeVagabond
Attachment
Kyo's girlfriend, Yuki, appears in the background of the Japan stage along with his motorcycle. The game was initially going to feature an intro sequence of Kyo where he would drive through the streets on his bike and an animation sequence where Yuki would appear when Kyo is defeated. These ideas were not featured in the final game.
Contributed by DrakeVagabond
The game was initially going to re-use sprites from Fatal Fury Special and Art of Fighting 2 during early development. However, they ultimately decided to create original assets for the game.
Contributed by DrakeVagabond
Attachment
The U.S.A. stage contains a reference to The Blues Brothers and Pedro De Pacas from the Cheech & Chong film Up in Smoke, as well as references to the American hip-hop groups Kriss Kross and N.W.A.
Contributed by DrakeVagabond
Attachment
The writing on the crashed helicopter in the Brazil stage reads "Death From Above," which is a reference to a helicopter decal featured in the 1979 war film Apocalypse Now.
Contributed by DrakeVagabond
Attachment
Temjin, Mickey Rogers, Lee Pai Long, Eiji Kisaragi, Ryuhaku Todoh, and Young Geese Howard from Art of Fighting appear in the background of the Mexico stage.

Billy Kane and Richard Meyer from Fatal Fury, Roddy and Cathy from Top Hunter: Roddy & Cathy, and Lily McGuire from the first Fatal Fury animated movie are also featured in the background.
Contributed by DrakeVagabond
Attachment
Cheng Sinzan, Big Bear, Tung Fu Rue, Duck King, and Jubei Yamada from Fatal Fury cameo in the background of the Italy stage.
Contributed by DrakeVagabond
During the early stages of development, there was going to be a Fugitive Team with Chang, Choi, and a third "vicious criminal" character. This third character would later be replaced with Kim for unspecified reasons.
Contributed by DrakeVagabond
Chin's character is heavily inspired by Yuen Siu-tien's portrayal of the Qing Dynasty drunken boxer Beggar So (Sam Seed) from the Drunken Master film series.

There are many similarities between Psycho Soldier Team's design and characters from the Drunken Master film series. Kensou's character is possibly influenced by Jackie Chan's portrayal of Wong Fei-hung from the first Drunken Master film. Kensou's love of Steamed Buns is may also be a reference to a scene from the film where Chan's character attempts to steal food from a restaurant. Likewise, Athena's final design in the game is likely inspired by the lead female character from Story of the Drunken Master. Both characters were students of the Begger So in the films.
Contributed by DrakeVagabond
Many of the statues in Rugal's collection heavily resemble Ryu, Zangief, Guile, Akuma, Vega, and Fei-Long from the Street Fighter series, as well as Reiji from the Power Instinct series.
Contributed by DrakeVagabond
Early designs for Chang had him wearing a traditional striped prison jumpsuit. This, however, proved difficult to animate, so his outfit was changed to plain white cloth with a skull and crossbones mark. This also turned out to be too difficult, so he was given an even simpler "tunic and chains" design.
Contributed by DrakeVagabond
Lucky's design is based directly on the villain character Hakim from Bruce Lee film Game of Death. He was originally planned to be "a black man obsessed with Japanese culture, but as his design got updated and [they] added his American clothes and appearance, it no longer made sense for him to be a Japanophile", and the idea was dropped.
Contributed by DrakeVagabond
The native children in the background of the Brazil stage were originally going to flash their buttocks. This idea was dropped after being deemed too distracting and distasteful.
Contributed by DrakeVagabond
In the original overseas arcade version of the game, Mai's "swaying bosom" animation was disabled to appear stilted. However, in a 1994 developer interview, SNK revealed the animation could be unlocked via a secret code which they themselves did not reveal, but instead directed curious players to ask SNK's American division for it.
Contributed by DrakeVagabond
Attachment
Athena was originally planned to wear her schoolgirl uniform from her original appearance in Psycho Soldier. However, out of concern that overseas audiences wouldn't understand the reference, Athena received a redesign, prominently displayed in her entrance animation which starts her in the original schoolgirl outfit before throwing it off to reveal the new outfit. Athena's entrance animation is also the only one in the game to use 16 sprites, and her Shining Crystal Super Move was programmed in by the developers before proper work on the character had actually begun with the game's planners.
Contributed by DrakeVagabond
The prototype version of the game was a side-scrolling beat 'em up titled Survivor. It would have only used core characters from the Art of Fighting and Fatal Fury series. The original idea was eventually abandoned and changed into a fighting game since they liked the concept of the two-series crossover. Characters from Ikari Warriors and Psycho Soldier were also added to the roster. The concept of a three-man team was one of the ideas kept from the side-scrolling version.

The title “The King of Fighters” was originally the subtitle used for the first Fatal Fury game, Fatal Fury: King of Fighters; according to GameSpot, the developers picked the name to become its own game because they liked it.
Contributed by DrakeVagabond
Rugal was originally going have the ability to copy any move that he saw. However, the game didn’t have enough memory to execute the idea well enough, so the team settled on giving him Geese Howard's Reppuken and Wolfgang Krauser's Kaiser Wave attacks.
Contributed by DrakeVagabond
The original members of the England Team were King (Art of Fighting), Billy Kane (Fatal Fury Special), and Big Bear (Fatal Fury 2), since all three were English. However, after the release of Art of Fighting 2, the development team decided to make an all-female team, replacing Billy and Bear with Yuri Sakazaki from Art of Fighting 2 and Mai Shiranui from Fatal Fury 2.

Billy would later become playable in the sequel, while Big Bear would appear much later in The King of Fighters XII as his alter-ego Raiden.
Contributed by DrakeVagabond
Brian Battler is inspired by the SNK football game Football Frenzy. Early designs of Brian depicted him in more traditional football player fashion, but his final design left him without a helmet and a more "casual" uniform. This was done to make him not look exactly like the character Johnny Maximum in the World Heroes 2.
Contributed by DrakeVagabond
During the early stages of the game's development, Goro Daimon's design was criticized by designers who were of the opinion that it was just plain loopy for Daimon to fight wearing Japanese geta (wooden clogs). But Goro's creators were adamant and he kept his footwear.
Contributed by DrakeVagabond
Attachment
Before the final version of the game, Kyo Kusanagi was originally named Syo Kirishima and had a similar design to Shotaro Kaneda from the Akira manga.
Contributed by DrakeVagabond
According to Kyo’s designer, his final design was inspired by Jo Yabuki from Ashita no Joe, and Akira Fudo from Devilman.
Contributed by DrakeVagabond
Heavy D! is inspired by the SNK boxing game Main Event. He was named after the American rap artist of the same name from the rap group Heavy D & The Boyz. However, to avoid any possible copyright issues, they added an exclamation point at the end.

His pet cat, Puu, was also named after one of the developer's cats.
Contributed by DrakeVagabond
Choi Bounge's original design was changed at the last minute to avoid distinct similarities with horror film character Freddy Krueger from the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise.
Contributed by DrakeVagabond
The development team intended for Ralf and Clark to be shirtless, keeping them in line with their appearance in Ikari Warriors. However, the higher-ups ordered them to update their designs to look more modern.
Contributed by DrakeVagabond
Attachment
In the original Japanese release, opponents expel blood when hit. This was changed to show small hit markers instead when released overseas.
Contributed by ProtoSnake