Sorry Mai, I fully intended to do a feature on you, but then I realized you have way too much attention already, and frankly, although you are hot, you aren't that interesting.
Don't get me wrong, I still love Mai and hope she gets put back into King of Fighters in further installments as she is actually a good character to play as, but really when it comes to KOF women, I do have a preference to play as Leona Heidern.
Like most adolescent boys, who came across Fatal Fury at some arcade and became instantly entranced by Mai's cutting edge, "bouncies", I almost always picked her as my character and have become quite good at using her. However, after I moved on to King of Fighters, and hung on to my Fatal Fury roots, only sticking with Mai and Terry, I learned that King of Fighters wasn't really meant for them.
As anyone who has actively played any of the KOF games knows, the creators try to build a story in arcs, like a TV show or book series. Because of this, even if it is silly and cliche at times, KOF has one of the most coherent and interesting stories in fighting games. But because the series has such a large cast, mostly pulled from other games, the developers are constantly battling against themselves. Fans have certain characters they want to use in every game, but the developers don't want to use those characters any more because they have nothing to do with the story arc they are trying to convey. The Fatal Fury team has a great story going along in their own franchise, but they play second fiddle to the KOF main crew. So while most fans of Fatal Fury move onto King of Fighters, if they want to enjoy the story mode in any facet they must leave their Fatal Fury team behind, as I have done in saying farewell to Mai.
So what does this have to do with Leona Heidern? Once you discard Mai as the main female lead, you have to look hard to see who the real female lead is. Honestly, I don't have a good answer as to who that might be, as KOF tends to be a sausage factory when it comes to the main storyline. Leona has been in the series since 96, the third game in the series, and is one of the few females to make the cut into the bare bones that is King of Fighters XII. I think that is more then enough to qualify her as the main lady of King of Fighters.
While she doesn't have Mai's skimpy outfit, or overall sex appeal, she is quite alluring. Her trademark getup was a military shirt cut to show her midriff, and green shorts. However, I think partly due to the overall lack of sexiness in KOF XII, they traded her military shirt for a tight fitting back tank top.
Her backstory is pretty dark, for when she was a child, she was taken over by her cursed blood and slaughtered everyone in her village. Because of this it left her isolated and perhaps a touch emo. But over the course of the games she has been able to come out of her shell thanks to her squad mates. Sadly, that blood curse reappears later and she tries to kill her two best buds, Ralph and Clark. But other then that she is a pretty easy going gal. Also she wears little bombs for earrings. Yeah I take it back, she is pretty frightening.
But Leona needs love too, and there is a severe lack of merchandise regarding this deadly beauty.
However, probably my #1 reason for wanting to pay tribute to this sexy merc:
She cosplays as Asuka in her spare time. (From KOF Maximum Impact 2)
Bonus pic! Leona's alt costume in KOF Maximum Impact 2