GAME REVIEW | "SNK Vs. Capcom" Fight is in the Cards
For decades, the battle between SNK and Capcom over who makes the best fighting games has been argued by many in the fandom. And that argument has even gotten the two companies together for some fighting collaborations, be it in the traditional sense or something unexpected. Perhaps the most interesting team-up came in the form of Neo-Geo Pocket Color’s SNK Vs. Capcom: Card Fighters’ Clash. While the big stars from Street Fighter and Fatal Fury don’t duke it out in-person here, the battles that wage aren’t without some excitement.
Players start out with choosing on which pack they’d like to begin with: SNK or Capcom. From there, the object of the game is to go one-on-one with various card players in the region, until you reach the tournament and become the champion. As you play, you can add more cards to your deck by winning pre-tournament bouts, taking a chance at the trade machines, or buying them from card dealerships. But be careful, for some trades will wind up biting up in the behind if luck isn’t on your side.
It’s interesting to see how much of a Pokémon feel SNK Vs. Capcom: Card Fighters’ Clash has. Although it doesn’t have anything like getting cards in the wild, the overall setup of collecting cards and battling opponents has the same tone as one of Game Freak’s earlier incarnations. Not only is it charming to watch, but it has a cuteness to the visuals that makes even the toughest card fights smack you more like a pillow fight than a Hadouken. Yes, “cute” shouldn’t mix with some of the most hardcore fighting characters around, but its aesthetic is very welcoming.
This leads me to the card game aspect of this chapter of the SNK Vs. Capcom lore. Even if you’ve never played something like Magic the Gathering or Yu-Gi-Oh!, learning the basics on how to lay out your cards is very simple. Its rules take only a moment to figure out, especially when it comes to face-offs with one’s cards against the opponent’s. Once a proper strategy is figured out (with maybe a little help with the game’s rewind function), gaining a win under your belt can be achieved with not too much stress or grinding.
Despite it being two of the biggest fighting developers out there, SNK Vs. Capcom: Card Fighters’ Clash doesn’t show badass matches as one lays their cards down. Instead, its presentation is rather simple, as you see cards and power-ups laid out more in a semi-realistic manner than something anime-esque. While that’ll be a letdown for some people, it makes up for it with the strength of the strategy that’s required to gain a victory. (Yes, we all wish we can watch Chun-Li or Terry pop out of the cards and duke it out, but this was a handheld game from 1999 we’re talking about!)
However, even with its simple gameplay, this card game doesn’t hold your hand for long. After maybe 3-4 matches, you’ll start to notice that the difficulty increases quickly. Matches that would’ve ended in minutes might take almost a half an hour to win. Other times, you’ll find that your “unbeatable” deck will get annihilated right in front of your eyes, as your own HP drops to zero faster than it takes to blink. It’s a frustrating aspect that not even the Rewind option can fix, as the advantage of the AI can be predetermined if it thinks you’re actually not ready to face a certain player.
Thankfully, there are elements to SNK Vs. Capcom: Card Fighters’ Clash that help to keep that rage-quit feeling down. Perhaps the most charming part of the game is the Easter Eggs you’ll come across. From zombies in the Resident Evil manor to the Forgotten Worlds’ Dust Dragon in the Lost Worlds location, these little nods to both SNK and Capcom’s massive library are endearing and smile-inducing. Even some of the game’s dialogue will get a chuckle out of you, although some characters’ means of speaking haven’t aged as gracefully as the rest. (Looking at you, Fo Gott En!)
- Great deck assortments
- Challenging gameplay
- Funny Easter Eggs
- AI can cheat at times
- Difficulty spikes early
- Shows age in docked mode
SNK Vs. Capcom: Card Fighters’ Clash may not be as action-packed as a traditional action game, but it makes up for it with strong strategic elements. While the AI can be a little too smart for its own good, it nevertheless delivers a fun and often humorous experience. It may not make you an expert card player, but Card Fighters’ Clash will make you feel like a champ when a victory rolls around.
Promotional consideration provided by David Lozada of Homerun PR