The rivalry between two gaming companies continues on, as SNK and Capcom do battle once again. This time it’s in a different format then the bloody fists and broken bones, it’s about mind over matter as you represent your companies’ favourites as collectible trading cards. The formula has been proven in the past, and the Japanese market is hooked, so let’s see how SNK Playmore's resurrected card Fighter does in North America on the Nintendo DS.
SNK vs. Capcom Card Fighters wants to see if America audiences can get drawn into card battle genre of gaming that is extremely successful overseas in Japan. Originally this franchise made an appearance on the obscure Neo Geo Pocket handheld which was released in 1999. Unless you're one of the few who had, or knew someone with a Neo Geo Pocket Colour, SNK vs. Capcom Card Fighters will be a new experience. Or there is the other scenario that your a dedicated import gamers who have braved overseas shipping, exaggerated prices to get an early advantage on your import-less friends.
The card system in SNK vs. Capcom Card Fighters is fairly easy to understand if you give it a little time and have the patience to read the dialog heavy tutorial. If you’re a gamer who doesn’t like to learn then steer away from this battler because it will likely lead to frustration. The main focus is obviously the cards, and battling it out against friends in the multiplayer offering, or in the straight ahead storyline. Like Pokemon games, the gameplay is a merge of a role-playing storylines with collecting, and battling overtop. For plot lines, SNK vs. Capcom Card Fighters sets up the player to fight up twenty one floors of a card tower to the card battling machine ambitious to take over the world. The basic plot line of a straight ahead tower crawl makes SNK vs. Capcom Card Fighters easy to navigate and overly simplified, besides the fun of having card battles the story element is a throwaway.
The cards in SNK vs. Capcom Card Fighters pull double duty, working as your defense and offense. Your HP is covered up by your cards in the front line and it’s your job to break through your opponents forces taking down their HP, as you guard your own. This is done with a semi-complex system of force gems, card placement and timing. The biggest aspect of SNK vs. Capcom Card Fighter strategy comes down to timing and using the best cards at the appropriate times. Although, the strategic moves can sometimes be ignored for a straight ahead attack, John Rambo style. Actually, this approach has worked for me and I’m half way up the tower and it eventually it becomes a downer when most of your opponents can be taken out without much thought. If you really want to get into a good battle you’ll need another human opponent for a real challenge.
While straight forward in victory strategies, the matches have a fair amount of chance involved as well. In the beginning of a round you roll a dice to see who strikes first, and then your deck is randomly shuffled out. It could be your lucky day with a handful of great first round cards, or you could have a few cards that you need to wait around until you can release them into the round. This basically means, chance could cause you a game, or it can also make a hard challenger easy. Of course there is no way around this and the random nature keeps the gameplay fresh, although a little less tactical then picking lines, or a more statistic based starting point.
For more details your deck of characters can consist of 50 card maximum per deck which can be set up in multiple settings. In an impressive list SNK vs. Capcom Card Fighters boasts over 400 cards that include new and old characters from both game franchises. Some new additions to the game are Dante from Devil May Cry and Phoenix Wright for the Capcom end, and on the SNK side we some new characters from their fighting franchise King of Fighters Maximum Impact 2, Nagase and Yuki from Neo Geo Battle Coliseum. New cards can be earned from winning battles, or purchased during the game. Just like addictive nature of the collectable cards you’d find in a store, you don’t know what you’ll end up with hopefully a rare card instead of repeat cards.
SNK vs. Capcom Card Fighters biggest flaw is a bug that shipped with some versions of the game that would kill your game. SNK Playmore has stated they will replace those copies with new ones, but if you happen to be one of those infected with the bug then you might have a sour taste in your mouth. Also, the lack of extra presentation doesn’t help SNK vs. Capcom Card fighters which even includes a few misplaced typos in the English translation. I feel the visual content has been overlooked when given the opportunities to use these classic characters against each other. I didn’t expect this game to be a visual heavy hitter, but it would have been nice to have a little extra love and care.
SNK vs. Capcom Card Fighters DS is a gamble. You can take the risk and hope not to get the bug that doesn’t let you fully finish the game, and you can hope that the card battling system will be satisfying enough to overlook any strategic shortcomings. The reward for taking the gamble is a huge list of Capcom and SNK characters that can provide some challenging moments with friends, or the senseless victory of marching over the CPU. SNK vs. Capcom Card Fighters will also keep compulsive collectors busy if they want to nab everything hidden behind the tear of a card packet.
SNK vs. Capcom Card Fighters DS is an average showing from SNK Playermore. Lazy in translation, it seems they have missed an opportunity to make something special for strategy fans, Capcom and SNK enthusiasts, and card battling fanatics. If a next time comes around, I hope they can up the visuals and make sure the cartridge is 100% before going to the final cut.
Gameplay: 6.5, Graphics/Sound: 4, Innovation: 6, Mojo: 6.5. Final: 6 / 10
Lots of cards to collect, All your Favourite Capcom and SNK characters, Multiplayer
Lacks Depth, Game Ending Bug, Low Presentation, Trashable Storyline
Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy | 05.29.07