I'm typically not one for fighting games. I am, however, very much one for anything Neo Geo, and since SNK is the king of fighting game makers, there are a lot of fighting games there. I'm typically very picky about my fighting games simply because I'm not a big fan of the genre. To some, that may seem a bit counter-intuitive; it's typically those who ARE huge fans of a genre that get particular about titles and features. For me, however, because I don't have any special affinity for fighting games, I tend to get bored with them very fast. SNK vs Capcom, however, manages to keep me interested, and that's due in part to its well executed simplicity.
The game features 18 playable characters - nine SNK characters and nine Capcom characters. Truthfully, I haven't messed around much with most of these characters; once I saw that Morrigan from Darkstalkers was a playable character, I was pretty much set. She's basically my Capcom waifu, so I never really bothered playing with anyone else. The game features three primary game modes - 2v2 tag team fights, 3v3 queue fights, and the classic 1v1 fights - as well as an "Olympic mode" that essentially serves as a collection of themed minigames. In addition to the 18 playable characters, there are an additional 18 non-playable characters that appear as bosses, rivals, etc. Between the playable characters, the non-playable characters, and the minigames, the game makes excellent use of source material from both companies' treasure trove of IPs.
Being a handheld game from the late 1990s, SNK vs. Capcom obviously has its limitations, but it's a surprisingly competent fighter despite that. The controls are extremely responsive, and the Neo Geo Pocket's arcade style 8 way control stick makes combos and maneuvers a breeze to pull off. The characters have been beautifully recreated in a chibi style that really works for the system and screen size, and if I'm not mistaken, this was the first time you ever saw a crossover between SNK and Capcom fighters. While the mechanics of the game do a great job of blending SNK's style with Capcom's style, the game definitely feels like a Capcom fighter. What I mean by that is that if you were to try to make an analogy of what the game feels like to play, it definitely feels more like Marvel vs. Capcom than Samurai Shodown. While SNK makes some of the best arcade fighters of all time, that's not necessarily a bad thing; Capcom has made some EXCELLENT fighters, so taking a page or two from their book on controls is a good choice.
Typically for fighting games, you want four or six buttons. The Neo Geo Pocket only has two buttons, however. How did SNK get around this issue? Well, it's imperfect solution, but given what they had to work with in terms of inputs, it's a pretty functional one. How long you depress a button will affect the action the character performs. The longer you hold a button down, the stronger the attack is. Quick taps? Light attack. Hold it down for a good while? Strong attack. In this way, they used the pressure applied to the buttons to mimic the three punch/three kick control style that Capcom tended to implement. Sure, it would have been better to have four or six buttons, but it's a clever and well designed way to get around that input deficit.
Taking this game in the context of when it was released and considering the hardware it ran on, Match of the Millennium: SNK vs. Capcom is an almost pefect handheld fighter. Playing this on the Neo Geo Pocket Color makes me feel the same kind of way that playing Soul Calibur on the Dreamcast makes me feel; in pure awe that a fighting game works, looks, and feels this damn good on at platform that (by today's standards) limited, and like the Dreamcast's Soul Calibur, SNK vs. Capcom has stood the test of time to remain one of the greatest handheld fighters of all time. Truthfully, I'd rather play this on my Neo Geo Pocket Color than Street Fighter IV on my 3DS.
My Rating - 5 Neps
I'm a teacher.
And I like to play video games. I like to collect video games. I like to talk about video games, and I like to write about video games. During the day, I teach high school history; during the night, I spend my spare time gaming. Then I write about it.