I was looking forward to this particular title for two reasons: it would be exciting to see my favorite SNK characters rendered with more powerful hardware and, seeing as SNK has filed for bankruptcy, Capcom Versus SNK could be the last game featuring SNK characters. As an SNK nut, I needed to get this game.
Initially, there were many things that I had found pleasing in Capcom Versus SNK. The production value was there: slick menus, crisp backgrounds, and artwork from both SNK and Capcom artists. The sprites were nice and the SNK characters made the transition quite well. I was also pleasantly surprised to find that a few of the Capcom characters had been redone for the game; Ken, Ryu, Bison and Dan no longer used the old Street Fighter Alpha sprites. As Mike mentioned before, the game is an old-school 2D fighter, and a refreshing change of pace for the Versus series in general. Capcom Versus SNK had everything it needed to get my attentionit could impress in the first viewing. Unfortunately, after I spent some time playing the game, I came away disappointed. While I admit that Capcom Versus SNK was playable, my experience wasnt as favorable as Mikes.
Ironically enough, many of the things Mike enjoyed about Capcom Versus SNK were things that I didnt like very much. The rating system was something I particularly disliked. While I can agree with Mike that the rating system adds a strategic element in character selection, it does so by limiting the possible character combinations available to the player. The selection process is also made more complicated than it needs to be. Its not a fair trade off in my opinion. Unfortunately, there is no alternative to the rating system. There is no option for three-on-three team fighting (a la King Of Fighters), and there is no option for tagging either. The lack of options is particularly frustrating when you consider that the Neo Geo Pocket version manages to have both tagging and team fighting.
Another point of difference between Mike and myself is the question of hidden bonuses. I dont mind the occasional surprise in a game, but the use of hidden bonuses in Capcom Versus SNK is quite obnoxious. A sizable portion of the game is locked away from the outset, and the amount of effort needed to unlock the bonuses is unreasonable. You can avoid most of the trouble of unlocking the bonuses by linking a Neo Geo Pocket (with a copy of SNK Versus Capcom: Match Of The Millennium) to the Dreamcast. The link option speeds up the process considerably. However, the motives behind the link feature do seem questionable. After all, the link option requires the purchase of a Neo Geo Pocket as well as a copy of SNK Versus Capcom: Match Of The Millennium; Capcom could have just eased up on the workload instead.
Gameplay-wise, I will agree with Mike to a point. Capcom Versus SNK is an old school fighter, and thats good. Its slower paced and more deliberate, requiring sound strategy instead of simply charging with an arsenal of long chain combos. Its also less frenetic and less outrageous than the previous Versus games, making a better marriage between the rosters of SNK and Capcom. Unfortunately, there are some minor problems that I thought needed mentioning.
Capcom Versus SNK uses the SNK four-button layout, and while that works quite well for the SNK characters, it causes some problems with the Capcom characters. Capcom uses a six-button layout and that meant some accommodations had to be made. Unfortunately, certain accommodations didnt work as well as others. The biggest problem was the leg sweep, which required the controller to be held down-forward while the heavy kick was pressed. Although that method allowed for two different kicks with one button, it proved to be disruptive during play as many of my combo attacks were cancelled with an inadvertent leg sweep.
The game itself also feels quite limited in its scope. While the groove systems try to incorporate elements from both SNK and Capcom games, it only does so on a limited basis. At its core, the game plays like a limited version of the King of Fighters series, and the groove systems only affect the manner in which super attacks are charged. With such a large number of games from which Capcom and SNK could have drawn inspiration, I was more than a little disappointed with what I got.
Capcom Versus SNK has some good production value and, with the bankruptcy of SNK, a nostalgia factor about it as well. Besides that, I really cant say much more. In all honesty, I wanted to like Capcom Versus SNK more than I actually did, but I didnt. The Dreamcast is home to many, much better fighting games from both Capcom and SNK, and Id sooner recommend Fatal Fury: Mark Of The Wolves or Street Fighter Alpha 3 than I would Capcom Versus SNK.