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Capcom VS SNK 2

King of FightersStreet Fighter

It finally happened. Someone summoned their inner muse (probably in the form of a third cup of coffee) and came up with a good idea. No, not just good. More like mind-blowingly awesome, actually. That’s really the only way to describe Capcom VS SNK. I wonder how many late nights, focus groups, and caffeine binges it took to come up with one of the greatest crossover fighting games ever made. Who ever dreamed that Ryu would ever go mano-a-fiery mano with Kyo Kusanagi? Could Chun Li’s legendary legs withstand a blow from Terry Bogard’s Burning Knuckle? Who was the bigger karate bum, Ryo Sakazaki or Dan Hibiki? Important questions, indeed. But while the original game was groundbreaking, Capcom VS SNK 2 improved it even more.

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How, you ask? By the doing the obvious: adding even more characters into the mix. This game boasts close to fifty playable characters, making a roster nearly double the size of the first game. They all have the movesets from their original games; longtime fans won’t need to worry about relearning basic combat. Some players, however, may find the PS2’s Directional Pad a little stiff compared to an arcade stick. This isn’t just about the Street Fighter II crew versus the King of Fighters folks anymore, by the way. You’ll see heroes and villains from both Street Fighter III and Alpha, Fatal Fury, Art of Fighting, and even a few rarities from Samurai Showdown, Last Blade, Darkstalkers, and Rival Schools. This ensemble cast represents nearly ten years of 2D fighters from their respective parent companies. Just imagine pitting Joe Higashi against Sagat, a fellow Muay Thai fighter. Who would win in a brawl between M. Bison and Geese Howard? Are Yamazaki’s limbs even stretchier than Dhalsim’s? Such questions might be running through your mind as you gaze over the ridiculously large fighter selection screen.

But wait! Before you can start the ultimate crossover showdown of destiny, you’ll have to contend with the gaming modes presented to you. Street Fighter fans will likely prefer the one-on-one playthrough, which lets you lay waste to a series of combatants with a lone character. The three-on-three mode allows you to build your own teams (obviously with three participants each a la King of Fighters) and come up with as many heroic and villainous alliances as you can possible dream up. Veterans of the original Capcom VS SNK may been put off by the reappearance of the Ratio Mode, however. Before, the Ratio system was flawed; it gave each character a predetermined number (1-4) to represent his or her strength. Since a team could only have a maximum rating of 4, certain fighters could never team up, thus limiting a player’s selections when building teams. In Capcom VS SNK 2, however, the individual ratios no longer exist; you can choose whichever characters you want, and then designate their numbers afterward.

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You can further customize your character’s fighting style via the game’s Groove System. While each fighter has retained their usual movesets, there are also a wide variety of secondary skills that they can use depending on which Groove you choose. For example, the C-Groove lets you counterattack your opponent, block attacks in midair, perform defensive rolls, and use three-tiered super-powered combos. While that’s easily one of the most versatile options at your disposal, other Grooves have plenty of advantages. You’ll be able to Parry attacks a la Street Fighter III, sprint around the fighting arena, boost your attack power with each punch you take, and even charge up your energy like some kind of Dragon Ball Z wannabe. On the other hand, each Groove has its disadvantages; some only let you perform Super Moves until you’ve completely charged up the corresponding meter, while others focus more on defensive tactics. Since such things have a direct affect on your character’s capabilities, you’ll have to choose wisely and go with a Groove that best suits your playing style.

Of course, you could just take the easy approach and use the Groove Edit Mode. Instead of pondering over the strengths or weakness of a given Groove, you can simply make your own. You’ll be given the choice of every skill, each of which can be bought using the in-game point system. That ensures that you can mix and match different abilities without running the risk of creating an utterly broken fighter. Considering the game’s relatively low difficulty level (King of Fighters veterans in particular ought to find most of the Arcade Mode a breeze), you won’t need to make such a Groove anyway. In fact, nearly all of your opponents (except for a couple of extremely overpowered bosses) will require little more than a moderate amount of effort to defeat. You’ll likely use your skills in the Survival Mode, which pits you either against the entire roster or an infinite amount of matches. Or you could always spend time in the Training or Versus Modes to test out your skills and develop your tactics. But if you’re not into all that fine-tuning and technical stuff, you might have a bit of fun with the Color Edit Mode. While each character comes with several differently colored costumes, you can modify and unleash your newly animated fighter into the fray.

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Considering the varying degree of the graphical quality, you’ll probably want to use it. While Capcom VS SNK 2 features a decade’s worth of fighters, not all of them have been redesigned with the PS2’s capabilities in mind. Many of the King of Fighters crew look current (which isn’t surprising, since there’s a yearly addition to the series), but some of the Capcom characters haven’t been touched up since their Street Fighter Alpha days. Terry is still decked out in his classic Americana outfit, but his attack animations and sound effects are remarkably polished. Rugal looks even more badass than ever before, garbed in a blood-red business suit and sporting a ferocious grin. At the other end of the spectrum, Morrigan’s heavy outlining and washed-out coloring makes her look like she’s been stenciled into the game. Of course, you’ll probably be too distracted by flashy presentation to notice; every Hadoken, Burning Knuckle, Sonic Boom, and the rest of the special moves have been revamped with bursts of eye-straining neon colors and screechy sound effects. But if you haven’t played a 2D fighter since the SNES, the improvements are a welcome sight.

Retro fighting game fans, don’t pass this up. Yes, the Arcade Mode is ridiculously easy, and the insanely powerful bosses might make you weep. So some of the characters look like they’ve been ripped out of an earlier game. Big deal. Capcom VS SNK 2 is the most expansive fighting game crossover ever, a game that encompasses not only the most popular series of the two companies, but the obscure ones as well. This ensemble cast serves as a reminder of when brawlers were at the forefront of the gaming world. Seasoned veterans will appreciate the technical details and inherent strategies that come with the Groove System, while newcomers will face countless matches and challenges in the game’s various playing modes. The dazzling graphics (character sprites or otherwise) and sound effects make for an entertaining experience. With so many characters and options at your disposal, Capcom VS SNK 2 is a fighting game fan’s dream come true.

8 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is a Senior Staff Writer at Thunderbolt, having joined in February 2005.

Gentle persuasion

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