SNK vs. Capcom Card Fighters DS
SNK vs. Capcom. That phrase conjures up images of dozens of martial artists slaughtering each other with a slew of fireballs and flurries of kicks and punches. Those epic clashes were a fighting game fan’s dream come true; who could imagine that Street Fighter’s Ryu would ever trade blows with Fatal Fury’s Terry Bogard? Accordingly, the crossover games were a huge success; they were so popular that they even got their own spin-off titles. Thus SNK vs. Capcom Card Fighter’s Clash showed up on the Neo Geo Pocket Color, giving gamers a chance for some handheld card-based competition between the famous franchises. Skip forward eight years, and the classic title has been reincarnated on the DS.
But if you think that SNK vs. Capcom Card Fighters DS is some kind of watered-down handheld version of Capcom vs. SNK, don’t get your hopes up. This game doesn’t have any 2D fighting whatsoever; it’s a competitive card title akin to Yu-Gi-Oh or the Pokemon Trading Card Game. You won’t get to control Ryu, Terry, or any of the other fighters you may know and love. Instead, the story revolves around Taiki, an adolescent SNK vs. Capcom card game enthusiast/generic anime protagonist hoping to become a champ at the local tournament. However, the fun gets cut short when the computer running the game’s programs goes crazy, states its desire to take over the world, and brainwashes every competitor (except, of course, for Taiki and his group of cliche-ridden friends) into a bunch of card-battling zombie slaves. With no other choice, our hero must ascend the tournament tower and destroy the computer before it enslaves the planet.
Yes, you read that correctly. The fate of the world depends on a children’s card game. We are so screwed.
As he progresses through one of the most ridiculous game plots ever conceived, Taiki will have to deal with the computer’s army of mind-controlled combatants. It’s not like you get the chance to avoid them; since the game forces you to move linearly from one competitor to the next, you’ll never get the chance to explore the tower’s multiple floors. Instead, you’ll saunter up to the nearest foe, endure a few rambled threats (because a bunch of kids that can only mutter “Urgh…card…am fight?!” are so fearsome) and engage them in a duel. This involves taking out a random assortment of cards and sorting them on the Touch Screen based on their abilities. Each card can only be used if you happen to have enough energy orbs to back it up; the higher its stats, the more orbs you’ll have to acquire by throwing out the other cards in your hand. Many cards require that you use orbs of a certain color, while others can use secondary moves (boosting stats, health regeneration, etc.) with even more power behind them. The trick is figuring out which cards to sacrifice to get your heavy hitters in the fray, and then keeping them alive.
Sounds complicated, doesn’t it? Thankfully, the game does a decent job of explaining how the basic mechanics work and how to use different features. It’s not like you’ll really need to learn any of the higher-end tactics, though; since your AI-controlled opponents tend to play defensively (if not stupidly), you can usually line up your attack cards and let them take out chunks of your opponent’s health with every turn. Rinse and repeat a few times, face a boss, and move up to the next floor of the tower. Since the cards drawn in battle are randomized, your success is entirely dependent on chance. In order to use the game’s deck modifying system, you’ll have to obtain new and more powerful cards as the story progresses. Ads for SNK vs. Capcom Card Fighters DS proclaims that the game boasts 400 playable cards. Unfortunately, you won’t get to see all of them; a post-game glitch freezes your game, effectively destroying any hope you may have had of amassing the ultimate collection.
“Yes, you read that correctly. The fate of the world depends on a children’s card game. We are so screwed.”Hardcore fans may find solace in the work done on each character. While the classic 2D fighting sprites have been tossed asunder, they’ve been replaced with some fairly detailed cards. Aside from their stats and explanations of their abilities, you’ll be treated to drawn mugshots of the characters and a brief description of their backgrounds. Even if it is nothing more than a drawing, the glowing eyes and fiery flames of Akuma’s card are still striking. It’s not like SNK or Capcom spared any of their less popular characters, either. Fans will likely recognize the casts from Street Fighter, King of Fighters, Metal Slug, Ikari Warriors, Mega Man Legends, Devil May Cry, and even Phoenix Wright. Too bad you won’t actually see them do anything, though – the majority of the attacks involve only brief flashes of light and accompanying sound effects. The only other graphics are of the story mode characters, but their bright colors, anime hairstyles (who the Hell dyes their hair orange and yellow?), and childish appearances don’t lend much to the game.
It’s a shame, really. It’s sad to see one of the most popular handheld games of its time be devolved into this poor excuse of a card game. The only thing more ridiculous than the game’s plot is the amount of grammatical errors in the half-assed dialogue. The tactics involved in deck building and card combat can be deep, but the game rarely steps up to test your skills. Even the game’s biggest draw – the sheer amount of playable character cards – is nullified by a mere glitch that SNK Playmore has yet to rectify. At least the game gives you a decent amount cards filled with detailed drawings and information for each fighter. That still doesn’t stop SNK vs. Capcom Card Fighters DS from reeking of wasted potential. For shame, SNK. You can do better.
Five out of ten
- Gameplay mechanics are easy to understand, even for newcomers
- Cards are designed well
- Tons of cameos from both companies' respective franchises
- Utterly pathetic story
- Translation errors at every turn
- Extremely limited movement means little exploration
- Little replay value due to glitches