Card game or fighting game? Let’s find out together in this review how SNK Vs Capcom: Card Fighters’ Clash aims to bring back an old joy for Neo Geo Pocket in the spotlight
SNK recently decided to re-propose some of the best titles originally released for Neo Geo Pocket Color, its glorious portable console that should have rivaled the very popular Game Boy (by the way, did you know of the rumors about the possible arrival Game Boy games on the Nintendo Switch Online program?). The undisputed sovereignty of the Nintendo machine, however, left very little space on the market for other contenders, and in fact the Neo Geo Pocket (as well as the subsequent color version) is remembered by a relatively small number of people, compared to the Game Boy itself. There is therefore a good chance that you do not know games like SNK Vs Capcom: Card Fighters’ Clash, the second title of the NeoGeo Pocket Color Selection series, which we will talk about in this review.
A crossover for connoisseurs
Originally released in 1999, Card Fighters’ Clash is a game (or rather a couple of games) that carries a name of great importance on its shoulders. Mentioning software houses such as SNK and Capcom is still something able to arouse the interest of a large slice of enthusiasts. The fact that it was a collaboration between these giants (at a time when crossovers were not yet as widespread as they are now) only increases the ambition of this title, and if you know, or are passionate about, any of the sagas produced by these software houses, you might want to know more. So beyond all of this, what is Card Fighters’ Clash?
Let’s Catch Them All – SNK Vs Capcom Review: Card Fighters’ Clash
As already anticipated in this review, SNK Vs Capcom: Card Fighters’ Clash is a crossover between the most famous sagas of the two respective software houses. More in detail, it is a card game that winks at the greats of the genre (like Magic: The Gathering, so to speak), with some RPG mechanics. In fact, there will be a story mode that will allow us, as a novice (or a) young person, to participate in the Card Clash tournament held in Tokyo. After a short tutorial we will be free to explore the various areas of the city of Osaka, reachable by a map that connects the different areas. Each of these is characterized in an exquisite way, also presenting numerous quotes and easter eggs (not too hidden) to the videogame universes of the two Japanese software houses.
The game system cannot fail to remind you of the Pokémon series on several occasions: in fact, we will have to explore the game world, interacting with the various PNGs to challenge them or undertake exchanges to collect the 300 cards in total. The final goal will then be to defeat the five masters of Card Clash, who will release us a sort of medals (called SC Coins) with which we can then access the final tournament, in which we will have to compete with the champions. Finally, another point in common with the famous Game Freak series is the fact that Card Fighters’ Clash came out in two distinct versions (both included in this port), one dedicated to Capcom and the other to SNK.
Let’s make the deck – SNK Vs Capcom Review: Card Fighters’ Clash
As easily understood at this point of the review, the cards that we will find in SNK Vs Capcom: Card Fighters’ Clash will represent the heroes and villains of the sagas created by the two software houses. In the game we will be able to freely compose our deck of 50 cards, with the fighters that we will get mainly (but not only) by defeating other opponents in the game. Therefore, if you are a fan, you can only rejoice in meeting well-known faces such as Ryu, Terry Bogard, Mega Man and the protagonists of the Metal Slug saga (the latter in particular will break the hearts of many, given that Metal Slug has been classified as one of the most loved titles by Italians).
The rules of the game are also quite simple to understand, but the whole gradually reveals an interesting depth, which leaves room for planning different approaches and strategies. The final goal will be to take down our opponent, bringing his life points (HP) to zero. To do this we will have to attack it with our hero cards that will be deployed on the field, and will also have the task of defending us from the enemy offensive. We will then find characters with unique abilities and a whole series of action cards to play to turn the tide of the game. In spite of what one might think, the mechanics have aged quite well, and, once the basic rules have been mastered (a few practice games will be required), the game still manages to be quite enjoyable today, also thanks to a difficulty that, at least in the first few bars, it didn’t seem too difficult.
A Matter of Ports – SNK Vs Capcom Review: Card Fighters’ Clash
Talking about the technical part of SNK Vs Capcom: Card Fighters’ Clash makes little sense, considering that, as we have already specified earlier in this review, it is a title released for a portable console, more than 20 years ago. We are not facing a remake, but rather a port that keeps most aspects of the original titles intact, including 8-bit graphics that will be appreciated by retrogaming fans. SNK, however, has added some new features, such as the ability to rewind time (similar to what happens with the NES and SNES titles on Switch), and has included the possibility of using the title with a frame that reproduces the Neo Geo Pocket Color ( there are several, complete with a filter that mimics the original console display and buttons that work when pressed on the touch screen).
The inclusion of both originally released titles in one package was certainly a welcome move. Although in fact (as the Pokémon tradition teaches) the two versions resemble each other in many respects, the degree of replayability can only benefit from it, especially if we consider the possibility of exchanging cards between the two versions, which partially compensates for the impossibility of connect with other human users. Finally, we would like to point out that an Italian translation is not currently included. The title is in fact available in English, with the possibility, for those who wish, to switch to the Japanese version.
Carta sings… more or less
SNK Vs Capcom: Card Fighters’ Clash is a title that is surprisingly enjoyable even now. A rewarding game mechanics today as then (once mastered), is joined by a pleasant story mode, which is inspired by the Pokémon series (on the other hand, the two titles are practically the same age), but without reaching the glories. If card games do not scare you and you are passionate about the Capcom and SNK series we can safely recommend the purchase, also given the not too high price of the package, but keep in mind that, since there is no Italian translation, you will need to know English to understand the rules of the game. If, on the other hand, you are not particularly accustomed to card games and you are practically fasting for most of the sagas of the two aforementioned giants, you can easily move on.
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Dusting off an old glory
Points in favor
- One of the most loved titles for Neo Geo Pocket
- Still fun and rewarding card game mechanics
- Both versions in one package
- Affordable price
- If you’re unfamiliar with the SNK and Capcom series, the game loses a good chunk of its charm
- If you don’t like card games, go ahead
- The lack of an Italian translation could discourage those who do not chew English