Review – SNK VS. Capcom: Card Fighters’ Clash (Switch)
This is no exaggeration: I have waited twenty-two years for this moment. I vividly remember seeing reviews and articles for SNK VS. Capcom: Card Fighters’ Clash on magazines back in 1999-2000. It looked like the coolest portable game ever, coming out basically alongside the Game Boy Color hit Pokémon Trading Card Game. The problem is that Card Fighters’ Clash was a Neo Geo Pocket Color exclusive, a system basically nobody owned. It lived as a cult hit for many, many, MANY years, until SNK and Code Mystics finally decided to bring it back after the massive success of Neo Geo Pocket Color Selection Vol.1. Thank you guys. It was worth the wait.
This is not a remake of the Neo Geo Pocket Color original. It barely can be called a remaster. It follows the same premise seen in Neo Geo Pocket Color Selection Vol.1, with the same button layout, save states, overlays and display filters. Just like that collection, you will need to manually adjust the screen size to something less embarassing when you boot it up for the first time. Everything that worked (as well as everything that didn’t work) in that collection is replicated in this remaster of SNK VS. Capcom: Card Fighters’ Clash. The difference being, this is a card game. We don’t need to worry about fast inputs and button combinations. This is the perfect game to enjoy on a portable, given its relaxed nature and quick battles.
SNK VS. Capcom: Card Fighters’ Clash is one of the simplest virtual trading card games I have ever played, and that’s not a negative. Considering its age, as well as the limitations of the portable system it was released for, it works incredibly well, and it holds up better than I would have expected. This is a simple battle game inspired by the Pokémon Trading Card Game and a bit of Yu-Gi-Oh, where you’re tasked with depleting your opponent’s life points with your roster of SNK and Capcom fighters, as well as action cards that double as Yu-Gi-Oh Spell Cards.
At the beginning of each turn, you draw a card. You’re then allowed to “summon” one fighter, or upgrade an existing fighter with another compatible character (it sounds confusing but it is pretty straightforward). Cards only have two attributes: their strength, which doubles as their health and attack against enemies, and the amount of action points each card gives you once summoned. Action points can be used in order to play the aforementioned action cards, as well as special abilities some characters have.
You can only enter the battle phase with a character summoned in a prior turn. You can choose to attack with all of your fighters at once, if possible, but that might leave them “frozen” against an incoming enemy attack during his/her next turn. You’ll need to plan ahead, as it’s crucial to have, at the very least, one card acting as your defensive barrier against direct life point attacks. The first player to deplete the opponent’s HP wins. It’s as straightforward as that, requiring no more than five minutes inside the game’s tutorial in order to understand all of the rules. Despite the simplicity, SNK VS. Capcom: Card Fighters’ Clash is chock-full of different cards, allowing for a near infinite amount of deck possibilities.
Add in a neat little campaign which allows you to tackle each of the mandatory sections in any order, and you get a simple, but excellent card-based RPG that works incredibly well on a portable. I may have played great Switch card games like Shadowverse: Champion’s Battle a while back, but even the best modern games suffer from some pacing issues, as well as an excessive amount of hand-holding. SNK VS. Capcom: Card Fighters’ Clash teaches everything you need to know in about five minutes and then throws you into its vast, colorful world. It just wants you to have fun with it as soon as possible.
Any issues featured in SNK VS. Capcom: Card Fighters’ Clash had nothing to do with the porting process, and were just a consequence of the hardware limitations of the Neo Geo Pocket Color. With that being said, this game has aged surprisingly well. Being able to collect gorgeous renditions of your favorite SNK and Capcom characters in 8-bit card form and battle in simple, but deeply strategic matches, rarely gets old. This game deserves the cult classic status it has held for the past two decades, and it’s a must for RPG enthusiasts and fans of both companies.
The overworld visuals are simple yet charming, but the card designs hold up surprisingly well. I absolutely love the art style used in this game.
You will learn how to play the game in about five minutes at the very most. It’s a very simple and addictive card game system that is only held back by some hardware limitations, especially when it comes to navigating menus and assembling decks.
An issue present in most games released for portable systems from back in the day: a decent, but overall unmemorable soundtrack hampered by hardware limitations.
Fun Factor: 9.0
Dare I say, it’s as good as a game as the Pokémon TCG Game Boy Color adaptation. The true definition of a cult hit, a hidden gem. It holds up surprisingly well.
Final Verdict: 8.5
SNK VS. Capcom: Card Fighters’ Clash is available now on Neo Geo Pocket Color and Switch.
Reviewed on Switch.
A copy of SNK VS. Capcom: Card Fighters’ Clash was provided by the publisher.