In This Battle, The Mightiest Brawler is Crowned!!

Title: The Match of The Millennium SNK™ vs. CAPCOM®
Developer: SNK
Publisher: SNK
Date Published: 1999
Platforms: NeoGeo Pocket Color
ELSPA Rating: 15+

SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of The Millennium (MoTM) is the jewel in the Neogeo Pocket Color's crown. It is the best fighting game ever made for a handheld system (even counting those on the Game Boy Advance as of this writing, February 2003) and was intended as a partner to the Dreamcast fighting game Capcom Vs. SNK (which was developed and published by Capcom). The game was developed by SNK alone, using the NGPC fighting game engine that they had refined over the course of creating handheld incarnations of King of Fighters, Fatal Fury, Gals Fighters and The Last Blade.

The game includes a selection of characters picked from all of the SNK and Capcom fighting game series, with virtually all of their moves intact from the arcade and console versions. It also includes a number of minigames and bonus features. The game is one of few examples where the developers have basically been able to include every feature and detail that they can think of, packing the 32-megabit cartridge with clean visuals, intricate animations, catchy music and subtle references to games in the Capcom and SNK back catalogues. There is so much content in this game that I am forced to break into a feature list:

*Command styles determine how the power gauge (which allows for the most powerful special moves) is operated as well as some other minor rule changes.

The Characters

*Managers aren't playable characters, but offer advice and instructions in Olympic mode.

Several other characters appear in cameos, including Vega, Billy and Sagat.

The SC Olympics

To give the lone player something more to do other than repeatedly playing through the story mode campaign to unlock characters, the game includes a collection of minigames which reward practice with medals (Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum and Cool) as well as versus points which can be spent on unlocking extra special moves for each character. On entering Olympic mode, you can choose either to play with the SNK or Capcom teams- the team you select determines the characters you can use, the manager you can chat with and a which of the subgames you can attempt. You can change teams at any time.

A straightforward endurance event, where you pick a character from the roster and fight through 100 rounds against different opponents. You regain a little of your health after each round.
Time Attack
Similar to the above, but now you must fight through only ten rounds, and are scored on how quickly you complete the event.
First Blast
Your character squares off against an enemy, and the character to land the first blow wins. After ten rounds your wins/losses are totalled up to give your score.
Target 9
(SNK only) A target shooting game with a Metal Slug theme. Mars People (as the manual has it, "the politically correct term for Martians") materialise on the screen and you (as Marco Rossi) must lock them in your sights and shoot them. You have to reload after every six shots and the enemies start to appear faster and faster (it's kind of like Whack-a-Mole). (Pressing 'Select' on the menu screen allows you to play as Fio.)
Blade Arts
(SNK only) A reaction test based on a bonus game from the Samurai Shodown series. The samurai Jubei Yagyu stands in the middle of a training room, and straw dolls pop up from the floor and ceiling. You have to quickly press the right direction to slash the dolls. Probably the best implemented of all the minigames.
Ghost Trick
(Capcom only) A jumping game based on Daimakimura (Ghouls'n Ghosts). As Sir Arthur, you have to jump from pillar to pillar, dodging gargoyles that leap up from the depths, and collecting treasure chests that appear.
Cat Walk
(Capcom only) A rhythm action game starring Felicia from Darkstalkers. You choose a piece of music to dance to and then have to enter the button presses at exactly the right time (just like Dance Dance Revolution, etc.). Pressing 'Select' on the menu screen changes Felicia from blue to pink and the button symbols into mice and bells.
For an added surprise, try winning any medal with Ryu.


Hopefully the above description gives some idea of the depth that is on offer in SNK vs. Capcom. I have not even touched on the comprehensive nature of the actual fighting system itself- the complete move list runs to several hundred items overall! The game's shortcomings are minor. Firstly, the character sprites are limited to four colours (this is a hardware limitation) and are quite small, although they are at least very expressively animated. (Characters are drawn in a cartoony style similar to Pocket Fighter rather than in realistic proportions.) Secondly there are apparently some bugs in the game, one of which (a timing error) causes screen corruption, and the other (of which I have only heard scant information) which can irrevocably trash your save game data(!).

At the time of SNK's closure there was a sequel to this game in development which was unfortunately canned. Rumours persist that Playmore (the inheritors of SNK's assets) are working on a new SNK vs. Capcom game for the Neo Geo (home and/or arcade) system, which could be seen as a sequel of sorts.

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