Long time business enemies Capcom Entertainment and SNK have shared one heck of a decade. With the birth of Fatal Fury
and Street Fighter II
in 1991 these two Japanese companies have been fighting for arcade, and eventually home console, supremacy. But ten years later things would be different, the industry changed, and arcade games declined in popularity.
Ten years ago if you told me Capcom and SNK would team up for not one, but several games I would never have believed you. It was as inconceivable as Mortal Kombat vs. Street Fighter
, or Sonic the Hedgehog
on a Nintendo system. But given the course of the industry, and the climate of the arcade market, a game like Capcom vs. SNK 2 EO
makes complete sense to me … now.
Capcom was at one time was the undisputed champ of 2D hand drawn fighting. Be it Street Fighter II, Dark Stalkers, or the various X-Men games, Capcom’s style bled through with every frame of animation. Though they will always be remembered for their reluctance to move on to Street Fighter III, no company made fighting games quite like Capcom.
If Capcom was the champ, then SNK was the undisputed winner of most prolific publisher of 2D fighters. What with Fatal Fury, Samurai Shodown, Art of Fighting, World Heroes, Last Blade, and even the King of Fighters series, SNK not only housed a lot of franchises, but also followed them all up with plentiful sequels.
Now that Capcom and SNK are gearing up to fight, each company has put forth their best characters for battle. As you can imagine, Capcom vs. SNK 2 ends up being a battle between the companies’ two biggest franchises, Street Fighter II and King of Fighters. All 12 original World Warriors are represented, and most of the original Fatal Fury cast is back, too.
The two companies have thrown in some interesting choices, as well, including Morrigan from Dark Stalkers, Kyosuke Kagami from Rival Schools United By Fate, Haohmaru from Samurai Shodown, and Maki from Final Fight 2 (the poorly received Super NES game, of all things). In all there are 46 characters, and two hidden playable bosses, not a paltry number by any means.
But a game like this isn’t only about the characters, you see the original failed to live up to its expectations due in large part to its slapped together feel. Thankfully Capcom has gone back to the drawing board. This time players aren’t forced to use the lame ratio system, but rather can choose between 1 on 1 (Street Fighter 2 style), 3 on 3 (King of Fighters Style), or a slightly revised ratio set up. No matter what you pick, though, Capcom vs. SNK 2 throws forth a challenge each and every time.
The scoring set up is also completely revised. Now your score is more connected to your actual performance. You’re score goes up as you successfully connect attacks, special moves, and combos … but falls if you get hit or waste too much time. The score also connects to who you will fight and the quality of your eventual ending, awarding you for learning how to play (and not just smashing buttons).
The grooves are all new too. Unlike the original, Capcom vs. SNK 2 features not two, but six different grooves (C, A, P, S, N, and K, respectably) each different from the last. The C-Groove plays more like Super Street Fighter II, while the K-Groove is strictly Samurai Shodown 2. Regardless of which groove you pick, there is plenty of depth and advantages for each, and will likely have you playing for months just to master each..
And if that wasn’t enough, Capcom has added customizable grooves so you can make your own. While that might not seem like much compared to the rest of this impressive game, I ended up spending way more time customizing than I’d care to admit. For real SNK and Capcom aficionados this option allows you to make the game play like any 2D fighter of the last ten years … a mighty impressive feat.
When the GameCube version was introduced in late 2002, gamers were shocked and dismayed that Capcom had actually dumbed down the controls by added a new EO mode. This “Easy Operation” way of playing allowed you to do special moves by simply flicking the right analog stick, instead of learning the moves and doing them with button and stick combos.
This mode was something completely left out of the PlayStation 2 and Dreamcast versions, and frankly, many Capcom purists had hoped it would be absent from the Xbox port, as well. But there’s no such luck, as this version is almost identical to that of its GameCube brother. Thankfully, it’s something you can turn off, and probably won’t affect your over all experience. But I would have preferred the game have been called anything other Capcom vs. SNK 2 EO.
Of course, it’s not really these grooves, or the EO mode, or even the 48 person roster that is pulling the people in on this game. Instead it’s the Xbox Live support. Capcom vs. SNK 2 marks the first fighting game to go online in the United States, not just on the Xbox, but all next generation systems.
For the most part the game runs extremely well using the Xbox Live. It’s a tad slower than it is offline, but after you’re second or third game, it feels pretty natural. For the most part there isn’t much lag, and I never really felt cheated by a bad internet connection.
There are a few inherent problems with playing it online, though. For one thing, since it’s a one on one game, it’s sometimes a little difficult to find rooms just waiting around. I had more luck just doing the quick match, and even that took a few tries to get to work. I also found that people would disconnect from the game the moment I won, robbing me of a win on my overall ranking system. Hopefully these problems, as well as a few other minor issues, are resolved in an update of some sort.
And you aren’t just limited to playing gamers in the United States. If you feel especially daring, you can take on some of the Japanese gamers, some of which take their fighting games VERY serious. You are also able to check your rankings throughout the world, though, you might not want to do that until you’ve played for a few days. It would be nice if you were able to check ranking by the country you live in, but there does not seem to be an option for that.
It should also be noted that you are able to play online without the EO function. Even if you don’t play with the mode completely turned off, you can see if the other person chooses it or not, so you can make fun of them for using cheap tactics. With a few reservations, this is a great online game.
Graphically Capcom vs. SNK 2 is Capcom at the top of its game. Though there are some characters that look a bit pixelated (Morrigan leaps to mind), on the whole the graphics and animation are superb. I especially like the little reinvented details, like Blanka’s shock attack, and Haohmaru menacing hurricane. They may be the same moves, but they have NEVER looked better!
It would have been nice if Capcom could have gone back through the graphics and improved some of the rough edges. Overall the game looks good, but a tad dated. But then, I suppose this argument could be brought against any 2D fighter in this day and age. But still, some of the characters should have been fixed up a little.
If there is a downside to Capcom vs. SNK 2 it’s the lack of extras. Granted the game is online, and features two hidden characters, and several extra options, it just lacks the substance we’ve come to expect from Capcom, especially when you consider how much there was in Marvel vs. Capcom 2. There are also only 11 levels to fight almost fifty characters in, something I was extremely disappointed with. Let’s hope Capcom allows gamers to download more backgrounds, and content.
Some gamers may also have a problem with the controls. No matter which Xbox control you grip, Capcom vs. SNK 2 is going to cramp up your hand. You can easily enough configure the controls, but you can’t seem to change the two trigger buttons. I found this to be extremely troubling, since I couldn’t get comfortable using the black and white buttons on the Xbox S-Type control, and would have preferred to use these triggers.
But what let me down the most was the lack of character diversification. I like the Street Fighter II characters, but Capcom’s list of classic characters reaches far beyond what is represented here. The same goes with SNK, who only gives us the most basic line up of characters. It’s a shame more Samurai Shodown or Rival School characters didn’t make the list, but with a line up of 48 playable fighters, it’s awfully hard to complain for long.
If you can’t wait any longer for Soul Calibur 2
, and can’t buy Guilty Gear X2
because you don’t have a PlayStation 2, then this is the perfect game for you. In many ways you have played this game before, but never quite as well put together as it is here. There’s a lot of nostalgia involved in a game like this, but given the chance you’ll see why this sequel is one of the best playing, looking, and deepest 2D fighting games of the last decade … and easily makes for a great standard to be beat in the next ten years.Not to toot my own horn, but Defunct Games devoted a whole weekend to Capcom vs. SNK 2 when it was released on the Dreamcast. It featured information about how to make your grooves EXACTLY like other fighting games (like Art of Fighting), reviews of the covers, a special list of missing characters, the anatomy of Dan, reviews of each of the levels (including pictures of where they came from), and much, much more. It’s something everything Capcom and SNK fan should check out.