So far 2004 has been a pretty good year for 2D fighting games and those who love them. Between classic collections (like the Street Fighter Anniversary Collection) and brand new entries (such as the new Guilty Gear titles), pixel-based brawlers are having something of a revival this year. By all accounts if you have a two dimensional fighter ready to go, this is the year to release it … unless it’s mediocre. And I hate to say it, but SVC Chaos: SNK vs. Capcom will fail to impress even the most die hard fans.
SVC Chaos isn’t the first time Capcom and SNK met to do battle, heck; it’s not even the first time on the Xbox. Last year we saw the release of Capcom vs. SNK 2 EO, which was essentially Capcom’s take on the long-time rivalry. This time around we have pretty much the same principal, only with SNK’s programmers bringing the magic. Unfortunately the result this time isn’t nearly as good as the 2003 model, making it hard to justify paying full price this game.
Fans of SNK and Capcom’s fighting games will have a lot of familiar faces waiting for them when they load up SVC Chaos. From the start up each side has twelve characters ready for them, with another twelve just waiting to be found. With 36 fighters you shouldn’t have a problem finding somebody you feel comfortable with, but it’s worth noting that last year’s Capcom vs. SNK 2 EO featured ten more characters.
Capcom’s side is populated by mostly Street Fighter characters, including Ryu, Ken, Chun-Li, Guile, Dhalsim, and M. Bison. In fact, it’s not until you find some of the hidden Capcom characters (like Zero from the Mega Man series or Demitri from Darkstalker) that you really see anybody that wasn’t in Capcom’s long-running Street Fighter II games.
The same can be said for SNK’s side, which is made up almost exclusively of characters found in the popular King of Fighters franchise. Thankfully SNK found room for a number of Samurai Shodown characters (such as Earthquake and Genjyuro), but I can’t help but notice how out of place they looked next to the likes of Terry, Geese, and Mai. Die hard loyalists may like the cast of fighters, but I can’t see too many people getting excited about either side’s roster.
SVC Chaos’ major sin is not its bland roster; it’s the stiff control that keeps the game from being any fun at all. It’s almost as if they purposely made all of the characters as hard to control as possible just so everybody would be on the same level. What makes all this so painful is that we have countless other examples of how these characters are supposed to play. It’s not like SNK is snatching up the most obscure names, we’re dealing with characters Capcom has modified and refined dozens of times over the years, characters that should not feel like they’re making their first appearance here.
The fighting engine doesn’t feel completely finished, which inevitably leads to button mashing and utter chaos. Performing special moves is not as painless as in other fighting games, and the results are never really that impressive anyway. The game just lacks any energy whatsoever, and is extremely boring when compared to Capcom vs. SNK 2 EO. It’s not the worst playing fighting game, but it’s flawed enough to keep even a die hard fighting fan like myself from enjoying it.
Thankfully the graphics are interesting to look at. Although Capcom vs. SNK 2 EO is a superior game in every other sense, the game seemed content with keeping the characters looking exactly like they did in their old games. This wasn’t bad for us nostalgia buffs, but it’s always nice to see some fresh graphics, especially when it’s done by a whole new artist. SVC Chaos makes their characters look much darker and with a harder edge, which was fun to look at … for awhile.
It’s the Capcom side that features the biggest make over, with some varied results. Most of the characters are more shoulder-heavy, which has a funny way of making Ryu, Ken, and Sagat look a little silly. On the other hand, SNK’s artists have managed to make Balrog look menacing and give Guile even wilder hair cut. And I’m not sure what they did to Dhalsim, but now he looks scarier than he ever did before; truly disturbing.
Like the character roster, the level designs are all pretty standard stuff. They don’t draw from any classic SNK or Capcom backgrounds, but they do manage to offer a few unique stages to fight in. Both the interior and exterior locations are great looking, but they don’t have the same polish found in Capcom vs. SNK 2. I suppose the backgrounds are really the least of SVC Chaos’ problems, but it would have been nice to see some of the brilliant level designs SNK usually gives us.
SVC Chaos doesn’t seem interested in any of the enhancements found in Capcom vs. SNK 2 EO, or any other recent fighting game for that matter. With nothing more than an arcade mode, survival mode, practice mode, and multiplayer modes, SVC Chaos is the epitome of bare bones. I’d go as far as to say that 2D fighters released ten years ago on the Super NES featured more options than SNK’s brand new fighter.
The arcade mode is much like all single player experiences you’d find in a fighting game; it’s one battle after another, until you eventually beat it. SVC Chaos doesn’t do anything different here, and the same goes for the Survival mode, which simply has you fighting characters without the prospect of an ending.
It won’t take you long to grow tired of these two game modes and search out real people for you to fight against. Thankfully SVC Chaos allows gamers to challenge people online with the Xbox Live. In my time playing the game online I ran into very few connection problems or lag issues, but finding real people to play against was a real pain. With the exception of a few new gamers, there just weren’t a lot of people willing to play SVC Chaos online. The issues I had with the control pop up online and only make things more frustrating. I appreciate SNK’s attempt to bring replay value to the game, but I just cannot recommend this online mode over what is found in Guilty Gear X2 #Reload or Capcom vs. SNK 2 EO for a fraction of the price.
At the end of the day, SVC Chaos: SNK vs. Capcom really confuses me. Here’s a game by a company that knows a thing or two about making fighting games, but you’d never know it by this product. The game just doesn’t feel like it’s finished, and lacks any of the appeal that made these characters popular in the first place. If you’re going to pick up one battle between these two companies, make sure it’s Capcom vs. SNK 2 EO and not this dud.
SVC Chaos isnâ€™t the first time Capcom and SNK have come together to do battle. Heck, itâ€™s not even the first time on the Xbox. And now that both games are out for us to judge, learn why you should hold on to your copy of Capcom vs. SNK 2 EO a little while longer.
Rating: 5 Flawed
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.
It's questionable how accurate this is, but this is all that's known about Cyril Lachel: A struggling writer by trade, Cyril has been living off a diet of bad games, and a highly suspect amount of propaganda. Highly cynical, Cyril has taken to question what companies say and do, falling ever further into a form of delusional madness. With the help of quality games, and some greener pastures on the horizon, this back-to-basics newsman has returned to provide news so early in the morning that only insomniacs are awake.