Few people can recall Neo Geo’s failed handheld system and even less have ever even seen one. Missing out on this system isn’t considered a huge loss as the software support was abysmal at best, but there was one title that I always had stashed in my camouflage-colored system and that was SNK Vs. Capcom Card Fighters. Very few companies cater to their fans the way Capcom and SNK do and this game was a portable treat that was the very definition of fan-service.
After only two iterations of the franchise on the Neo Geo Pocket Color the series went into hibernation; that is until recently. SNK has decided to resurrect the series on Nintendo’s money-producing handheld the DS. While the core game remains the same the trip to this dual-screened portable was less than flawless which leaves the game feeling a bit unpolished and sloppy.
The game revolves around you; a young card fighter deemed with the task of working your way up a tower filled with brainwashed card players. Each opponent has had their mind altered by a sinister computer named Max and after defeating them you are able to restore them to their former selves. The tower is divided up into two sections; one for Capcom and the other for SNK. Each half has specific cards that you can obtain and some levels are even themed with special cards as well.
For the most part blasting through this tower is a cinch, but there are opponents who require you to bring them special cards before they will battle you. Once you manage to clear the entire tower you can go back through the game in a special mode, and this is where one of the biggest problems lies. There is a programming glitch that causes the game to freeze when you talk to a specific character. While this is a minor hindrance it does impede you from completing the game 100%. However, if you are only in it for the single-player ride then this can be overlooked, but it still is amazing that this little problem made it into the final game.
The battle system consists of a simplified formula from other card games. This makes it easily accessible to gamers who have never played a game of this type before. There are a total of three card types in the game: action, character, and counter. Each player is given 50 cards to begin with and you can use force icons to place characters in battle. These are earned depending on how many characters you have in play. Each character card has hit points and battle points that represent health and attack power. During a turn you can choose to attack or defend and if your opponent is not defending you will deal damage to them; simple enough.
Overall the game leaves something to be desired when it comes to strategy. The victor is usually the one who places the most characters in the game the quickest. The key to this though comes from managing your deck before each match. While you could coast by on the default deck it is nice to setup a killer arsenal and simply obliterate your opponents, which will also come in handy when you decide to step into the multi-player arena. As far as touch screen functionality the game is sans this feature outside of using the stylus to rip open new packs of cards; lame.
SNK Vs. Capcom Card Fighters DS has an enormous amount of cards stemming from both universes. You will see familiar favorites such as Mai from King of Fighters and even Dante and Phoenix Wright from the Capcom camp. Each card is also littered with a bit of background for each character (this goes back to the fan-service thing again) and some cards even have special abilities unique to the character that you can use by spending force icons. The downside is that most of the translation is dismal at best leaving most of the cards incomprehensible, which is a shame because that is simply a sign of a rushed translation.
Once you get tired of battling alone SNK Vs. Capcom Card Fighters DS does off a nice local multi-player aspect. You can battle it out with a buddy via the DS’ WiFi connection, and even swap cards. This portion of the game is very bare-bones and without game-sharing it will be difficult to find someone who actually owns the game to play with, but it is a nice addition.
It’s hard not to recommend SNK Vs. Capcom Card Fighters DS simply because it has so much going for it. An easy to use battle system, classic characters, and a solid visual style however, with the aforementioned glitch and poor translation you can’t help but feel a bit disappointed when you power this one up. If you can look past these minor gripes I highly recommend giving this one a chance, I guarantee you will not find a lack of fan-service anywhere in this package.