SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium Review – Pocket Dream Match

    Title: SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium
    Developer: SNK
    Release Date: February 17, 2021
    Reviewed On: Switch
    Publisher: SNK
    Genre: Fighting

There have been a few dream matchups in video games, and some of the crossovers have been interesting, but none better than Capcom vs. SNK. Both companies were pioneers of fighting games throughout the ’90s, so you can probably imagine the excitement surrounding the release of Capcom vs. SNK: Millennium Fight 2000. It was everything fans could have hoped for as it pitted Ken Masters from Street Fighter against Terry Bogard from Fatal Fury, and better yet, it finally allowed fans to settle the bitter Ryo versus Ryu debate once and for all.

While more fans remember that match-up, we can’t forget the SNK developed SNK vs. Capcom series, which was entirely different. This lineup included the Card Fighters spin-off, the impressive Neo Geo-powered SVC Chaos, and SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium on Neo Geo Pocket Color. Most don’t realize that the portable fighter was actually the first official entry in the dream match franchise, even predating Capcom’s more popular efforts.

SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium joins games like Fatal Fury First Contact, The King of Fighters R-2, and Samurai Shodown! 2 on Switch as part of the Neo Geo Pocket Color Selection. While the other games in the lineup may have been interesting distractions at best, SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium definitely stands out as an entertaining fighting game package by any standard.

Much like the other Neo Geo Pocket fighters, SNK vs. Capcom is bound by the limitations of the handheld, especially with the two-button control scheme, but that doesn’t stop it from offering a great deal of variety in its core fighting gameplay and other fun extras. The game has a stacked roster of 26 characters, featuring fan favorites from both sides, everyone from Kyo Kusanagi (The King of Fighters) to Morrigan (Darkstalkers), with other secret boss characters to unlock. Even with just two buttons, the gameplay variety is strong here, thanks to the diverse cast of characters with all their signature moves and combos intact. The controls are smooth and responsive, and it’s quite easy to chain up all the special moves and combos, especially when combined with the tag team mechanics.

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If the roster wasn’t enough, SNK vs. Capcom allows players to choose between different fighting systems and modes. There’s the standard one vs. one, but that’s not what this game is known for, and so the real treat is in the tag and team battle modes. Tag battle lets you pick two characters that can be tagged in and out during a fight in real-time, while team battle follows the classic 3 versus 3 team rules from The King of Fighters.

Having different ways to enjoy arcade mode certainly adds to the replay value, especially when experimenting with different characters and super meters. There is even a storyline here, which can be a bit on the random side, but it allows for some pretty cool boss encounters with the likes of M. Bison, Geese Howard, and other hidden bosses.

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If the core fighting wasn’t already fun enough, an Olympic mode comes in both Capcom and SNK flavors. This offers a range of simple and yet surprisingly clever mini-games. On the Capcom side, there’s a Ghosts ‘n Goblins-inspired mini-game, while the SNK camp has one based on Metal Slug, and there are others too.

These mini-games are fun diversions, and it can be surprisingly compelling to chase a high score in them. Speaking of scores, the game keeps a detailed record of all scores and fights across various modes, and so part of the game’s appeal is to keep coming back and besting your own personal records.

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What really helps SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium shine even now is how it genuinely feels like a labor of love from the developers. There’s so much fan service and attention to detail tucked into the package.

Even though the Neo Geo Pocket Color itself may feel dated, the graphical and visual style of the game still impresses, thanks to detailed colored backdrops and smooth character animations. This definitely feels like a game that pushed the boundaries of the handheld’s hardware. Plus, it’s especially cool to see miniature versions of Capcom characters done in Neo Geo Pocket style, and the chiptune renditions of classic Capcom tunes are awesome.

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SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium holds up really well as a 2021 release on Switch, and while the other fighting games in the Neo Geo Pocket Color Selection were interesting curiosities at best, this one feels like a legitimately strong fighting game experience in its own right. The game undoubtedly suffers from the basic limitations holding back other games on the handheld. Still, thanks to the diverse roster of characters, game modes, mini-games, and the sheer fanservice detail, this is an excellent retro fighting experience on Switch.

Score:
/10
A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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Jahanzeb Khan

Old SEGA games will go up in value... you'll see!