Yep. It’s true. I was the one who bought the Neo Geo Pocket Color. That was me. SNK even sent me a bunch of flowers to thank me for my purchase. It didn’t help them stave off bankruptcy but I did do my best to help. I always make that joke. I don’t know anyone in the entire UK that also owns one of these systems and I have to go the “I AM THE ONLY ONE” a la Highlander about it every time. That’s just what I do. I still own the system in fact. I’m not going to get rid of something that I technically regard as my precious, only without the evil undertones and elves following me around. And no Gollum. No fucking Gollum, thank fuck for that. Can you imagine having that thing following you around the place? No thank you.
OK, I’m slightly concerned as to how I managed to go from Card Fighters Clash, one of the most amazing games ever created, to Lord of the Rings… either way. I shall reiterate the fact that THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST AMAZING GAMES EVER CREATED AND ANYONE WHO DISAGREES IS WRONG OR HASN’T PLAYED IT OR HAS PLAYED IT AND IS STILL WRONG.
Just as a warning, there are pictures of this game coming up throughout, obvs, cos I’ve been doing that since day dot, and to be absolutely honest, it’s difficult to showcase this game through how it looks. The screenshots might seem a bit dull and you might not be as enthralled by what you’re about to SEE but basically, I’ll try to make it sound as brilliant as it plays as much as possible.
OH MY GOD YOU GET TO PLAY AGAINST A CHARACTER CALLED THE KID? THAT’S SO AMAZING! LOOK AT HIS SILLY HAIR, HE’S SO AMAZING AND CRAZY RANDOM AND WOW!
This isn’t going to work, is it?
Fine, fine, let’s story it up instead then. KEY POINT: there are two versions of this game: SNK and Capcom. The major difference between them is that you get a starter set containing all SNK cards or all Capcom cards and you get the choice of two different characters HILARIOUSLY named either Shin and Kei (SNK, GEDDIT HA HA HA) or Cap and Comet (CAPCOM, GEDDIT HO HO HO). Yeah, it doesn’t really matter which version you get, it’s all down to personal preference. I own both versions. I get no extra joy from one over the other but in my teens, when I first played the game, I was more inclined to the Capcom stable purely because I had actually played the games involved.
Either way, you’re battling it out to become the Card Clash Champion of Champions of Championships or something. You beat everyone you can talk to, you collect more cards because goodness alone knows that by the time you face aginst the top players, you’re going to need a hell of a lot more than just the shit deck you start off that contains all of the 300 and 400 HP characters that will never be anywhere CLOSE to your final deck because most of them suck and most of them are the shitty filler characters that NOBODY cares about (Rouge? Not the bat girl from Sonic, the one from Power Stone… no? No? Didn’t think so…). Capcom’s staple diet of cards come from Street Fighter and Darkstalkers and stems out to Resident Evil and Rival Schools. SNK has a MAMMOTH stable of characters to choose from, given that basically one of their major franchises are fighting games. However, they kept close to home with the King of Fighters, Fatal Fury and Samurai Shodown series, with a couple of slightly lesser known ones thrown in for good measure because of reasons. They obviously steered clear of the shit ones like World Heroes because NOBODY remembers that game and NOBODY includes me PARADOX REFERENCE. Look, it doesn’t entirely matter if you don’t recognise them. Just know that if Mech Zangief ends up in your hand, you’re good to go. I don’t even care what game he’s MEANT to be from, he’s going to be a killer card for a while.
So when you beat everybody, you’re invited to the final match against the best of the best. Beat all of THEM and you get some nice cards and the titles pop up. Then you get to spend the rest of the time collecting all 300 cards WHICH CANNOT BE DONE BECAUSE GAMING LAWS DICTATE THAT YOU MUST OWN BOTH GAMES AND MUST LINK UP TO OTHER PEOPLE TO DOWNLOAD THEM OR SOMETHING. I dunno, that makes it sound quite futuristic, truth be told. It’s not. The two player function was done in the same way as the Gameboy. You had a cable for it but I don’t know anymore than that because I AM THE ONLY PERSON TO OWN THE SYSTEM AND DIDN’T HAVE THE CABLE HAHAHAHAHAHA.
The game mechanics are quite simple to follow with a few major twists. Firstly, you’re dealt five cards at the start of the game and every time it’s your turn, you pick one more from the deck and can then place a card into your ring. Your ring can hold three cards at a time and at the end of your turn, if you have cards that can attack, you can attack. You could also NOT attack but that’s a bit too polite sometimes and the idea is to annihilate the opposition, not basically LET them pummel you first. If the opponent attacks, you can counterattack and if you have enough SP, you can unite two or all three of your cards to attack at once. These attacks blast through the opponent’s cards to hit your opponent’s HP and it all sounds a bit like Magic, but a really, really simplified version of it.
OH EM GEE THREE CARDS IN A RING ATTACKING THREE OTHER CARDS AND THERE’S ALL SORTS OF BANG BOOM BANG BANG KABLOOIE IN THERE!
It’s still not working, is it?
OK, first things first, the level of strategy you have to employ in this game is something that you learn as you go along. The game doesn’t help you at all. It basically sets you up with the rules, gives you a mini tutorial and gives you a starter battle against a player with crap cards. After that, it sends you out into the wilderness to face the wolves. There are a lot of wolves and they’re all gunning for you. You have to play smart and you have to play very tactically to avoid losing all your decent cards to random attacks like the “KO ONE CHARACTER” card or the “DO ONE BILLION POINTS DAMAGE TO ALL CHARACTERS” card or throw in Chun-Li and she’ll steal all of your SP and set every character back to 100HP. She’s MEANT to help you but that ain’t exactly what I call a HELP, Chunners. Fuck you and the horse you rode in on.
Some of the cards you collect do things automatically when you enter the ring and some last for the entire time that card in there. For example, Leona from The King of Fighters can deal 200 damage to one character in the opponent’s ring or Anakaris from Darkstalkers makes everyone lose their abilities. On the other hand, whenever Guile – the grumpy Street Fighter man – is in the ring, if Leona or Anakaris enter the ring when he’s already there, his ability nullified their skills. This can be REASONABLY helpful when you have Chun-Li in your hand and her super ALMOST-KILL-EVERYTHING skill but it can also be detrimental when you have characters who deal NUCLEAR WARHEAD damage upon entering the ring or something. This is why you must be tactical, otherwise you might as well throw all your cards into the ceiling fan and play a suicidal game of 50-card pick up WHICH IS FUNNY AND RELEVANT BECAUSE YOU CAN ONLY HAVE 50 CARDS IN YOUR DECK AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA OH THAT SHIT IS FUNNY.
LOOK AT THIS SHIT HE’S WINDING UP FOR THE BIG ATTACK ON FISH FACE THERE IT’S GOING TO BE THE CRAZIEST SHIT YOU EVER DID SEE OH EM FUCKING GEE.
Unite attacks will be your bread and butter after a while. You will be pulling them off with alarming regularity and you’ll want to have them saved up for your super special awesome amazing mega super cards that have 1500 HP each and will kill your opponent in one fell swoop. I’ve only done this once. It was amazing. I got nothing decent out of it other than the satisfaction of knowing that I COULD do that.
And that’s what the game is. It’s just straight up fun. There are no two bones about it, it’s just bloody brilliant fun. Sure, some games can last a lifetime if you do too much or try too hard or end up making a silly move or your opponent keeps blocking and counterattacking and has a deck full of four-digit health cards and ridiculous support cards that eke away at your HP over time… I feel like somewhere along the line, this is the precursor to what Hearthstone is now. This is why I enjoyed Hearthstone. The battle system was so similar and so easy to master BECAUSE I’d played this game that it gave me a new sense of enjoyment. But what I really liked was that it felt as though a game I loved and enjoyed SO much was ready to be enjoyed by a new group of people in a similar way, albeit with a different moniker and appearance.
OH EM GEE A DIFFERENT COLOURED FLOOR AND DIFFERENT PEOPLE TO INTERACT WITH/PRESS A BUTTON NEXT TO AND GET NO FUCKING HELP FROM THIS IS JUST THE MOST AMAZING THING I’VE EVER SEEN!
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’m not really selling it THAT well, am I? I’m not a salesman, and if I was, I’ve probably hate myself; you know what those bastards have to do for a living, right? Fuck that for a game of soldiers, thank you very much. Suffice to say though that this game is still a treasure of mine that I genuinely would never part with. It’s a game that I can go back to, dip in and out of, get really into all over again and yet still feel annoyed about that no one I know has heard of it or has ever played it. I could not recommend this game enough without spending a good three hundred words repeating the phrase I CANNOT RECOMMEND THIS GAME ENOUGH and to be fair, you’d get the idea after I wrote that out 50 times.
DO THE MATH… I’ll wait.
50 x 6?
THERE YOU GO.
Now then, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to go and fuck up some zombies in the Resident Evil themed area with my Terry card. BUSTAAAAAAA WOLF! ARE YOU OK?
I managed to shoehorn that in again! GO ME! I’m so proud. Not sure why. Shut up.