Gentlepeople of the internet, this is not a drill. This is indeed a Capcom fighting game. Your eyes are not deceiving you. You are indeed looking at a title that won’t cause Zangief to flip a table in disgust. This is Capcom VS SNK Pro.
That’s all they did to it. They added a ‘Pro’ to the end of the game’s title and that’s it. Seriously.
I know. I know. It feels like the end of an era or something. I was sorta hoping for something ridiculous like Capcom VS SNK Pro Extra Plus Alpha Beta Cosine Snickers or some such gubbins… so it feels a bit wrong from the very start.
However, your eyes have also not deceived you. This is a ‘Sorta’ review. And anyone who knows me at all will testify that I ADORE Capcom and SNK fighting games and cannot even believe that I’m not giving this title my full adoration as well. One of my favourite fighting games is indeed the GLORIOUS sequel to this game. So why is the original title not to my liking?
Basically because it’s the prequel. And it shows.
To put it into context, this is the type of game that tests the waters for a company. It is not designed to be the be all and end all of fighting games. It is not designed to be the best in the series. The problem that this game has as an entity in the genre is that it feels like an experiment.
It’s not a failed experiment, by the by, but it is still an experiment and will remain an experiment therefore. Because science. And gaming.
To also put this into context, this is the FIRST of the series of crossovers with SNK that included the aforementioned sequel, the Neo Geo Pocket Color fighting game and card game, plus SVC Chaos. I shall get to that one eventually.
And you can wait for that. We can ALL wait for that one.
Now, given the pedigree of Capcom fighting games, there a couple of things that I can completely forgive this game for. But by that same token, there are a fair number of things that I cannot and this is why the game is in my ‘sorta’ category when it really ought not to be.
If you’re wondering what the hell is going here then what we have here is a giant crossover of two mega franchises and a fighting game the features two mega boss characters going at it hammer and tongs to collect a gallon of Street Fighter characters and SNK fighters’ energies.
THEY WANT THEIR BODIES.
Possibly sexually. I DON’T KNOW. IT’S M.BISON AND GEESE. WHO KNOWS WHAT THEY DO WITH THE BODIES AFTERWARDS.
Depending on your first character choice, you will get the opposing franchise’s boss character as your boss. So choosing Ryu means you get Geese as your main boss and choosing Terry gives you M.Bison (and occasionally Balrog as a sub-boss).
Other than that level of stroytelling, we’re sort of at a loss. All of the characters’ main motives are still the same and there’s not much in the way of exposition save for the news report at the end of the game that sums up the fact that your team has won (as the MAIN NEWS STORY) before saying ‘oh yeah, natural disasters happened, never mind, tee hee.’
EXPLOSIONS AND EARTHQUAKES HAPPENED BUT DON’T WORRY EVERYONE, HERE’S DAN HIBIKI (DAN HI-FUCKING-BIKI) TO TELL US HE’S A LEDGE.
He isn’t by the way. We all hate him.
First and foremost, let me make this clear: the fighting in this game is perfectly good. It runs well, it is your typical Capcom fighting game with SNK characters along for the ride. It isn’t over the top what-the-fuckery like you get with the other Capcom crossovers. It is more like Street Fighter vs Street Fighter. The fireballs are normal sized, the fighting doesn’t defy the laws of physics with jumping and you don’t have any characters that are as annoying as a child with a large toy truck running it up and down a cobbled pavement OH MY GOD, BEN, STOP IT. STOP IT NOW.
We do get a responsive, solid, flowing battle system that just works because they haven’t tampered with the fighting engine at all. There’s no need to. They needed to refine a few things so that the SNK characters could slot right in and that’s absolutely fine. They did a bloody good job of it in fact.
But the problem is that they really didn’t take the time to refine EVERYTHING and as such, it sorta makes it less of an experience.
What’s most disappointing is the way that they presented the game to you, the player. It is functional and there’s definitely a lot of things to do… but there is a hollowness to way the fighting in presented that detracts from the overall experience.
You are introduced to everything through robotic voices with no punch, no verve, no excitement. You get a very lacklustre, almost comically bad versus screen that looks very lazy and boring by comparison to other fighters of the time, including Capcom’s own Street Fighter Alpha 3. The majority of the artwork feels a bit tacked on. The loading screens for this version are simply artwork screens featuring each character, some of which is actually quite bland. The SNK artwork looks more realistic, but is only available for the Capcom characters, and vice versa. This was changed in the sequel, but it does lack some charm – AND YOU KNOW I LOVE ME SOME CHARM FNAR FNAR.
Even less forgivable are the characters sprites themselves. I will forgive them one thing: the SNK sprites do look phenomenal because they had to totally redraw them from scratch, given that they didn’t exist beforehand. I can forgive them that. Well done, Capcom.
HOWEVER. Their own sprites manage to suffer tremendously at the hands of this. Again, the majority of this was sorted in the sequel (but not ALL OF THEM) but the sad fact that most of the Capcom sprites are stolen straight from Street Fighter Alpha 3 is quite sad really. I say that but Ryu and Ken were taken from Street Fighter 3 and as such, their sprites actually look more out of place than the rest of them. Their sprites look AMAZING. they have the detail and the fluidity that the rest of the game’s sprites don’t have. I’m not suggesting that they should make them ALL look like this but the amount of effort gone into making the SNK sprites look so gorgeous makes the rest of the sprites look dated. They could easily have tidied them up a bit. I mean, you had guests coming over, Capcom. Have you no pride? Do at least put an air freshener in the toilet or something, guys. Sheesh.
If I look at the level of animation in this game and the sequel, it is clear that this game suffers. Yes, it was on the original Playstation while the sequel got the superior Playstation 2 hardware, but it is very noticeable and sometimes the lack of flair and smoothness is very obvious. What’s even worse is the sprite for Morrigan which EVERYONE talks about. Given that Darkstalkers had a much cartoonier, anime-style feel to its graphics, it is no surprise that her low-res sprite sticks out like a sore thumb. Hers in the sprite that needed the most tidying up and yet they really didn’t do anything at all to it. That’s not to say this isn’t acceptable. It just isn’t great. It was just passable on this version. The sequel? Not so much.
One of the game’s main mechanics is also one of its biggest problems. It was, again, sorted in the sequel to make more sense, and it is available in some ways in this game but the ratio system is not implemented well in the arcade mode here.
Essentially, you get four points to play with in your arcade team. Some characters are worth one point, some are worth two, and the majority of your obviously stronger, more boss-like characters have three points. You can have a team of four 1s, a team of two 2s, a 3 and a 1 or a 2 and two 1s.
Make sense? Good.
Characters are already ASSIGNED values so the character they obviously deem to be weaker in some way are weakened even more. Cammy, one of my personal favourites, is relegated to a 1 status and as such, her power and defence are both weak. He can barely take a hit from a 3-powered character without potentially losing all of her life bar and she can’t so much as make a dent in their power bars either. It feels like a massive mistake on the developers part to implement it in THIS way. It might be presenting more of a challenge, but the difficulty setting is there for that. It doesn’t make things more interesting either. It either draws out battles for longer because weak on weak characters end up lasting for ages while some battles are pointless when you have a 3-status character whipping the arse of a character who isn’t even a glass cannon. Glass water-pistol maybe. Let’s go with that.
In versus mode and pair match mode, these ratios are much better implemented. Pair match mode has you picking two characters to face two characters, all of whom are balanced. THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN ARCADE MODE.
In versus mode, you get to make your own decisions as to whether you have four blocks to play with or just one. It’s all well and good for handicap systems and playing against opponents who are either way too good or can barely work out what the X button does in a game, BUT IT ALL SHOULD HAVE BEEN AVAILABLE IN ARCADE MODE.
One thing the game ALMOST had going for it was the shop that Marvel Vs Capcom 2 had going for it. I say almost… it was totally underused. You can only realistically ‘buy’ 5 extra characters and everything else you buy is an ‘EX’ version of the original character, which roughly translates to an altered moveset. There’s nothing special about them as such. Marvel Vs Capcom 2 has characters on sale, artwork, colour pallettes and all that… it had plenty there as an incentive. It was there for the taking. It COULD have been really good. It SHOULD have been really good. There could have been half of the cast available from the off and the other could have been unlockable… but no. They steered away from it. They played safe.
And it shows.
Capcom played SUPER safe with this one. If anything, they probably had to given the nature of what it was introducing to the general public. You couldn’t just go all out expecting everyone to go crazy over this series. They had to see what it could do before they actually did.
Which is why the sequel is ten times better if not more.
In much the same way that Capcom used the Marvel crossover series to test the waters before they got it so bloody right with Marvel Vs Capcom, they did they same with the much more streamlined Capcom Vs SNK fighting system. It wasn’t the same as the MVC engine. It needed to be tested first.
And yes it worked. It was fine. it showcased the possibilities.
It just wasn’t the game it ought to be.
Also, this game showed how very few fighting franchises Capcom seemed to have to pinch fighters from. We literally got Street Fighter and ONE from Darkstalkers.
Which is why we got a sequel.
But seriously, Capcom, perhaps lay off the Street Fighter thing for a while? Try somethine else for a change?
Remember Rival Schools?
Remember Star Gladiator?
Remember Power Stone?
WE ALSO REMEMBER STREET FIGHTER V. THANKS FOR THAT BY THE WAY.