SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighters Clash
Posted at 12:05 on 17th August 2009 - permalink

This article is part of the NeoGeo Pocket Color: 10th Anniversary retrospective.

Card Fighters Clash Card Fighters Clash

To eke out some more mileage from the Capcom license, SNK devised Card Fighters Clash, a virtual CCG based around collecting, trading and battling with charmingly-illustrated cards based on characters from SNK and Capcom’s back catalogues. They were probably as surprised as anyone when it turned out to be the best game on the system.

Positioned as the NGPC’s answer to Pok√©mon, it was released in two versions (Capcom and SNK, natch), each of which was weighted to make their respective company’s cards appear more frequently, but was in all other respects identical.

The single player game involves a lightweight RPG framework allowing the player to gradually gain access to rarer and more powerful cards and tougher AI opponents. This is set (somewhat prosaically) in ‘real world’ amusement centres around Japan. Capcom and SNK games are constantly referenced (as fiction), and there are even cameo appearances by some of their staff. (At one point you pay a visit to Shinji Mikami, who naturally lives in the Resident Evil mansion along with some card-battling zombies.)

In total there are 300 cards to collect, covering the roster of virtually every contemporary SNK or Capcom fighting game, as well as characters from Mega Man, Metal Slug, Ghosts ‘n Goblins, Ikari Warriors, Resident Evil and other, more obscure games. A few cards can only be acquired by trading with another player via system link. Completing the game’s fixed goals is a substantial time investment, and if it gets its hooks into you (note: it will), there’s no upper limit to the amount of diversion on offer.

Card Fighters Clash is one of the most addictive games I’ve ever played. It offers the same undemanding drip-feed of endorphins as the likes of Puzzle Quest and Peggle, but augments this with a layer of genuine strategic depth. As with ‘real’ CCGs like Magic: The Gathering, it’s possible to construct multiple decks to suit different strategies. Admittedly, there are a few overpowered cards, but as you’re at the mercy of the hand you’re dealt, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get the chance to use them. There are also plenty of ‘lesser’ cards with special abilities that can upset the most carefully laid plans.

There was a sequel (more a ‘version 2.0’) released in Japan, for which an unofficial translation is available online. This includes new artwork and a selection of new cards, but frankly SNK managed to nail the design so well with the first version that these extras are just window dressing. My only reasons for not giving Card Fighters a 10 are that 1) the AI is a bit stupid once you figure out its major blind spot, and 2) I played it so much when it came out that it nearly cost me my degree.

Score: 9/10

Developer/Publisher: SNK

Supercede-o-factor: There has since been a Card Fighters game on the DS, but by all accounts it was a bit of a disaster, being a continuation of the franchise in name only. As a simulation of a card game, Card Fighters doesn’t suffer from the absence of flashy graphics, and the game itself has proven to be timeless. We can safely conclude that it hasn’t been superceded and is still totally worth tracking down.

Next: Metal Slug 2nd Mission


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