When you think about SNK vs Capcom, you’re usually thinking about the series of crossover fighting games between the two. But before those came a card game: SNK vs Capcom: Card Fighters Clash. Released on the NeoGeo Pocket Color back in 1999, the game was the first crossover between the two powerhouses of the fighting game genre. A port of the game was released for the Nintendo Switch on January 12th 2022.
Back when the game was first released, it was split into two separate versions, a Capcom version and an SNK version. While for the most part both versions are the same, some of the games 300 cards are exclusive to a specific version, similar to how Pokemon games are split into two versions.
Thankfully, both versions of the game are combined into one package here, with the option to switch between them at will so no need to hope you know someone with the opposite version if you want to collect everything. Unfortunately, this comes at the expense of online multiplayer which is a real shame as card games are at their best with actual people as opponents.
The game itself is an RPG but the story of the game is very light, you enter a competition and travel through the games areas to collect coins to prove you’re the best card battler the world has ever seen. You choose between 4 characters depending on the version of the game you chose. Cap and Comet in the Capcom version and Shin and Kei in the SNK version, in some top tier naming conventions. The story mainly serves as a reason to battle everyone you come across rather than the main attraction of the game. The battle system itself is easy to pick up yet has a surprising level of depth. In its simplest form, you can have 3 cards on the field at a time which each have a BP value.
Each card can attack or counter an enemy attack, comparing their BP values. If there is no counter, the attacker directly attacks the player. The main goal is to reduce your opponents HP to 0. While the basic combat is fairly simple, the SP system and abilities give the gameplay more depth. The game features a great tutorial that explains these systems and if you need a refresher, there is a glossary that can be accessed mid battle. The gameplay loop of winning battles, earning new cards and improving your deck is very satisfying and putting together a deck of your favorite characters is a great feeling. Overall, the gameplay is fantastic with a great battle system that makes you want to collect cards of all your favorite characters to make your perfect deck.
The game runs on a very customizable NeoGeo Pocket Color emulator that looks exactly like the handheld, complete with a choice of skins for you to choose from. I found the screen to be slightly too small by default but this is easily fixed as it lets you zoom in. The visuals of the game are about what you’d expect from a late 90s handheld console, but where the game really shines is in its card art.
The art on each card is phenomenal and shows all your favorite characters in a colorful and vibrant style and is arguably the highlight of the game. The games music also has the feel of older games made around the time, with the battle theme being especially catchy. Overall I feel the games presentation is fantastic and the game has a lot of charm, particularly in the card art.
Overall, I enjoyed my time with SNK vs Capcom: Card Fighters Clash and wholeheartedly recommend it to fans of SNK and Capcom or even just card game fans as a whole. The game mixes great gameplay with fantastic fanservice and art to make for a great game and I hope the sequels get the same treatment later down the line.
A fantastic game that has aged well and is definitely worth playing for fans of Capcom or SNK.