It's funny that this quick vacation to Mexico,
intended as a side quest of little importance to the South Town
storyline, turned out better than the first and second Art of
Fighting games combined.
Art of Fighting 3 is
just more fun to play than its predecessors thanks to a redesigned
game engine inspired in part by Virtua Fighter. In addition to
the typical Art of Fighting special moves (thankfully
including Ryo's devastating Machine Gun Punch), players can now
link a series of light punches together, hit fallen enemies, and
redirect attacks, catching their foe's fists or feet and throwing
them to the ground. Neither player takes damage in this
counter, but it's easier to do than similar moves in 3D fighting
games and will make your opponent think twice about getting too
All of this, plus the
reduced energy required for special moves, reduce the frustration of
the spirit meter and result in fast paced, fun battles... a big
surprise after the first two, rather clumsy Art of Fighting
games. Art of Fighting 3 is still somewhat limited in
comparison to Capcom's best fighting games or the Virtua Fighter
series, but it's nevertheless a very well done hybrid of those
two game engines. Even the fighting game pioneers at Capcom
haven't been especially successful in bringing these two genres
together... just look at Rival Schools!
The fantastic sound
and graphics are like a cherry, or perhaps more appropriately, a
salidito, on top of the Art of Fighting 3 experience. I've
always been blown away by the artwork in the series...
when I first saw the original Art of Fighting, I never thought in a
million years that the graphics could be improved, but SNK did just
that with Art of Fighting 3... those enormous characters look even
better when they're cleanly drawn and smoothly animated. There
are even large, animated win portraits, although they look a little
strange... you'll be left wondering whether or not they
were computer rendered. The backgrounds are excellent,
with fantastic detail and clever use of perspective, but still
not especially memorable thanks to the subtle colors and humble,
centralized setting. Somehow, fighting in the center of a
sleepy little Mexican town,
a weather-worn trainyard, or an alley blocks
away from a festive celebration just isn't very
exciting. Fortunately, the music helps get you back into the
action with hard hitting tunes that detour from the well
travelled road SNK's other fighting game soundtracks have
followed. You can definitely tell this is SNK music, but it
has an odd mixture of majesty and menace you won't hear in Fatal
Fury, The King of Fighters, or even previous Art of Fighting
Art of Fighting 3
isn't a complete masterpiece... some of the new characters,
especially the thirst-quenching, steroid-charged boss Wyler,
are pretty bland, and there's not much depth to the battles.
Even with its faults, you'll definitely agree that Ryo and Yuri
needed this vacation from the mediocrity of the past Art of Fighting
SNK has had three
epic series in their career--Samurai Shodown, King of Fighters, and
Fatal Fury. Each of those has had a "misstep" that threatened
to derail the whole series--Samurai Shodown III, KOF'95, and Real
Bout Fatal Fury (basically just FF3 with the new, messed-up control
scheme). And each of those has had a "rennaissance" of
sorts--Samurai Shodown IV, KOF'96, and Mark of the
At first blush, Mark of the Wolves seems to be
the Fatal Fury equivalent of Street Fighter III--it takes place
about a decade after the final demise of Geese Howard, Southtown
crime boss, and involves a new tournament.
Terry Bogard, the hero of the series, has taken
under his wing Rock Howard, the son of his father's killer. He
is raising and training Rock to be a fighter in the city of
Southtown Secundus (Second South). Oddly enough, a new King of
Fighters 1-on-1 tournament, billed "Maximum Mayhem," has been
started up by a mysterious man who is Geese's brother-in-law and
Meanwhile, there are other newcomers to the
series--Marco Rodriguez/Krushnood Butt, student of Ryo Sakazaki and
head of the Second South Kyokugenryuu dojo; Hokutomaru, Andy
Bogard's disciple; Kim Dong Hwan, Kim Kaphwan's light-hearted older
son; Kim Jae Hoon, Kim Kaphwan's other son who is more serious;
Freeman, the enigmatic psychotic killer who has carved a path of
destruction through Second South; Hotaru Futaba, the resident "cute
girl" of the series, looking for her brother; Gato, the Kung-Fu
master with a mysterious past; Griffon Mask/Tizoc, the Mexican
wrestler with a strong sense of honor and fair play; and Kevin Ryan,
Second South cop who is investigating the deaths of countless fellow
officers. Also, there are the masterminds of the
tournament--Grant, the "Martyr of Might," a mysterious figure who
fights with "Dark Karate"; and Kain R. Heinlein, Rock's uncle
(mother's brother) who fights with purple flames. When you
fight him, after you beat him in one round, his entire bar is in
"T.O.P." mode, and his attacks ALL DO DOUBLE DAMAGE.
The game has three new features--Just Defense,
T.O.P., and Breaking. Just Defense is a perfectly-timed block
that adds some health, doesn't count against you in terms of guard
breaks, and allows you to cancel into a counter attack. T.O.P.
(Tactical Offense Position) involves a selection of a third of your
life bar, and when your bar is in that section, your attacks do more
damage, you slowly recover health, and you can do a special attack
by pressing CD. And Breaking is a method of ending a move
prematurely by pressing AB.
The game is graphically and musically
spectacular. The characters are animated beautifully,
including the blurs on certain motions with Marco Rodriguez's
fireball. The controls are nice and tight; you can do whatever
move you desire at a given time. And the game involves a great
deal of replay if you want to see the endings (and you will),
because you have to be very good (average grade of AAA on a scale
from C, B, A, AA, AAA, S, SS, SSS, Miracle) to get to the final boss
in the first place.
In all, I give this game a 10.
K' and Maxima are on the run from NESTS after
the KOF'99 tournament. A new plan is introduced by NESTS to take
over the world. The Ikari Warriors have teamed up with a mysterious
contact named Ling to lure K', Maxima, and possibly NESTS, into the
open with a new KOF tournament. But there's more to this story than
just what you see...
KOF2000 was one of the last games released by
SNK proper. It was a followup to the different take on the series
introduced with KOF'99--strikers added to the mix. One of the new
features in the game, in fact, are Another Strikers. An "evolution"
of the DC version of KOF'99's EX strikers, Another Strikers allow
you to choose whether you want the "fourth wheel" to be the striker
or an alternate. Many of the alternate characters come from other
SNK games, such as Kaede from Last Blade, Duke from Burning Fight,
or Kim Sue Il from Kizuna Encounter.
The new gameplay features include the ability to
do SDM's at will, the ability to use strikers to taunt after an
attack, and the ability to regain striker "bombs" by taunting.
However, SDM's cost all three stocks, only certain supers have SDM
versions, and it removes the power gauge entirely for some time.
Also, "taunt" striker attacks cost one stock, as does taunting to
regain striker bombs. So, you'll have to be careful here.
The new characters in this game are Vanessa, the
sexy boxing secret agent; Seth, the new counter monster of the game;
Lin, the Chinese Hizoku ninja with poison flowing through his veins;
Hinako, the demure teenage Sumo girl (who's surprisingly not
Sumo-like in appearance); and Ramon, the Mexican luchador who bounds
around with kicks and suplexes for the whole family. Also added are
sub-boss/secret character/playable character if you have the home
version Kula, the Anti-K' who uses ice in her attacks, and the boss
Zero, who has a cheap bladed cloak and a cheap full-screen super and
who in short is very, very cheap.
Graphics are up to the KOF standard with
everything you'd come to expect. Sound is great with music that
sticks in your head and voices that bring the pain. Control is
spot-on (as if anyone would expect any less), and the gameplay is
good, if a little buggy (I'm told there are infinites for all; I've
never researched them, as I may be tempted to use them someday X_X).
However, it doesn't really add much of substance to the previous
installment, so I'm forced to give it a 7. The cart is probably
running about $199 now, so if you have a Neo, pick it up.
One of the saddest game stories of 2001 was the
demise of SNK. The company had been in dire straits for the prior
year or so, starting with their acquisition by Aruze and the
subsequent shutdown of their non-Japanese markets. Knowing that
their days could very well be numbered, they started farming out
some of their projects, including KOF, to outside companies. The
task of the next KOF game came to an obscure Korean company called
The hardcore KOF fans were panicking left,
right, up, down, and sideways over this news--could another company
pack in the magic that SNK did, or for that matter, even bring the
series back from the (said to be) disappointing 2000 installment?
That question will be answered now.
In KOF 2001, there's another worldwide KOF
tournament. There are some interesting twists in this tournament. No
longer are you limited to the 3-on-3 fights that have been the
staple of KOF games since '94. Now, you can choose how many
characters you want active and how many you want as "strikers,"
helper characters called out at your whim. This isn't just a simple
handicapping method--the number of active fighters in your team will
affect your defensive abilities (fewer fighters --> less damage),
your maximum number of supers (4 active fighters = 1 super, 3 active
= 2 supers, etc.), and the length of the super meter (fewer
fighters, shorter meter).
As for the characters, there are 40 characters
in all, which makes for 10 teams. The teams range from Southtown's
classic Fatal Fury heroes to fighting women to the Ikari Warriors to
the N.E.S.T.S. Cartel's specially-arranged team of superhumans.
There are some returning faces from KOF games past--Heidern, the
Ikari Warriors' grim taskmaster; Xiangfei, the spunky waitress girl
with the 100+ hit supers; and Daimon, the silent Judo king. Also,
there are new faces in the crowd--May Lee, the aspiring Tae Kwon Do
superheroine; Foxy, the fencing guardian of Kula from KOF2000;
Angel, the new "fan service" fighter and homage to the many Mexican
KOF fans, and K9999, the ruthless maniac in the NESTS team who looks
and sounds like Tetsuo from Akira, right down to the mutated
The gameplay is for the most part just as you
remember it from prior installments, so I'll only mention the
notable changes here:
-Certain attacks can knock an opponent into the
wall, allowing you to get another hit.
-SDM's now only cost 2
stocks instead of 3.
-Super Cancels are possible.
Counter modes no longer exist.
-Different joystick motions
(F+BC, B+BC) will summon different designated strikers.
-Strikers now cost 1 power stock to use.
The graphics are excellent, as usual. The
character designs are an acquired taste; the new select screens are
certainly... surreal O_o''. The effects seem as nifty as ever, from
the gouts of flame from Kyo and Iori's attacks to the flick of
Heidern's arm as he attempts a Storm Bringer.
The sound is very good, also. The music seems to
be mostly techno, not really differentiating one track from another,
but the voices are as spot-on as usual.
The controls are excellent, which is a must in
this installment, as many characters don't do the normal double
fireball or pendulum motions for their supers; Angel does a strange
b, f, d, df motion for her supers, and K9999 has the dreaded
"pretzel" motion made famous by Geese Howard.
But does it play well? The answer, in my
opinion, is yes. The new features add to the devastation that you
can rain down on your foes, and new, complex characters such as
Angel (master her "chain circle" and the opponents will pretty much
gift-wrap your victory and say "you're welcome.") assure that there
will be many players honing their skills to a fine knife's edge. The
bosses are up to the SNK standard... hard and ruthless. Igniz, the
last boss, has an SDM that takes off 80% of your life! 80%!! The
sub-boss, Original Zero, plays like his predecessor, but has three
strikers--a black lion; Ron, a ninja from the Chinese Hizoku clan
from which Lin hails; and (Original?) Krizalid... yes, the Irish
Tornado is back once again as a striker :P. With these bosses,
you'll be cursing the game with your dying breath unless you can
find their weakness. (Like I'm gonna tell you, though...
Anyway, long story short, the game is as good as
you've come to expect, if not better, with certain refinements that
some people will like and others hate. Me personally, I like it. I
give it an 8.
Since John's already talked about both of these
games, I'll approach my own reviews from a different tack.
Here's a few notes I made while playing King of Fighters 2001 and
* It's like history
is repeating itself with both of these games. KOF 2001 reminds
me a lot of King of Fighters '97, since it has a stronger focus on
the tournament rather than some villain's motivation for holding
it. You see a lot of cheering spectators in the background,
and the introductions for each of the rounds reminds me a lot of
King of Fighters '97, too. Not that this bothers me or
anything... I have fond memories of KOF '97 and anything that can
revive them is all right in my book.
* KOF 2002, on
the other hand, goes the same route as the disappointing King of
Fighters 1998, throwing the storyline out the door and offering a
dream team of characters from previous King of Fighters games.
The odd thing is, KOF 2002 isn't disappointing the way its
counterpart from the nineties was. It's hard to say why I feel
this way... maybe I'll figure it out later.
* So what's new in
these games? Well, KOF 2001 has completely changed the striker
system... and KOF 2002 has completely removed it. That doesn't
make a lot of sense to me, because the striker system Eolith came up
with is brilliant, and could have been even better in the
sequel. Here's how it works... you select four different
characters as always, but you then choose which of them fights
directly and which are used for support. You can put all your
characters in the ring, but they become more prone to damage, and
your power meter suffers as well. It's wise to select at least
one striker, and you can make up to three of your characters
strikers if you really wanted. That puts a lot of pressure on
the remaining fighter, but he or she will get to store up a lot of
super moves and has plenty of help on the sidelines.
* As stated above,
KOF 2002 doesn't have a striker system. It doesn't have a lot
of things, but surprisingly, this
simplicity doesn't spoil the game. It's actually
MORE fun, because you'll spend more time fighting and less
time trying to adapt to strange, and sometimes ill-conceived,
new features. If you liked all the customization options in
KOF 2001, you probably aren't going to appreciate the fact that
they've all been stripped from KOF 2002, but personally, I didn't
miss them as much as I thought I would.
* Both games
compare pretty favorably to SNK's own King of Fighters titles, but
Eolith didn't replicate the style perfectly. First of all, the
graphics, while still pretty good, aren't up to the same standards
as those created by SNK. The backgrounds are dull and grainy,
especially in KOF 2002 where you'll be seeing a lot of browns and
greys. They're more vibrant and have more animation in KOF
2001, but that game comes up short in other areas. Remember
the character portraits they'd show after every match? Well,
they look really weird in KOF 2001. It was like Eolith tried
to emulate the art style used in Garou: Mark of the Wolves, but went
a little overboard exaggerating perspective and the characters'
features. Goro was never gonna get on the cover of GQ before,
but now, he's just downright grotesque... it looks like he stopped a
Mack truck with his face. Luckily, this, er, distinctive style
of artwork is toned down in KOF 2002.
* How do the
games sound? Well, about the same as the old ones, if you're
referring to the characters. The cast sounds just as good as
it did when SNK was calling the shots, and the quality of the
digitization is as crisp and clear as it's always been.
However, the music could definitely stand to be improved. KOF
2001 contains a lot of unimaginative techno tracks (I could
have sworn I heard the beat in the continue screen on The Powerpuff
Girls...), and in KOF 2002, the quality of the playback is pretty
poor... frankly, I thought the music in King of Fighters EX 2 on the
Game Boy Advance was just as good.
* There's a pretty
good selection of characters in both games... I'm partial to the
roster in KOF 2001, although KOF 2002 brings back a lot of the
fighters that disappeared at the turn of the century. If you
loved the New Face team, well, they're back. Personally, I was
never that fond of them, but I was excited to see that Mr.
Mayhem himself, Ryuji Yamazaki, has made a comeback after being left
out of the past three games. It's a relief to know that Eolith
was prepared to make up for SNK's past mistakes by including him
* Sadly, Bao only
makes a cameo in KOF 2002, but that's forgivable since I seem to be
the only person on Earth who actually liked him (hey, he's better
than the farting fogey the Psycho Soldier team's been stuck with
since the series debuted...). As for the newer characters,
they're kind of difficult to use, particularly May Lee and
Angel. On the plus side, they're more innovative than what
you'd typically get from Capcom or other fighting game
* The gameplay's
great, as you'd expect from any King of Fighters game. Some of
the super moves are difficult to do (and on top of that, they're
usually blocked by the computer... grr...) but past that you'll find
that the control is very reliable. Nothing more to say here,
* There are subtle
hints throughout KOF 2002 that it could be the last game in the
series. That'd be a shame, because it makes no attempt to
advance or wrap up the series' long-running
storyline. There's not even much of an ending... Rugal is
blown to bits (again) and you get to watch funny outtakes during the
credits. You never really find out why or how Rugal was
resurrected... it was like the designers included him to further
increase the nostalgia you'd receive from playing this throwback to
the older King of Fighters games. KOF 2001 answers a lot more
questions in its ending, though. If you wondered about the
ultimate fate of the NESTS cartel that created K Prime and his
friends, you'll discover it here.
* Neo-Geo games
aren't cheap, so you're probably wondering which of the two releases
you should buy (if you haven't already downloaded them from the
Internet, that is). I think the best way to decide is to think
back to when you were playing King of Fighters '97 and '98.
Which of those two games did you like best? If you
preferred the extensive character selection in KOF
'98, KOF 2002 is the perfect companion to it.
However, if a concrete storyline and customization options are
more important to you, KOF 2001 will go very well with your copy of
* Did I say "KOF"
enough times in this review?
The game Savage Reign was an obscure Neo-Geo
game that allowed players to dodge and climb onto poles. The
game had an even more obscure sequel called Kizuna Encounter: Super
The game involves a tournament organized by King
Lion, the crime boss with aspirations to conquer all of
"Jipang." The tournament is a tag team tournament. This
game was impressive because it was out at around the same time as
X-Men vs. Street Fighter in 1996.
The game has several returners from Savage
Reign--Hayate, the boomerang karate fighter; Eagle, the US wrestler
with the axe; Joker, the funny-man; Gordon, the fat police officer;
Gozu and Mezu, the saboteur ninjas who have mastered fire and water;
Chung, an old fighter with a magical cane and a hat from the
"Legendary Wolf" (wonder who that is? ;) ; and King Lion, the
organizer of the tournament.
Two characters are introduced to the
series--Rosa, a sword-wielding woman with a hidden agenda; and Kim
Sue Il, a Taekwondo cop who looks more than a little
The game involves a "tag zone" for each
side. When you're in the tag zone, you can press D to tag your
partner in, and the resting player will recover a bit. You can
also do a team-up move when your active player is desperate (first
life bar is gone) by doing a reverse dragon punch motion and hitting
A when you stand in the tag zone.
The graphics are very good for a 1996 game,
almost to the quality of the graphics in Real Bout Special/2.
Even the attention to detail is great--Kim Sue Il's Hou'ou Kyaku
even has embers coming down. The music is a bit forgettable,
but the voices are pretty good. The control, meanwhile, is
tight, but is at times hit-or-miss.
One of the best-known series put out by SNK
was Samurai Shodown. The game provided everything: weapons, animals,
lovingly-detailed characters, blood flowing like wine, and an
innovative "rage meter" that would increase as you got hit, allowing
for more powerful strikes. The peak of the series, as is the peak of
most series, was the second game: Samurai Shodown II, or as it is
known in Japan, Shin Samurai Spirits ("shin" meaning "new"). The
game had many additions to the already good first Samurai Shodown
game, including a new super move that would temporarily disarm your
opponent, with varying results (some characters could get along fine
without a weapon, while others would be like fish in a barrel
waiting to be shot), and a "doll move" that served as a glorified
taunt. Also, the referee in the background is a secret character
now, with a massive array of projectile attacks.
Here's another doozy for the
JessCREATIONS*,Co. "Why was this made" files... SNK's mediocre
closer to their epic series of sword-based fuedal fighters,
appropriately titled Samurai Shodown 3. Well, maybe calling this
Samurai Shodown isn't as appropriate as one would think... sure, it
plays like the last two games, and it looks like the last two games,
but it sure as hell isn't as inspired as the last two SamShos. A lot
of the characters which had practically MADE the series have been
removed entirely and were needlessly replaced with awkward
imitations, and those that weren't so lucky have had both their
appearances and fighting techniques altered (usually not for the
better, as you may have surmised by now...). And as innovative as
this may be, the ability to select a good or evil character is just
totally worthless... it simply changes your fighter's color and
switches on or off certain special moves. Of course, this prompts
the reaction "Why not just give every character all of their
available attacks from the onset?", but this wasn't exactly the
first thing to pop into my mind upon discovering that the more
sinister incarnation of Galford (my favorite character from the
first two SamShos) must go it alone without the aid of his wolf
Poppy... stuffing my size 10 1/2 Taiwanese sneakers squarely into
the Neo Messiah's ass would be more like it. After having to suffer
through Samurai Shodown 3's gross lack of innovation, subpar
audiovisuals, and lame-oid new cast of characters, the LAST thing I
need is to discover that I've wasted fifty cents on an 'evil'
version of Galford that is in fact 15 times worse than the original
model. Oh, yeah... and the AI is, as Ross Perot would say, "just
sad". You can literally make it past the first cinema scene by using
just one button (the hard slash), and the characters are seriously
unbalanced... Gen-an's replacement (Basara, the Lord Raptor
look-alike with the mace star thingee) is nearly impossible to
defeat, whereas Nakoruru's kid sister is an incredible pushover by
any definition of the term... her ice attacks are predictable and
backgrounds are excellent in this one, with such features as
destroyable objects (like barrels and grass) and changes from round
to round. If you look closely in Gen-An's background, you'll even
see that he has some Alien boiling for after the match. As for the
gameplay, it's dead-on. It's not particularly combo-happy, but in a
game where one well-aimed slash can take off a fourth to a third of
an opponent's health, combination attacks don't really matter that
much. This isn't fast and furious fighting--it's fairly deliberate,
preventing you from just rushing in to attack your opponent,
especially since being blocked will stagger you slightly, leaving
you open to attack. It's well-balanced between powerful attacks and
timing. The music is excellent, but considering that this is Samurai
Shodown we're talking about, that's to be expected. It has
everything from flutes to drums to electric guitars (yes, I said
electric guitars; it's an interesting anachronism).
of anachronisms, there are some "creative liberties" taken with
Western History--apparently, not only Texas, but California was
part of the US in the late 18th century, and Prussia was still a
feudal state (my understanding of history may not be the best--it
was never my favorite subject--but I'm pretty sure that feudalism
went out some time after the Rennaissance). But let's face it, if
creative rewrites of history are the worst thing you can find about
a game, is a 10 that unbelievable? Not to me. This is pretty much
the defining game of the Samurai Shodown series, and possibly one of
the most innovative 2-D fighters ever.
A few more notes:
This is, among other things, the game that turned Ukyo from a rival
to Haohmaru into a haiku-writing wandering swordsman suffering from
tuberculosis. Also, even the Japanese dialogue for Galford has some
decent Engrish, including "There's a heaven above you, baby." and
"Everyone need love! Do you know that it is true?" For a game this
good, the unintentional hilarity generated by SNK's (on-)crack
translation team is the icing on the cake. It's the sort of thing
that has separated films like Plan 9 from Outer Space from other,
similarly cheesy '50s movies, and it does well in separating SNK's
games from other fighters.
I'd go on, but I won't. Suffice it to say that
SamSho3 offers players far less than its two predecessors had, and
seems contrived, almost as if the programmers ran out of ideas in
mid-design and shuttled it off partially finished with the loose
ends stapled together. It's not nearly as bad as Gowkaizer, and
could actually prove to be a lot of fun for anyone who's easily
entertained or hasn't played a tourney fighting game in the last
five years, but if you don't fall within either category, it'd be in
your best interests to sidestep SS3 and preserve your current
opinion of the series.
Pros: Not quite as bad as
Cons: Considering how bad I'd heard it was, that's not
saying too much.
Shinoken. The name sends shivers
down the spine of the discriminating fighting game
fan. Because of its seemingly inscrutable story, its odd
style of artwork (it's supposed to be done in the same way as Killer
Instinct) and its overall disappointment factor, the game has
not been well-received.
I decided to give this game a
chance. I've crawled into the belly of the beast before...
I've rented Rise of the Robots, I've bought Dragon Ball: Final Bout,
I've even played Shadow: War of Succession (sort of like Way of the
Warrior, except more obscure) and suffered no serious
dysfunctions. Compared to this, Shinoken should be a breeze to
play and review.
Well, I was... right, really. I
can't say I was disappointed, mainly because I had heard that this
game was one of the worst fighting games ever. The graphics
aren't really that impressive. And they weren't that
impressive in 1996, either. But the animation is actually
The music is actually pretty good, too,
with a couple of the tunes finding their way into regular rotation
in my head. One of the characters, Son Gokuu, has stage music
that sounds like it came from the old Dragon Ball series.
However, his hair remains its normal color. The controls are okay; they generally work pretty well, but
it's typical 1996 Neo-Geo fare... you've got to input insane joysticks motions to activate the super attacks.
However, there's an interesting system in this game; each character
has two dominant elements out of Lightning, Wind, Fire and
Water. When you charge up with one element or the other,
certain moves are enhanced, and the symbols for the super keep
charging up (up to three at a time) until the meter runs
The characters are somewhat of a mixed
bag. On the one hand, there are the gimmicky characters like
Chichi/Nene, a pair of twins who have different moves depending on
who's dominant; and Syuten-Dozi, an ogre-like guy who charges his
chi by drinking sake. On the other hand, you have more
interesting fighters like Shina, a mermaid girl who has one of the
most innovative counters in any fighting game ever (let's just say
it involves a mirror and timing); and Egret, an angel of death whose
attacks involve giving you an out-of-body experience and using his
scythe to "zone" you.
Also, much of the game involves
dashing and attacking in mid-air, as well as attacking out of mid
air or rolling from a throw. But with the controls being
occasionally hit-or-miss, it's tough to get the timing down to
perform many of these moves.
This game is better than what I'd feared,
but still not that much to get excited about. With that,
I'm putting it on low average- 5/10. And one final note...
I've heard rumors of Aruze having yakuza ties,
but I think Saurus might have had some very powerful friends to get
this game released as it was.
I was a late-comer to
one-on-one fighting games... I didn't really start enjoying them
until the mid 1990's, when the exceptional Darkstalkers series
debuted. It was hard for me to understand years later why the
gaming press had become so hostile toward the genre, printing
reviews of tournament fighting games that read more like page-long
complaints. Maybe they weren't enjoying the
games anymore, but I certainly was! However, after
playing the latest collaborative effort between Capcom and SNK, I
can begin to see their point of view.
There's nothing wrong
with SNK vs. Capcom: SVC Chaos. It's a competant effort, with
crisp graphics, solid gameplay, and a soundtrack that lends urgency
to the already intense fights. Unfortunately, it only succeeds
as a fighting game... it never excels. SVC
Chaos doesn't make the same strong impression that Capcom had
with its own contribution to the South Town/Street Fighter
crossover, Capcom vs. SNK 2. In fact, SVC Chaos is only
marginally better than the first Capcom vs. SNK, which many gamers
considered a disappointment.
You could easily blame
SNK vs. Capcom's shortcomings on the fact that it's running on SNK's
outdated Neo-Geo hardware. That's fair criticism, because
the Neo-Geo, as hard as it tries, just can't reproduce the gorgeous
polygonal backgrounds or the crisp CD-quality sound that you'll find
on the Dreamcast. It also lacks the six button control panel
that lets players more precisely control the power
and speed of their attacks, and the memory necessary to handle
frantic tag-team battles.
However, the Neo-Geo
isn't solely to blame for SNK vs. Capcom's inadequacies. The
sad fact is, the game just isn't very imaginatively designed.
The gameplay hearkens back to the early days of tournament fighting
games, where fights were always against a single opponent
and there was little in the way of innovation. The only thing
that really distinguishes SVC Chaos from those games is the super
move system, which cleverly combines ideas from both the Street
Fighter and King of Fighters series. The super meter has three
levels, but once you fill the meter completely, your character
shifts into overdrive, enhancing their abilities until time runs
out. Also, there's an especially strong Exceed attack which
can be performed when your energy is low... but unlike the
desperation attacks in Fatal Fury or the earlier King of Fighters
games, it can only be used once per fight.
Another point in the
game's favor is its charismatic dialogue, as well as the sly
references made to Capcom and SNK's other games. Before each
fight begins, the two characters will have a brief
conversation. The dialogue varies depending on the selected
character and his opponent, so the two fighters actually seem to
interact. Some of the comments made are quite memorable
too, particularly the hilariously deluded statements made by
everyone's favorite karate chump, Dan Hibiki.
There's also a reward for
players who can finish the game without losing any rounds... after
defeating the last boss, they're taken to heaven (or hell, if they
didn't fight fairly) for one more battle against a character from
Capcom or SNK's past. It's a welcome surprise in a game
that's a little too predictable for its own good.
If you're looking for a
high-quality fighting game, SNK vs. Capcom: SVC Chaos will suit your
needs... but it won't go out of its way to impress you,
either. You'd probably be much more satisfied with Capcom vs.
SNK 2, or even the Neo-Geo Pocket classic Match of the
Millennium. They're packed with the innovation that SVC Chaos
is lacking, and they cost hundreds of dollars