SNK vs Capcom: The Match of the Millennium (Switch) Review
The NEOGEO Pocket version of SNK vs Capcom has hit the Nintendo Store, at the price of £7.49. Whilst the NEOGEO had some amazing games, the console also struggled when it came to games that had complex gameplay mechanics, due to its limited 2 button layout and analog stick. SNK Vs Capcom: The Match of the Millennium initially released in 1999, a time when the Dreamcast, Nintendo 64, and PlayStation One were all battling it out to be the best home entertainment systems. The NEOGEO actually came out just a little before the Gameboy Advance, although never did quite as well, leading to the console end of life early due to lack of popularity. The question is, does a NEOGEO Pocket version of Street Fighter / Fatal Fury hold up to today's fighters, or does its simplicity cause it to drown in a sea of mediocre classic games.
The SNK vs Capcom series is one of the best fighting games series out there, due to its complex combo systems, a huge varied roster of characters, and fast-paced battling. Although it's sad to say that the NEOGEO entry of this series doesn't quite live up to the epic proportions set out in other titles. You see the problem is, the NEOGEO only has two buttons which are either a kick or a punch. Those familiar with either SNK games or Capcom fighters, know that the thing that makes these titles stand out, is the ability to mix up heavy, medium, and light blows to form combos. So when translating this play style to just 2 buttons, it makes it impossible to do decent combos, and feel good for landing them. Also, it takes away the feeling of becoming skilled at the game, as button mashing will be just as effective.
To this effect, the A.I never really feel challenging either. Once I got an opponent into a corner, I could quite literally (and quickly) spam the same move over and over, to keep my opponent down. No matter how far I pushed through the gameplay I could usually at least win one round per fight this way. Although to those who don't play fighters on a regular basis, don't let this put you off though. This is a really good starting point to train up someone new to the series, as it allows you to focus on hitboxes, instead of move types. But, for seasoned vets of the series, stay well away from this title, unless you're looking for a simple nostalgia hit.
For a NEOGEO game, when you put this game on a colour mode, it looks really nice. Even with its limited pixels, you can make out exactly who each character is, and even when the battles are moving somewhat quicker, you can always get a feel for where your character is, through its nice design. Although that is as far as it goes for the graphics, they do well at being a NEOGEO game and looking nice, but I would have loved the option to have some form of texture smoothing that we've seen in some other retro games, to smooth off the pixels.
One of my biggest gripes with this game is that it expects you to play it on the tiny NEOGEO Pocket screen, I mean yes you can zoom in (as you'll see in these screenshots) but that's as big as you can make it. I wouldn't have minded if I could have been able to stretch the screen, adjusting the aspect ratio, as I'm not a huge fan of having a border around my games.
The audio in this game was good for its day back in 1999, but the issue is, this game is handling some of the most memorable soundtracks in gaming and forcing them to sound like it is coming through the most basic of speakers. It doesn't do itself justice, or even use the Switches nicer speaker system to really enhance the music. None of the sound work has been improved, making for the sound effects to sound 'tinny' and become annoying very quickly. When bringing these games over to modern consoles, it feels lazy to have not touched up some of the basics such as sound and art style, as most emulators today and improve these things with the simple click of a button.
After playing SNK vs Capcom: The Match of the Millennium, I was quite surprised that it even had a storyline for each character. Although, to be honest, the story quality is what you'd expect to find in some of the earliest Street Fighter games with a small number of cutscenes backed up with an ending. The storylines are very simple and cheesy, and most interestingly give very little (if not none) context to why Capcom and SNK have merged together. It all just feels a little forced and boring. There isn't much more to say than that! The story is very weak and limited and does nothing that sets it apart from the amazing other fighters we've seen in its place. In fact, it seems like this game was simply made to just sell copies and spark nostalgia, as opposed to giving players genuine enjoyment.
In summary, I don't understand why this game has come to the Nintendo Switch. There are so many other fighting game options at a much more reasonable cost. SNK vs Capcom: The Match of the Millennium is a much weaker fighting game experience than most other fighter entries available on the Nintendo Switch, bringing nothing new to the genre. The game's price point, at £7.49 seems excessive, especially considering how basic this title is. I'd say if you could pick this up for anything around the £1 - 50p mark then you're getting a better cost to gameplay ratio, as this game feels like something you would play on mobile. To be clear, this title is a good NEOGEO game, but ultimately it's a poor game when stacked up against other fighters and when considering the work gone into getting this to run on the Switch hardware.