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SNK vs Capcom Card Fighters DS Package Art
Card Battle
SNK Playmore
SNK Playmore

SNK vs Capcom Card Fighters DS

Most gamers have at least a passing familiarity with the SNK Vs. Capcom series; or, if not, they've probably at least heard the name before. Both companies inked a deal in 1999 to have a series of crossovers by franchise characters. While the most prominent games in the series are 2D fighters, SNK changed up the formula with its 1999 Neo Geo Pocket Color title SNK Vs. Capcom: Card Fighters' Clash. Offering a perfect medium to display oodles of fan-favorite game characters, both renowned and obscure, the title was fairly popular among its fan base; but the relatively low circulation of the system prevented it from becoming a mainstream success, especially in America. Eight years after the original's release, SNK Playmore brings the series to Nintendo DS in what will likely be the last crossover game between the two publishers.


The card portraits are the most important visual aspect of the game, and SNK Playmore had a team of diverse artists working on the cards, including Falcoon, who has worked on previous games in the series as well as several King of Fighters games. The fan service is in high swing, and in general, the art seems to be noticeably less cute than in the NGPC version, although it's still a far cry from realistic. Card clashes aren't animated directly, so a small flash, slice or series of bullet holes will represent the card battle.

The art in the rest of the game doesn't quite hold up in comparison to the cards, especially with the in-game character design, which uses the same five or six character sprites for more than thirty different people. The game grid has a futuristic feel and features smaller versions of the drawn cards, which can be selected and viewed on the top screen.


There are a few tunes that will be heard quite a bit when playing SNK Vs. Capcom Card Fighters DS. Fortunately, most of them are decent, if not good. The basic card battling theme is actually a bit catchy and players might find themselves humming along after a few battles. Whooshing and dragging sound effects accompany moving the cards or fighting with them. These can get tiresome, but as different cards have different accompanying attacks, the sounds are not always exactly the same.


SNK Vs. Capcom Card Fighters DS takes place in a world where card fighting is the most popular sport around. The game's protagonist and his friends are called to participate in a tournament held at Card Tower, where there are twenty floors of card battling action. Unhappily, however, the card tournament computer has mind-controlled the participants, and they can only be saved by being beaten in a card battle.

Of course, the story merely serves as an introduction to the card game. Card battles consist of character cards and action cards. Each character card has a value for hit points and battle power that its effectiveness in battle. Several character cards also have abilities which can be activated at set points during the game. Action and counter cards can be used before and during an opponent's attack as needed. Players must charge up their Force power by playing lower-ranking cards, which can eventually be used to play more powerful cards. Each of the eight character cards can be in play at any given time. The game is won by depleting an opponent's hit points by attacking when there are no defensive cards in play, or when either card fighter running out of cards.

The system doesn't appear to be broken, although it's certainly more complicated than it's predecessor's three-card grid. The rules make sense and are easy to figure out. The only downside is in enemy AI, which often makes glaring mistakes and ignores opportunities. Computer-controlled players are so inept that even boss characters can often be defeated in five turns or less. This often makes complicated strategies pointless, as battles will often be over before they can be put into use. A few maddening side quests also come into play, particularly characters that block off upper floors until they've been given a specific card or set of cards.

There is also a game-ending glitch present in the US build of the game. During the second play through of the Card Tower, talking to one of the participants will freeze the game irreversibly, halting progress. SNK Playmore has issued a recall and is now shipping new cartridges to replace the defective units.


Dual-card multiplayer is possibly the best way to experience the card battling, as human opponents will almost uniformly be smarter than the AI ones. Not including Wi-Fi support seems like a big oversight, as online card trading and battling could have been a big draw. Fortunately, every card can be acquired through the single player quest.


With mentally deficient in-game opponents and groan-inducing fetch-quests galore, the real draw of SNK Vs. Capcom Card Fighters DS is the collection aspect. Anyone who has a fondness for the game characters -- who come from such series as The King of Fighters, Darkstalkers, Mega Man, Ikari Warriors, Street Fighter, World Heroes, Samurai Shodown and Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney -- will enjoy seeing the montage of beloved characters in a new setting, and players who are strong fans of several of the various game series will be driven to collect every familiar face.

Conversely, those who aren't as well-acquainted with the gathered SNK and Capcom heroes probably won't be happy with the card game alone. While there is a degree of strategy and planning involved, players will almost certainly be able to manhandle the computer within a few hours of starting, which means that all but the most die-hard of SNK or Capcom devotees will grow weary of the structure. Clearly, this game is for the fans and not the uninitiated. Basically, what it boils down to is that if you're going to spend three hours looking for a Robert Garcia card, you'd at least want to know who he is.

final score 7.2/10

Staff Avatar Aaron Roberts
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