Coming out of nowhere and releasing on the Nintendo Switch’s eShop, SNK Vs Capcom: Card Fighters’ Clash is a retro card game featuring the SNK and Capcom characters from each company’s various franchises, like Street Fighter, Mega Man, The King of Fighters, Metal Slug and many, many more. Originally released as two separate games, a Capcom and an SNK version, in 1999 for the NeoGeo Pocket Color, the new Switch release has combined the two versio of the game, giving you access to over 300 cards for you to collect and craft your deck.
After picking your main character and going through the tutorial, you’re left to challenge various players across six differently themed locations to collect ‘SC Coins’ and to gain entry to the ‘Card Clash Tournament’ and take on the current champion. It’s a nice, simple setup to the gameplay loop of visiting a location, challenging the various players there and then taking on the boss before moving on. Sometimes you’ll find your deck isn’t strong enough, and you’ll have to grind the easier opponents for new cards or visit the various in-game traders.
The actual rules and mechanics of the card battles are simple and easy to understand as well. You take turns to place character cards on the field, with a maximum of three in play at a time, and you try to attack the opponent’s hit points (similar to Yu-Gi-Oh) whilst your opponent can choose to counter with his own characters to defend themselves. Placing character cards on the field gives you a certain amount of SP per card, which can be used to play action cards, which act as spells, or you can have two characters on the field team up for a Unite Attack, where they combine their attack strength or BP for a big damage, multi-hitting attack. Character cards can also have their own special abilities that can be activated when they are adding to the field or during your turn.
It’s the type of card game that at the start is very simple to understand, but as you begin to collect rarer and more powerful cards, some of the more nuanced game mechanics start coming into play. The opponents you face along your journey to be the Card Clash Champion will slowly introduce you to these ideas as well, with opponents using discard decks, making you run out of cards quicker, combo decks that make use of building SP, and Unite Attacks and Aggro decks full of high BP characters who are difficult to clear off the field. It’s a very addictive battle system that always makes you think, “Just one more game,” and after my time with the game, the only thing I thought was missing was online multiplayer, but considering the Switch release is a port of the original game, it’s completely understandable why it’s not here. Local multiplayer with a friend using one of your decks has been added, however, which is a great feature for the hardcore TCG groups and clubs out there, but it might not be a feature many others will ever use. If Capcom and SNK ever decide to collaborate again in the future, perhaps they could consider giving us an online multiplayer version of Card Fighters.
As most players will probably be playing solo, it’s good to know the single-player campaign offers a lot of challenge for first time players whilst remaining pretty fair and balanced. Losses never feel like robberies or like you’ve been cheated by the CPU, rather it might be down to a mistake in your strategy or your deck just not being strong enough, which you can quickly fix by grinding out new cards from weaker opponents. Deck creation is simple too, and once you’ve collected enough cards, you can soon craft your own deck however you choose. The card battle mechanics make it so you can craft a deck full of your favourite characters from either company and still be able to compete or go for a more complex deck with a specific game plan. I ended with a deck full of SNK and Capcom grapplers and brute forced my way past opponents with the likes of R. Mika, Shermie and Zangief.
One thing they should never change is the game’s brilliant art style for the cards; each character has been redesigned in a charming “chibi” style that, even with the retro visuals, are full of personality and detail. The card art stands in contrast to the rest of the game, which has a more classic, portable RPG look, and considering the number of cards available to collect, everyone’s favourite characters from each company will probably be here waiting to be found. The art style for the cards really has stood the test of time, looking as good today as, if not better than, the original released more than 20 years ago, which is an amazing feat when you realise it’s all based on the 16-bit technology of the NeoGeo Pocket Color. So, for the developers to have squeezed out the level of detail and charisma in the character cards is an impressive feat considering the technology limits at the time.
SNK Vs Capcom: Card Fighters’ Clash costs under £8 and offers hours of retro, card battling fun with heaps of fanservice too; it’s definitely more than worth your time and money, especially if you’re a fan of card games or even just a fan of SNK/Capcom’s other games. There are two games in one offering slightly different experiences, and the CPU opponents are a good challenge for you to try and figure out. There will be a lot of potential players out there who may not have had the opportunity or hardware to experience the original Card Fighters, so the Switch version is a great opportunity to finally experience one of the best collaborations between SNK and Capcom.
Publisher: Code Mystics
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 12th January 2022
Gaming Respawn’s copy of SNK Vs Capcom: Card Fighters’ Clash was provided by the publisher.