SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighters' Clash
Originally released in 1999, SNK vs Capcom: Card Fighters' Clash was one of many games released during the friendly rivalry between the two fighting game giants. Beginning with Capcom vs SNK, the two companies had shared a back-and-forth relationship, pitting their characters against the other. While Capcom's releases were meant with the arcade in mind, SNK capitalized more on the handheld market, with SNK vs Capcom: Match Of The Millenium being one of its premiere titles. Another title released on the handheld device was a game that took the fighting outside of the streets and onto the tables of various virtual game stores. SNk vs Capcom: Card Fighters' Clash was the outlier, but it would become a fan favorite.
At the time, the Trading Card Game genre was on the rise, with Magic The Gathering and Pokemon selling millions of copies alone. This was a few years before Yu-Gi-Oh! became an international phenomenon, so Card Fighters' Clash was slightly ahead of its time. Even in 1999, companies like SNK knew that developing a basic and relatively easy-to-follow card game is enough to invest in its player base. Most who were playing on their Neo Geo Pocket Colors were on the move and card games are always a fun time while mobile. It would prove to be true later on when Yu-Gi-Oh! would see over a decade of handheld releases across various platforms.
However, SNK vs Capcom: Card Fighters' Clash wasn't implementing fighting game rules in its card games, meaning that it didn't predate Yomi by over a decade. As mentioned earlier, the game's rules are easy to follow, but the tutorial and the in-game terminology menu are an absolute nightmare. This was released during a time when translations were nowhere near as good as they are now, so there are a lot of examples of awkward phrasing and "excessive wordiness." Thanks to the power of modern-day TCGs, "problem-solving text" exists to simplify the descriptions of effects. Using that knowledge, I was able to understand what it was that a card did even when I would be lost without the context.
To help others like myself who may have been confused about the rules of the game due to the hard-to-follow translation, I wanted to share exactly how to play SNK vs. Capcom Card Fighters' Clash in a proper way. Before each game, both players decide turn order and each player begins with five cards. After drawing a card, the player has the option to do up to three things, playing a character card, action card, and providing backup to an existing character card. Character cards are split into two sets, SNK and Capcom, with both sets being featured in the Nintendo Switch version. The original Cards Fighters' Clash had both sets be two separate games, much like Pokemon Red and Blue at the time.
There are no restrictions in playing a creature card although some characters may have abilities that change the flow of how certain characters are played. A 700 Battle Point Common character card may deal a lot of damage for cheap, but it may also have an ability that drains two Special Points at the beginning of the player controller's turn. Backing Up a character means that characters with a relationship can boost each other by 300 BP. BP is the attack value of each character card as well as the life total of the players. Each card can "back up" related cards like Terry backing his brother Andy, which can help restore BP in a pinch.
Abilities are split into three categories, identified by a Circle ●, Triangle ▲, and a Square ■. Circle abilities are abilities that activate under certain conditions passively. Heidern has a really potent Circle Ability where he drains 3 SP from an opponent and gives it to the player if it attacks the opponent directly. Circle Abilities cannot activate during a Union Attack, however, which will be explained later. Triangle and Square abilities can be a bit confusing to explain as they technically are the same but they aren't. Triangle abilities activate as soon as the character card enters the board.
Eiji has a Triangle Ability that effectively lets the player Scry 3. Apologies for using Magic The Gathering terminology as there are a lot of similarities with MTG than Card Fighters' Clash appears at face value. The term "Scry" means to look at a certain number of cards from the top of your deck and arrange them in any order. In this case, it's the top three cards. This only happens once per summon and cannot activate again unless the character card returns to the board once removed.
Square Abilities feature some of the most powerful effects to put on a character card, but can only be used the turn after the character card has entered the board. Once a character card uses its Square Ability, it is frozen until the next unfreeze state, meaning it can't attack or counterattack. If all of this sounds like "summoning sickness" "tapping" and "casting abilities" then you'd be correct. While there aren't any Lands to cast, SP or Special Points are the closes thing to Card Fighters' Clash's mana. These are used to cast Actions, which are the equivalent to Sorceries from MTG and using Union Attacks. There are two Union Attacks, which cost 5 and 10 SP respectively, that utilize either two or three character cards on the board. The BP value of all cards in the Union is combined into one attack, with excess damage converted into player damage.
Players gain SP by summoning character cards that grant them SP. So a character card that has 500 BP and +4 SP is fairly decent as it ensures a Level 1 Union by the turn after the following one. Union Attacks are what help make Card Fighters' Clash into a fast pace game as not only does the player deal with a limited board of only three cards, but also keeps the players on their toes. The opponent has been known to take advantage of Union Attacks, especially with a not-so-great starter deck.
Overall, the base goal to win a game of Card Fighters' Clash is to recycle resources and always keep the pressure on the opponent. There are some abilities that may double the BP of a character but lost BP is permanent damage to the character. Even if attacks don't KO the character, the next attack might do the job. I understand this is less of a review and even less of a usual "first impression," but I've been having fun playing this game over the weekend and I feel it's underrated solely because of its rough translation. Expect more coverage on SNK vs Capcom Card Fighters' Clash soon!
SNK vs Capcom Card Fighters' Clash is available on the Nintendo Switch.