Release Date: September 15, 2004
Pre-order 'SVC CHAOS: SNK vs. Capcom': Xbox
Between SNK’s and Capcom’s Street Fighter offerings at this year’s E3, fans of the famous 2D fighting franchise had it made in the shade. Over in Capcom’s booth, they had an assortment of genuine Street Fighter 2 arcade cabinets, running every version of the game from the original to Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo Edition. This was, of course, a clever attempt to promote the upcoming 15th Anniversary Edition of Street Fighter 2 for the PS2 and Xbox, which will include all the aforementioned Street Fighter games as well as Street Fighter 3: Third Strike (which was previously only available on the arcade and Dreamcast) on a single disc. The release date on that bad boy is 7.27.2004 on the PS2 and 9.14.2004 on the Xbox.
But as tempting as the thought of camping out in front of the original Street Fighter 2 arcade game for the entirety of E3 was, I soon came to the realization that my colleagues, who were all busy combing the three showroom floors of the LA Convention Center to bring our readers up-to-the-minute coverage on titles that haven’t been out for 15 years already, might start to get suspicious if the sum total of my coverage for the show took the form of a twenty-page essay on the fundamental and philosophical differences between Ken and Ryu.
So after spending far too much time in Capcom’s nostalgic nook, and after beating the pulp out of any who dared to challenge me at Street Fighter 2, I turned my sights to a promising new take on my favorite fighting game franchise of all time. The giant SVC Chaos: SNK vs. Capcom poster hanging above SNK’s modest booth was a clear indication of where I needed to go next, though I could have easily missed sight of the thing in all the crazy props, posters, people and other environmental craziness that saturated every inch of the joint.
It wasn’t long before I made my way through a sea of swag-carrying attendees to SNK’s booth where the recently reformed company was promoting their upcoming collaboration brawler entitled SVC Chaos: SNK vs. Capcom by showcasing the game on a few Xboxess and a single stand-up arcade unit. I patiently watched and waited my turn, like so many times before in years past at various arcades across the northwest, sans quarter, as new challengers were introduced and defeated at the hands of a player who chose to reign fiery hell from above with a particularly nasty looking Akuma. I stepped up to the arcade cabinet, slapped the second-player start button, and chose Ken, who then proceeded to rip the reigning Akuma a “new one” with an assortment of punishing hurricane kick to uppercut to dragon punch combos and an occasional fireball, for good measure.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from SNK’s rendition of Street Fighter gameplay dynamics, but as long as I could throw fireballs, perform hurricane kicks, and execute dragon punches, I’d be happy. Luckily for more discerning fighting fans, it turns out that SNK vs. Capcom is actually a surprisingly solid fighting game that feels and plays like a faster and somewhat looser Street Fighter 3 (but without the liquid smooth animation, unfortunately).
The control setup, which includes a single row of four attack buttons (weak kick, weak punch, fierce kick, fierce punch) and a directional stick, took a little getting used to. But the most dramatic change to the fundamental Street Fighter 2 gameplay dynamics is how throws are performed in the game. Instead of simply pressing towards your opponent and hitting a fierce punch or kick button to grab and toss your opponent, you are required to press the weak punch/kick or fierce punch/kick buttons at the same time – which forced me to rely on the maneuver a lot less than I ordinarily would. This modification’s similar to how throws are performed in Street Fighter Alpha 3, but for a Street Fighter 2 purist such as myself, it’s a jarring change.
Nevertheless, despite the SNK-slanted gameplay styling, SVC Chaos retains more than enough fundamental Street Fighter dynamics to keep fans of the fighting series happy. More than 17 characters from the Capcom universe will make a playable appearance in SNK VS Capcom, including Ken (and Violent Ken!), Ryu, Akuma, Guile, Chun-Li, Dhalsim, Hugo, Tessa (a character from the obscure arcade game Warzard), M. Bison, Sagat, Vega, Balrog, Dan, and Zero (of Mega Man fame). SNK fans can look forward to playing as characters such as Kyo Kusanagi, Iori Yagami, Terry Bogard, “My, My” Mai Shiranui, Choi Bounge, Kim Kaphwan, Mr. Karate, Earthquake, Genjuro Kibagami, Shiki, Kasumi Todo, and Ryo Sakazaki, as well as a handful of other, yet-to-be-officially-announced fighters from one or both companies fighting franchises. In all, SNK promises that there will be 36 or more characters featured in the final version of the game.
An assortment of new gameplay additions will make themselves evident to players who stick with it long enough to actually notice and utilize them. Aside from obvious stuff like a three-level power gauge and a SNK-flavored gameplay system, things such as the Forward Ground Step move (which has to do with attack timing), a new Exceed Move (which allows you to pull off a combination of ultra-powerful special attacks), and a Marvel vs. Capcom-style push-back block maneuver, make the traditional gameplay mechanics refreshingly new again. Aside from the fact that this is the first time Capcom has allowed another company to make an arcade game featuring their Street Fighter cast, it’s the promise of full online functionality over Xbox Live that will set SNK vs. Capcom apart from the relatively small crowd of other 2D fighting games on the market.
SVC Chaos: SNK vs. Capcom is currently in development exclusively for the Xbox (NeoGeo and PlayStation-2 versions were released in Japan late last year), and is tentatively planned for retail release on September 15 of this year. Stay tuned for updates.