Release Date: September 28, 2004
Pre-order 'SVC CHAOS: SNK vs. Capcom': Xbox
For the fourth and final installment in the Capcom/SNK crossover games, the development was turned back over to SNK. Their previous crossover had been the obscure but brilliant Match of the Millennium on Neo Geo Pocket Color, which was beloved by all who played it. It went largely overlooked, however, because most of North America is brainwashed by Nintendo, and thus wouldn’t know another good portable system if it jumped up and tore a raw chunk out of their face.
Oh, did that sound bitter? Sorry.
Anyway, SVC Chaos is a return to the traditional gameplay that made both Street Fighter and the King of Fighters series popular: straight-up, no-frills one-on-one tournament fighting.
The “groove” systems that’ve characterized the series up until now are gone, as are any kind of team dynamic. You pick a character and that’s it; there are no additional frills. The game plays sort of like a blend of Street Fighter Alpha and Real Bout Fatal Fury, with a double-sized lifebar; “Exceeds,” powerful super moves that can only be used once a battle, and only when your character is at half life or lower; and a three-level super meter that fills a bit every time you attack.
When your super meter is full, you enter Maximum mode, which allows you to break the game in a variety of exciting new ways. In Maximum mode, each character’s moveslist becomes interconnected in a weird way, letting you cancel moves into each other more readily than you can under ordinary circumstances (i.e. hitting someone and instantly going into a special move so you get a combo). You can also burn super meter on Guard Cancels, which let you instantly turn a block into an invincible attack.
The graphics and sound are straight out of the old school. While a few characters have been touched up, and the Capcom crew all have brand new sprites, this is pure 2D fighting: fireballs, dragon punches, anti-air attacks, super moves, two-in-ones, crossups, and all the rest of it. Rather than trying to be all things to all people like Capcom vs. SNK did, SNK’s chosen to put together a solid offering that showcases the best things about a fading genre.
(It’s also one up on Capcom vs. SNK in at least one regard. While there are no polygons or rotating background graphics to be found – this is, after all, one of the last games made for the Neo Geo arcade hardware – there are also no ten-year-old slideshow sprites screwing up the program. Everyone in SVC Chaos looks like they’re in the right game.)
Both companies have brought a full cast of their classic characters to the party, as well as an equally full cast of characters that came right the hell out of left field (Tessa is probably better known from Pocket Fighter than from Red Earth, Earthquake hasn’t been in a game since Samurai Shodown II, Shiki is from Samurai Shodown 64 and has never been in a 2D game before now, and the mostly-forgotten Art of Fighting series is about three times as well-represented as you’d expect it to be, with three fighters on the roster). You can’t keep everyone happy with a dream match like this one, but the usual suspects—Terry, Ryu, Kyo, Iori, Ken, Mai, Chun-Li, Guile, Ryo, Kim, Bison, Sagat, etc.—are all there. Most of the cast of Street Fighter 2 returns to the fray on Capcom’s side, although Blanka and Honda are missing in action, while SNK favors more of a “greatest hits” approach.
The game’s bosses are also a touch strange. You kind of expect Shin Akuma to be in a Street Fighter game by now, just as Orochi Iori from KOF97 will usually show up, but the rest are weirder.
Capcom fields Dan Hibiki from Street Fighter Alpha, Demitri Maximov from DarkStalkers (one of the best reasons to own the game is to blow some time in practice mode hitting characters with his Midnight Bliss super), Zero from the Mega Man X games, and a possessed and “Violent” version of Ken (it was his turn to go evil, I guess) while SNK brings Fatal Fury’s unkillable Geese Howard, one of Metal Slug’s Mars People, Orochi Iori, and KOF96’s very killable Goenitz.
If you win past them, you may fight Shin Akuma, a powered-up and nearly unbeatable Mr. Karate, the bikini-clad “goddess” Athena from her old NES game, or Red Arremer, the demonic hero of the old Gargoyle’s Quest games on SNES. SNK Boss Syndrome is in full effect here; only the best, cheapest, or luckiest players will be able to beat these guys. I can’t do it, but then again, I suck.
All in all, SVC Chaos is a nearly perfect adaptation of the arcade game. It’s weird to finally be able to play an SNK fighting game on a home console that isn’t a Neo Geo, but after three hardware generations and fifteen years, they’ve finally got a handle on it. When it comes out on PS2 and Xbox, there’ll even be online play added into the mix.