Review by Solid Sonic

Reviewed: 07/25/05 | Updated: 02/08/08

Not good...but surprisingly, not bad either...

Best Features: Yet another clash for the SNK and Capcom crowds, good presentation and art style, interesting dialogue system.

Worst Features: Awful roster selection, shoddy controls, fights tend to drag on, unbalanced CPU difficulty, still using KoF '94-quality sprites, lack of variety in modes.

The two monoliths of two-dimensional fighting: SNK and Capcom. Both companies have put out multiple fighters and created an amazing library of characters. Inevitably, it would come to blows. Capcom hosted the first 2 clashes (not counting the stellar SNK-produced SNK VS Capcom: Match of the Millennium for the Neo Geo Pocket Color) and the 2nd attempt (Capcom VS SNK 2: Millionaire Fight 2001) is widely considered one of the best 2D fighters to date. After a long break, the ball has ended up in SNK's court with SNK VS Capcom: SVC Chaos. Could they put out as much as Capcom's efforts? Well...not quite...

Graphics: 6
Stone-age graphics of an era refusing to die mark the latest SNK and Capcom throwdown. SNK did a fairly good job drawing up some of the sprites for Capcom's side (Hugo in particular) but in general, SNK still refuses to give up the Neo Geo platform. The graphics in this game are cleaner than other Neo Geo games but as a whole, it still feels unpolished and rough. Iori, Ryo, and Kyo's sprites are lifted directly from the King of Fighters series (which, up until now, runs on the same hardware). Luckily, one thing the beyond-aged hardware is good at is powerful sprite-based animation. This is one area it doesn't fail. The fast fighting is complemented with smooth movement. The presentation is also good with nice character art and some cool-looking special and super moves. However, if SNK wants another round in the company showdown, it'd be in their best interest to build the next game on the new Atomiswave platform (which is the framework for The King of Fighters: Neowave).

Sound/Music: 7
Nothing particularly noteworthy in this category. The standard sound effects for a two-dimensional fighter are all accounted for. The music is the SNK Neo Geo-norm and doesn't really show any individuality. It is pertinent to note that some of the Capcom voice-overs were lifted from the Capcom VS SNK series. Not a bad move since it keeps the tone and mood that defines those characters. I'm marking this score down to a "7" because I am just not impressed with following the standard and not trying anything new.

Control: 5
I'm not marking this category down because I was playing this on an Xbox controller. The control for this game is seriously busted. Simple QCF motions are a chore to perform with the D-Pad. This is the first fighter I've ever played that using the control stick was a better idea. Even the arcade version suffered from the stiff and under-responsive controls. Other SNK games are far easier to control so I don't know how they dropped the ball on this one. The fighting here is fast and furious (as is the SNK-norm) so having responsive controls should be a must.

Gameplay: 7
Luckily, SvC isn't a total loss. The gameplay uses some SNK standbys and also adds a few Capcom-esque tweaks to the established engine. The systems deftly reflect the King of Fighters series with techniques lifted from Capcom titles. The super bar system is a 3 level bar (like that of Capcom) with a Maximum mode that ticks down (like SNK's King of Fighters' Extra mode). Guard Cancel Steps come from KoF while dashing (instead of running) is brought over from Street Fighter III. It makes for a good, solid mix. One out-of-nowhere innovation to be found is the unique dialogue system. Every character in the game has something to say to everyone else before a bout begins. No two conversations are alike and each are tailored toward the personality they're talking to. However, it is not without its flaws. SNK did an atrocious job filling out their roster, almost seeming random with its selections. Instead of having a solid lineup with characters that represent as many games as possible from each company, SNK appears to have chosen characters out of a hat and implement them. There are must-have characters such as Chun-Li, Kyo Kusanagi, and Ryu but the other characters (such as Kasumi Todoh, Earthquake, and Tessa) seem almost completely haphazard. Genjuro without Haohmaru? No one from Garou: Mark of the Wolves? Dan Hibiki but no Yuri Sakazaki (the character he frequently parodies)? Choi Bounge with Chang Koehan nowhere in sight? In addition, the roster is mind-numbingly small (approximately 25 characters as opposed to Capcom VS SNK 2's 44) Moving away from the roster, a lack of modes also hurts the gameplay category. No team matches or other SNK-ish modes are here. Just a standard Arcade, Survival, and Versus mode. Not terrible but really needs some work.

Replay Value: 6
If you read my reviews of other 2D fighting games, you'll notice a pattern in this category: I always say that fighting games have an inherent replay property. All fighters carry it, 2D or 3D. Since fighting games are the epitome of competitive gaming, getting better and improving your technique are essential in an evolve-or-die situation. Luckily, the game has the option of taking the fight online over Xbox LIVE. This means a wealth of new opponents are just itching to take you on. I don't know how smooth the LIVE play is (since I don't have broadband) but Capcom VS SNK 2 EO showed that its possible. Offline, the game's value dwindles. With only two secret characters (Red Arremer and Athena), there isn't much to unlock. There are gallery pictures but those are just Easter eggs for the "Otaku" gamer. The CPU matches are usually unbalanced as the CPU's difficulty is set very high (so even on the easiest setting, you'll be in for at least a few tough matches; compounded by the flawed control). Plus, the lifebars here are two-fold so matches generally continue for a very long time (not fun when you're losing).

Overall: 6
I'd be willing to give this game a 6.5 if my review system didn't use whole numbers only (and the score in this category always reflects the GameFAQs-assigned total score). While not a terrible entry into the realm of 2D fighting (that dishonor goes to Capcom Fighting Evolution), I know I've seen better out of SNK. Poor control and a pitiable roster are the major shortcomings here. Despite having a respectable fighting system, its held back by too many nips and tucks that just needed work. As a whole, I'm willing to call this game "rushed" and leave it at that. A potentially good game that just seems like it was forced out the door before it could really be ironed out. Hopefully, if SNK attempts a sequel, we may see some real fighting.

Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Product Release: SVC Chaos: SNK vs. Capcom (US, 09/28/04)

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