The vs. series that never impressed me.
Back in the late 90's Capcom had already began experimenting with the whole vs. fighting game series, which pitted popular characters from their different fighting games against each other. In all fairness though, they shamelessly swiped the idea from SNK when they introduced their King of Fighters series back in 1994, which did the exact same thing by pitting their fighting games Fatal Fury, Art Fighting, and other characters to fight in a tournament. Fans of both games openly argued about which company had the better characters and the better fighting games.
In 2000 Capcom would borrow some of SNK's characters for Capcom vs. SNK to decide who were the baddest of the bad; sadly, this game really wasn't very good for a host of reasons, and off memory the low number character roster had something to do with that. In 2001, Capcom introduced the sequel and although it was better, the game was still a disappointment to me and I saw myself right back playing Tekken Tag Tournament. In any case, Capcom vs. SNK 2 is a semi-decent fighter at best, that I rarely even pull out for the get togethers. Also, notice I didn't start this review off with a story recap, because folks, there isn't a story at all. It's just a tournament taking place, and these guys and gals are just fighting.
Capcom vs. SNK 2 is a 2D fighter that pits fighters in three on three competition, and the goal is to win these three matches several times and face the final boss. The game boasts more than 40 fighters, and they're pulled from Street Fighter, Last Blade, Fatal Fury, Mark of the Wolves, Samurai Showdown, Darkstalkers, King of Fighters, and probably some I forgot. It looks extremely promising on paper and the character roster will grab fighting fans attention, but after a few hours of playing this, it's clear that something is wrong.
Now before I get to the games problems, I'll say that the fighting system is deep. It's pretty easy to pull off multi-hit combos and chain together specials, along with super specials into attacks for some big damage. The characters have their ways such as dashing, side stepping, or rolling to close some distance; but the meat of this game is the groove/play style selection.
There are a total of six grooves to choose across six letters: C,A,P, and S,N,K. The letters represent the companies names, but each one has a specific function to work into the game play. In the case of C, this allows the player to charge up the super special gauge up to three levels to use super moves for big damage. The specials can be used all at once or three times depending on the strength of the button command. S can be charged up by holding the strongest kick and punch buttons to charge up the bar, and as a bonus, when the character is low on health they can use unlimited specials. All of these play styles have a different function that can allow players to block in the air, parry attacks, or counter attack quicker. Most people are going to hang with the style they work with best, but at first it's just fun to experiment.
There's a training mode with a stage select to refine your skills, and a pretty complicated feature to customize characters. Unfortunately, this is about all the game truly does well. First of all, SNK clearly wins here when it comes down to its characters. Their characters are slightly better, some will argue by a large margin, because they don't have too many clones. Kyo plays a lot different from his rival Iori, since he's more of a close in fighter, and Rock Howard is slightly different from his father Geese, and you will notice this across most of their fighters. They really do feel different from one another. While Street Fighter has a bunch of shoto-clones as usual. There really isn't much of a difference between Ryu, Ken, Akuma, and I'll even say Sagat; Ryu and Sagat could have stayed in the game while the others could've been omitted, and fan boys feelings would've been the only thing to suffer. Capcom even has evil Ryu and Shin Akuma which feels pointless here. On the bright side though, fans of both of these companies will feel at home with either side, because their play styles haven't changed.
The main campaign is way too short and easy. The AI is totally pathetic as all it does is spam moves and rarely tests your skill, and this goes for the harder difficulties. This game is way too easy when compared to the Street Fighter Alpha and Real Bout Fatal Fury series. It tries to make up with overly cheap sub boss and final boss battles; I will always find this style of fighting game development to be lazy as hell. I want to win using all of the characters skills at hand during high level of play. Not steamroll through a bunch of dummies and come into a boss with moves that dominates all.
There's an option for one on one battle but this suffers from the same ailments, and it makes the boss battles tougher. The survival mode is tacked on and it's a throw away, and the only mode worth anything is the two player vs mode. This game just didn't work well in regards to replay even back then with Tekken Tag, Soul Calibur, Marvel vs. Capcom 2, and even Guilty Gear X being around at that time, and it sure as hell doesn't hold up well now with all these Street Fighter Alpha, Fatal Fury, and Samurai Shodown Anthologies floating around.
I always felt Capcom dropped the ball with this game. It never impressed me and after this replay it just didn't spend much time in the PS2. The issues find their way into other areas too.
This area is a highlight since pulling off moves is pretty simple, and the button prompts can be customized to your playing preference. The button prompts are very responsive and quite forgiving. However, I did notice a slight bit of sluggishness in the D-Pad. The game isn't quite as responsive as the Street Fighter Alpha series, but it's far above most SNK fighters. The good news is that you won't be fighting two fights; one against your opponent and second against the controls.
Even around this time Capcom's laziness was already on its way towards being legendary, because they had spent a few years before this milking SF II for all it was worth; but come on, they actually dumbed down and even rehashed graphics. The character designs for their characters are stale; Sagat is running around in his same form from Street Fighter Alpha one. The shoto-clones such as Ryu, Ken, Akuma etc, aren't just twins, but there really isn't much life to their stances. There are barely any updates here at all. While SNK's characters have some type of variety and small updates. The battle areas are boring. They take place in locations such as a beach with a land-rover passing by, in a ring, and a flaming city. The city looks cool I will admit, but it's a shame that's the only good place for combat. I'll give the animation credit though; the usual shadow effect following characters after they perform super moves still looks cool, and the moves are kind of fluid with nice flashing colors.
The music is uninspired, bland, and it never roped me into the game. There are only two listenable themes that take place in the boss battles. One is an updated version of Akuma's theme, and another is a pretty good one for Rugal. When I play this game with friends it's never an argument to stick with their stages. The punch and kick blows are decent, the voices are intact, and there's nice little sound effects for the projectiles. For the most part this area is a failure though.
Back around 2000 - 2002 I would have recommended plenty of fighters before this with Soul Calibur 2 as a must have now thing. Capcom vs. SNK 2 was inferior even back then, and there were fighters to pre-date it that still had plenty of life in them. It feels even worse now with so many 2D fighting collections floating out there, plus far superior fighters that came out over the last 5 years. My advice is to just forget about this game. Don't even bother out of curiosity because there's nothing here to offer. If you want to have a 2D fighter session then get these collections: Fatal Fury Battle Archives 2, King of Fighters: Orochi Saga, King of Fighters 98: Ultimate Match and Samurai Shodown Anthology.
Pros: Deep fighting system
Cons: Very low replay value, weak main campaign