Review RPG

SNK VS. Capcom: Card Fighters’ Clash – Review

When you have two colossal entities such as 90s Capcom and 90s SNK who are known for putting out the cream of the fighting game crop, you’re often thrust into a debate on who’s better. Capcom and SNK also had this debate and each had their own way of handling it; SNK decided that their pocket handheld should be home to the battle of the century – SNK Vs Capcom: Card Fighters’ Clash.

Match of the Millenium

Now I know there were fighting game titles such as Capcom Vs SNK and the recently released SNK Vs Capcom: Match of the Millennium, the latter being the crown jewel of the NeoGeo Pocket Colour Selection Vol.1, but here SNK decided to catch everyone off guard. This is no fighting game – they’re having the two companies duel using the medium of collectible card games.

Set in a world that seems to have lost the battle against Capcom/SNK dominance, everything revolves around collectible battle cards designed around iconic characters. Areas are themed on the two companies’ properties such as the Spencer Mansion from Resident Evil and the only struggle in the world is tracking down that illusive Akuma card for your deck.

SNK Vs Capcom: Card Fighters’ Clash is technically an RPG but the story and locations are just tongue-in-cheek celebrations of the two companies that come together. There are no high stakes, world-ending stuff here. This just shows a competition, which is purely there as an excuse as to why everyone and their dog is obsessed with collecting cards with Ryu and Ken’s faces plastered all over them.

SNK VS. Capcom: Card Fighters' Clash - Terry Card

Two Cards In One

This is actually two versions of a game in one. There’s an SNK version and a Capcom version. Much like Pokémon, the games are almost the same, but some of the 300 cards are unique to each version and you can trade them between versions. Conveniently, this port allows you to play both versions from a menu in the title screen and transfer cards between saves. There’s no more relying on knowing anyone else who has a NeoGeo Pocket Colour and the opposite version of the game.

You can choose from 4 possible characters. Shin and Kei for the SNK version Cap and Comet for the Capcom version. I’m sure the naming isn’t lost on any of you. 

In SNK Vs Capcom: Card Fighters’ Clash you aim to become the ultimate Card Fighters champ by beating everyone, getting the 6 coins to prove your stuff, and hopefully collecting all 300 cards while you’re there. It’s light on story and the dialogue is riddled with typos but it’s fun, inoffensive, and merely window dressing. It reminds me of the often-overlooked Pokémon Trading Card Game on GameBoy Colour that consumed my time on release.

The Heart of Battle Lies Within the Cards

Now I know what you’re thinking. How does one put the thrill of street fighting and becoming the King of Fighters into a portable game based on cards? Simply put you don’t. Instead, you’re greeted with a simple to learn, tough to master “Magic the Gathering” lite with your favorite properties.

I’ll try and spare you a mini-tutorial. The game has a bountiful one of those and a lovely glossary for you to catch up on the many terms you’ll hear throughout.

You have attack cards; you can place 3 down, 1 per turn and they grant you SP which allows you to use card abilities and also ability cards (there is a difference!). Each card has an attack value. If your value is larger than the defending card you destroy the card. Their attack amount then comes off of your cards H.P. When you don’t have any cards in the field to defend, attacks directly damage your character’s H.P. Destroy your opponent’s cards and then drop their character HP to zero – this is the path to victory. When you win, you’re given cards that help you craft your ideal 50 card deck.

Now that is just a very basic overview of how the matches flow. As mentioned, there is a detailed tutorial that I implore you to dive into to get the most out of your experience.

SNK VS. Capcom: Card Fighters' Clash - RPG

Genre Shuffle 

You’ll be exploring the game’s 6 locations and talking to other players and onlookers. While this may look and sound like a traditional JRPG, this is purely window dressing and won’t see you making any tough choices or exploring uncharted lands.

The battles do have a tendency to drag on at points with the counter mechanic but for the bulk of the time, it’s wonderfully pick up and play. It’s an ideal handheld title where you can spend half an hour just battling, adjusting your deck, and collecting cards.

Card Hustle

Unfortunately and this is a big unfortunately this game isn’t playable online. It’s the same as every other title in the Neo Geo Pocket Colour Collection series, but it’s almost cripplingly absent here. 

What would have been the start of an absolute boom resurgence for the game is hampered by the fact you can only play it locally. At this point, I think Code Mystics really should look into developing a new code for the collection.

SNK Vs Capcom: Card Fighters’ Clash is a port and uses the same emulator as the previous games in the Pocket Colour Collection which are detailed in my previous review. Overall, it’s still a very high standard, very customizable emulator and the digital instruction book gives me immense joy.

SNK VS. Capcom: Card Fighters' Clash - Emulator View

Ultra-Rare Shiny

The presentation in SNK Vs Capcom: Card Fighters’ Clash is top-notch for what was essentially an 8-bit handheld. While the field graphics aren’t anything to write home about, the card sprite art is phenomenal.

As a huge fan of both companies, my major draw with this game was to collect all the cards just to see the beautiful sprite work and how my favorite characters are being represented in just an image on the card.

Despite all the visuals being quite basic the game oozes charm. It took me back to an era where it was all about the fun and gameplay rather than games looking realistic and being riddled with ray tracing.

The music is that whimsical 8-bit style that you would associate with NES/GBA. There’s even the odd voice clip, which is mighty impressive for the console of origin.

The only places where the presentation isn’t quite up to snuff lie within the bare-bones sound effects and the odd typos here and there. Presumably, these were transferred from the original release.


SNK Vs Capcom: Card Fighters’ Clash represents exactly what I had hoped for when SNK announced they were porting a collection of old titles. It’s an obscure and fun celebration that doubles up as a time capsule of one of the most exciting times in gaming.

The lack of online does harm this title, but it’s made up for slightly by the inclusion of both versions of the game. Hopefully, the 2nd volume of this collection also sees the sequel to this title amongst a few more obscure and fun titles from the little handheld nobody owned.


Platforms: Nintendo Switch

If you find yourself wanting more RPG games, check out our review of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.

Many thanks go to SNK who provided a Nintendo Switch review code for this title.

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