Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
I always liked trading card games ever since I first played Pokémon as a kid. I was one of the best players in town winning multiple tournaments and was one of the best in the local Pokémon League. As I got older I got into other card games from well-known games like Magic, Yu-Gi-Oh to lesser-known TCGs like WWE, Sailor Moon, Gundam, Digimon, and Dragon Ball Z. If there was a card game I was willing to try it though I always ran into the problem of having no one to play with so I always ended up just making my dad play them with me. Now that I am older I am glad these games are turning digital.
SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighters Clash isn’t a new game as it came out back in 1999 for the Neo Geo Pocket Color, a system I never had as a kid so I never got to play this until now. The original game came in two versions, the SNK version and the Capcom version, which are both included in this re-release and each version has its own save files. The difference between the two versions are the characters you play. With SNK you can pick from Shin (male) or Kei (female) in the Capcom version you can pick from Cap (male) or Comet (female). You can rename them if you wish. Your starting deck also changes from which version you chose as SNK gives you an SNK deck and Capcom gives you a Capcom deck. Each version also has exclusive cards available only in each version and altogether there are 300 cards to collect in total.
Aside from the SNK and Capcom cards, there are action cards that I will get to in a moment. The SNK and Capcom cards are called character cards, or CHA for short. Each character has Battle Points (BP) and Soul Points (SP). Battle points are how strong a character is in both strength and health. When attacking your BP will equal how much damage is done to your opponent. If your opponent counter-attacks, you will damage and take damage from their CHA’s card BP. Each player has 2000-3000 HP depending on who you are playing against and boss characters will give each player 3000 HP while all others give each player 2000.
Each CHA card you play can give you SP which either lets you use action cards or perform union attacks. Union attacks let you attack using up to three CHA cards that are in play to add their BP’s together and attack while the other player can only use one CHA to counter-attack. Each CHA card may also be backed up by certain characters. The cards themselves say who can back them up and doing so adds 300 BP to them. If a CHA card has ??? on it under backup it means you can find a character from the other side that can back them up. For example if I am using a Capcom card the ??? will be an SNK character that you must find out by trying to use it in a match. Some character cards have an ability that can be used at different times depending on the skill, some are active when you first play the card, others you can decide when to use it, and lastly are those active at all times as long as that card is in play.
Card Fighters Clash plays in three phases. The first phase is the draw phase where you draw a card from your pile as it’s called in the game. The second phase is the set phase where you can set one CHA card down per turn in the ring up to a total of three. You may also use an action card in your set phase if you have the SP to use it. A CHA can also not attack after being placed in the ring, you have to wait until your next turn but you may use it to counterattack. Lastly, the third phase is the attack phase where you can choose to attack your opponent or not.
When not in a card battle, Card Fighters Clash plays like an RPG where you can go to different places each with its own theme and leader who you must beat to get a coin. One of my favorite themed places was the Resident Evil mansion. Once you get all of the coins you can enter the SC Card Clash tournament. I made it to the tournament and got beat fast by the first opponent. One of the issues with the game was you only get a few cards for winning a match and most of the time even when I had less than 100 cards I would end up getting the same cards I already had so the game has a bit of a grind factor to you.
There are other ways to get cards like a crane game where you can get one free card after each battle or trading with NPCs. Also, using a trading machine that you have to give so many cards of various rarity to get one card that may end up being one you already have, or at a shop where you can trade high rarity cards for others. You can also use both saves to trade cards from one version to the other and also fight each other which is a pretty cool feature. Another feature this game has is a rewind option although I didn’t use it much it is nice to have just in case. You can also view the original manuals for both games. Some Easter eggs are hidden in the game too with the likes of voice actress Harumi Ikoma being a character in the game and even a character based on Shinji Mikami!
I may not be the most knowledgeable when it comes to SNK characters but I do love a good card game and this is a fun easy to play hard to master game. I liked this game so much that I am now looking for a copy of SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighters DS so I can give that one a try even with its well-known game-breaking bug. This version however has no such bug and the only negatives were that it was a little difficult at times and the translation was never fixed which was pretty bad at times. Some may find that not being able to go full screen to be a problem but you can zoom in so that most of the game screen and not the Neo Geo Pocket is shown.
Overall SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighters Clash is a solid card game that is a blast from the past. I may have missed this when it originally came out due to never owning a Neo Geo Pocket but I sure am glad SNK decided to re-release the game on Switch. Here’s hoping we see a new SNK vs. Capcom in the future or even a re-release of the Japanese-only second game that has been translated.Score: 8 / 10