When the two biggest 2D fighting franchises decide to team up and just have a good time, the result is, so I read, Capcom vs. SNK: Millennium Fight 2000.
Not the first, nor the last of the vs. line of games for these two juggernauts, it is the latest one to be put in front of me in the hopes of finding a fighting game I like to play as much as Tekken. I like to look at them and admire them in the hands of experts, but so far my time actually playing any of these 2D titles is not so good.
Will Capcom vs. SNK buck the trend?
After a bit of a sub-par intro screen compared to all the other wacky graphics from other titles (I thinking Third Strike here), the arcade mode presents us with one of the biggest choices you'll need to make in Capcom vs. SNK: which groove to use.
This is basically a choice of 'do you want fancy moves like Street Fighter or like Fatal Fury?' and there's only one choice for me, knowing more about Capcom than I do about SNK. Not much more, granted, but enough to always pick it.
From here, you get four points-worth of prizefighters to pick from. The stronger members of the rosters take up more space in your team, so you might only bring along one or two combatants, but you could fill your team up with the weakest of the bunch and have four chances to make progress through a stage.
I understood this well after the fact, by the way, so just picked on brand recognition. C'mon down, Guile and Chun-Li...
Gah, I should have picked Cammy.
A short stage introduction and some black and white title cards let us know we're in for a fight, but despite picking teams, this isn't a game like Marvel vs. Capcom, with team members jumping out in support of you every now and then. Instead, it's a one-on-one bout until there are no more members of a team left to fight. Here's hoping I won't need to use Chun-Li for a while...
The controls are closer to those of the Fatal Fury series, though again, I only know this after the fact. Just tell me where the kicks and punches are and I'll bash them when I think it's necessary, thanks. It's not pretty, but I'm able to suplex my opponents, so all is well.
A satisfying KO graphic spins into view when I've finally got the upper hand of my first enemy, and it's on to the next. You'll not regain a lot of health between fights, so you'll have to keep your wits about you and play smart.
More button mashing did the job against Blanka, who basically stood there and took it. Not the greatest of rounds, that, but I'll take it. Last up is Ryu, and like all other fighting games, I won't be happy until I perform a fancy move of some kind, as though I meant to do something cool and actually did. It hasn't happened yet.
Anything else, Ryu? No? Out of fancy moves are you, you bastard? Why can the computer do them effortlessly, and often? It's just not cool.
What is neat is a little roll move that puts you through your opponent without any problems. I didn't make much use of it, but it gives you another, probably safer option of getting behind someone than jumping over them.
Didn't bloody help though, did it? The first fight ends in failure. What difficulty are we on? Number 2. Ok. Well, let's just drop that down to number 1 and see how we fair next time. Let's bring out the girls.
Zangief, I think you're in the wrong fight...
Again, not a whole lot of fancy moves in this fight, but if you spam the kick button, Chun-Li will do that leg thing of hers. One of the leg things, at least. I should point out that apart from the Hadouken and the Sonic Boom, I couldn't tell you anything about Street Fighter character moves. I just recognise them here and there.
Speaking of recognise, have we had an SNK character yet?
Further Fun Times
Ah, there's one. Yuri. Nice to meet you, Yuri. I couldn't help but notice you were on the receiving end of a special move, the absurd helicopter kick thing that Chun-Li does. How did that feel? Because for me, it felt pretty good, finally pulling off something that wasn't basic.
At the same time, however, it felt awful. If memory serves you need to charge up one directional input before letting go, moving to another and kicking. Timing it, holding it for the right amount, being in the right place to make the most of it... it almost didn't feel worth it.
Still, I had to keep busting it out knowing something more about how to pull it off, right?
Finally, on the easiest difficulty, I had won a fight. I didn't even need to use more than one character. Things were looking up!
And then these arseholes showed up.
The more I see Ryu and Ken, the more I hate Ryu and Ken. The poster boys of Street Fighter are nothing but street thugs to me now, getting in between me and a good time.
There are some great uses of shadows in this stage, which is the first thing I've really noticed about the stages. They were a bit bland until now. That fence in the corner gets in the way if you're behind it, but those shadows on the wall are lovely. Shame most of them had Cammy in agony.
You can choose the order of your fighters before the fight, and that's it. Thinking I'd need Chun-Li sooner rather than later, I put her second, hoping to then not need Sakura. I've said that before...
Eventually dispatching Ken, it was just me and Ryu, with another me if I needed it.
Yeah. I needed it. Out you come, Sakura.
So, not only can I not do anything fancy with any character, these guys can fill the screen with light and fireball the shite out of me, again and again. Now do you see how I hate Ryu and Ken?
Upon defeat, I was given the option of picking another team to face these brutes, and not really wanting to, I elected to pick Mai, because Mai, and then, after not really seeing anyone I cared about anymore, E. Honda.
Which was a mistake.
Mai actually beat most of the shit out of Ken, using only basic moves (as expected), before Ken remembered he was Ken and did what Ken does best. The bastard.
But it was very close, and it'd mean E. Honda would have a much easier time of Ken, but at this point, I was still E. Honda, and I simply don't do well with characters like E. Honda.
The stage was set. E. Honda vs Ryu. If I won, I'd continue playing Capcom vs. SNK in a somewhat positive light. If I lost, on the easiest difficulty, in the second fight, I'd quit the game and go moan about it at a later date in a blog post.
Why can I not get into 2D fighting games? Why do they demand levels of skill far beyond that which a novice is capable? What happened to steadily ramping up the difficulty to give players a sense of accomplishment early on, but a clear warning of needing to up your game if you want to continue winning?
Capcom vs. SNK looks pretty good. The sprites are nice and clear and while I don't think they're as fluid as they could be, that might just have been me playing on the Normal, not Turbo mode.
The overall presentation is a step down from Third Strike, I think, and shadows on walls can't save that. There's something about the look that just feels almost too basic. You've got the greatest rosters of 2D fighting on show here - spice it up already.
If this is having fun, then I've missed the boat, surely. I don't have fun losing on the lowest difficulty so easily. That's the opposite of fun. I don't have fun trying to input fancy moves, then watching the opposition stomp me with super fancy moves. I've got the option of using the analogue stick or the D-pad, but it just didn't help me.
I am still searching for a 2D fighting game to make me feel great. We've come close in terms of looks, style, controls and so on, but never as a whole package. I think that what I'm actually looking for is Tekken with sprites, and Capcom vs. SNK is not that. Nothing is that. Not even Tekken is that.
So the search for me continues. If you're a fan of the characters, they're all ready to go, no unlocking required so far as I can see, so you could just have a few fights between whoever you want and be done with it.
Or you could lose against Ryu and Ken and, well, be done with it.
This was the first game in the series to be released in the arcades, where both of these franchises first smashed their way into video game history.
Capcom vs. SNK: Millennium Fight 2000, developed by Capcom Production Studio 1, first released in 2000.
Version played: Capcom vs. SNK, Sega Dreamcast, 2000, via emulation.