Capcom vs. SNK: Millennium Fight 2000
Good as the Neo-Geo Pocket games were, there was no denying that the most anticipated crossover product was the upcoming arcade and Dreamcast title, Capcom vs. SNK: Millennium Fight 2000. The portable version only heightened anticipation of the "real" team-up; after all, how could it not be a hit? Just merge the polished gameplay of the portable with the audiovisuals of the Naomi/Dreamcast hardware and you've got instant perfection, right? Of course.
It's just that it didn't happen that way. Far from being the ultimate team-up, CvS is a poorly planned, rushed, and downright embarrassing product, saved only by the pedigree of the games that preceded it. After all, no product of Capcom and SNK could be that bad or that poorly received by the masses. But... why does it seem like Capcom and SNK were counting on that?
The graphics alone show how quickly CvS was slapped together. Most of the character sprites were simply ripped from Street Fighter Alpha and King of Fighters, and the discrepancy is painfully obvious. To its credit, CvS does feature very nice stage introductions and a decent opening, but the between-level screens are marred by some of the ugliest character artwork I have ever seen. Some of SNK's renditions of Capcom's characters are decent, but the rest of them look almost exactly like the terrible airbrushed art from the Street Fighter-GI Joe action figures. Not that Capcom's illustrations were any better; Mai in particular looks positively disgusting. (I won't even get into the poster that accompanied the game, except to say that if you, too, bought one, I am truly sorry.)
Question: gameplay-wise, why on Earth is CvS less deep than the portable? In The Match of The Millennium, you chose from three different fighting styles; in CvS, you choose from two: Capcom (like SFA3's A-ism) or SNK (KoF's manual charge and desperation attacks). MotM let you pick either Single, Tag, or Team; CvS, which only features elimination battles, is a pointless step down. What's worse, you're not even free to select any team you like. CvS' only new feature, the "ratio" system, prevents that. The ratio system gives you a total of four points to work with. Some characters are worth three points, some two, some one. One-point characters, like Cammy and King, are rather weak, three-pointers like Geese and Sagat are maniacs. So, let's say you've been looking forward to playing the team of Geese and M. Bison. Well, you can't. Sorry. Nor can you effectively play Sakura and Yuri Sakazaki; they're far too weak on their own.
Many a Capcom game has been saved by its secrets. You'll have to play through CvS close to a hundred times to unlock all the secrets, but since the final boss (Geese) is such a cheap piece of trash, you'd be better off downloading a completed VMU save. So what do you get? EX versions of every character that contain all the moves you thought were missing and none of the ones you like; secret stages, new colors, and a ratio select mode which only works in the versus mode. This option, which allows you to select the ratio level of each of your characters, might have solved the game's severe balance problems if they were indeed solvable. But, sorry to say, a level 1 Ryu can still mop the floor with a level 3 Cammy.
Oh yeah... you can also find a whopping five hidden characters, none of whom are Dan Hibiki. Yes, it's true... perhaps CvS' greatest flaw is that Dan, the personification of Capcom vs. SNK, is not even in the game. What else but Dan's absence signifies the sheer lack of thought that was put into this project? And where else will he inevitably turn up but Capcom vs. SNK 2, which Capcom was all too eager to announce at the Tokyo Game Show? One of these days, Capcom will learn that it's smarter to get it right the first time, instead of using the first game in the series as a beta test and releasing a fully-functional "sequel" half a year later. But that time has not come yet, and so we're made to suffer through another such transition. Those of you who are going to buy CvS no matter what I say know who you are, and honestly I can't say that I blame you. I'm just warning you: they'll eventually get it right, but not yet, and not this game.
Capcom vs. SNK: Millennium Fight 2000 copyright Capcom Co., Ltd. 2000, SNK 2000.