SNK vs Capcom: Card Fighters’ Clash review for Nintendo Switch

Platform: Nintendo Switch
Publisher: SNK
Developer: SNK/Code Mystics
Medium: Digital
Players: 1-2
Online: No

If you were to ask me to present my Neo Geo Pocket Color, the cartridge you would find would not be one of the numerous fighting games available on the portable, but rather a collectible card game. SNK vs Capcom: Card Fighters’ Clash is a title which saw a lot of playtime whenever the plucky portable was in use. So when SNK dropped a Neo Geo Pocket Selection port of the title on the Nintendo Switch without fanfare, I leapt out of my seat, thanking whatever deity that might be listening.

Card Fighters’ Clash for the uninitiated is a collectible card game featuring 300 character/action cards which can be used to construct a 50 card deck. Players can summon up to 3 characters at a time to do battle with a single opponent. The first player to deplete their opponent’s HP is declared the winner. The story mode has you take control of one of two characters as you try to earn six coins to make them eligible to challenge the league champions. It’s pretty much Pokémon with cards. As you beat players, you will randomly earn 3 to 5 cards which you can swap in and out to bolster your deck’s strength. CFC also cribbed the Pokémon formula by releasing two versions, one for SNK and one for Capcom. Each version featured cards exclusive to it’s version and for a player to get a complete card collection, you’ll need to find a friend with the other version.

Those who have seen or owned any of the Neo Geo Pocket Color Selection titles should be familiar with features that are packed in these ports. Visual filters, console skins, digital manual, rewind and multi-region versions of the title are present. In a very pro-consumer move, both the SNK and Capcom versions are included, so for the price of $7.99 you are getting 4 versions of the game. For games which offered link play, a seldom used feature of the NGPC (you try tracking down a link cable for that thing without paying a mint), Neo Geo Pocket Color Selection titles offered single screen split screen. For fighting games, it makes the Switch tablet an impromptu cocktail cabinet, for docked machines it looks like a 3D image with no 3D, however for a card game this set up isn’t exactly the best way to do it. Part of playing a collectible card game is planning your moves without revealing your hand to your opponent, which this multiplayer setup completely invalidates.

Another stinger is the versus mode essentially sets up a mirror match of whatever deck you have equipped, meaning you will never take on any of your friend’s or stranger’s decks. I will give kudos to the devs of this port for enabling trading between the 2 versions of the game, which means you can get a complete card collection. Although it will involve the player having to play through both versions themselves to get the cards required to make the trades necessary. This game’s save is still usable to unlock characters in SNK vs Capcom: Match of the Millennium, so it means there is an easier method to unlock all the characters/moves in the game (Yes, getting a full 300 card collection in Card Fighters’ Clash is EASIER than whatever unlocking system that was implemented in Match of the Millennium).

Dropping the ball on versus play aside, having this port available means a larger audience will be able to experience the joys I did those many years ago. My timeless strategy of locking down my opponent’s characters to 100 HP, keeping the opponent’s SP low while waiting to initiate one devastating union attack to end the match still works and I’ll continue to employ it until I collect all 300 cards in this version. I just hope that SNK will find it worthwhile to adjust the Versus play so that you can actually play against other humans and whatever deck they’ve assembled rather than facing a doppelganger deck with another person doling out the strategy. Perhaps when the inevitable PC port of this comes out, some ingenious modder will be able to accomplish this task. Until then it looks like a new challenger has arrived to constantly drain my Switch’s battery and I can safely put away my Neo Geo Pocket Color(which is a shame since I just got an IPS screen put into it)! SNK vs Capcom: Card Fighters’ Clash is available on the Nintendo eShop for $7.99.

Note: SNK provided us with a SNK vs Capcom: Card Fighters’ Clash Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: B