Other than the original NES and Sega consoles, my initial love for Japanese video games growing up came from Neo Geo arcades. While I never had a Neo Geo nor knew anyone who did (I mean, did you?), at the time it appeared and felt a helluva lot more powerful than the aforementioned systems. At $650 f’n bucks, the Neo Geo home console felt rare, important, substantial and international. It was something fresh, freaky and something I never imagined playing 30-years later on a handheld Nintendo device. But a Neo Geo Pocket Color?
I somehow missed that one.
And as much as the fight game aficionado I am these days, I never heard of SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium. Yes, of course, I heard of Capcom vs. SNK Pro, the Japanese arcade (and Dreamcast) fighter I only wish I stumbled upon a year ago in Tokyo. Ha, maybe I did and didn’t realize it. That said, The Match of the Millennium (no; not Kenny Omega vs. Kazuchika Okada III) is the non-card-based O.G. squabble between the two fight game publishing powerhouses, and complete with classic 16-bit character sprites. My initial reaction was polarizing, to say the least, but it didn’t take long to warm up this way cute, yet way deeper than expected 2D fighter.
In short, SNK vs. Capcom‘s the adorbs, far more Pokémon/anime tuned version of Street Fighter II meets King of Fighters ’98. While not as hardcore as those scrappers due to the limited space on the screen (I mean.. it’s a 1-to-1 rip of this Neo Geo Pocket Color thing), the limited length of the rounds/energy damage (sans SFII Turbo, of course), and the limited character detail (albeit highly impressive for 16-bit), the game is far deeper and more technical than I imagined. Most fighting games this cute — think SNK Heroines or Blade Strangers — have nowhere near the precise attack commands as SNK vs. Capcom. Despite being a 2-button handheld fighter, I can promise that the digital manual provided is sure to come in handy.
Of course, this wouldn’t be a delicious Capcom, or SNK, fighter without all the wonderful music. Most of your fav SF themes of yesteryear are included and randomized to your pleasure–just recreated in all the 16-bit glory. Characters pop off the Pocket color with splendid animations and each feels as unique to this battle as they first did in the arcades. If you played a ton of classic KoF or Street Fighter Alpha, you’ll recognize the double “hadouken” input plus A for the flashy screen finishers. Hell, most of the Capcom roster rather unsurprisingly consists of Street Fighter legends, with a sprinkle of Darkstalkers; while SNK’s side is more or less all Fatal Fury and King of Fighters competitors, with a slice of Samurai Showdown and a smidgeon of Art of Fighting/The Last Blade.
In all, while not quite the match of this millennium, this Pocket Color redux on the Switch is a fun, maybe even surprisingly fun, casual fighter worth your barstool buddy co-op time. Just.. don’t forget to use the zoom-in option. 3.5/5 Bibles.