Review by Kane
Reviewed: 09/28/01 | Updated: 02/02/03
Deeper than the pacific ocean. Nuff' said.
The Japanese limited edition of 'Capcom versus SNK 2' includes a fan disk that contains an art gallery, videos from Japanese players testing the game and saves for many Dreamcast Capcom games. Luckily, I got my hands on the limited version so I'll comment about it in the final part of my review.
Capcom's recent announcement stating that they're moving on from 2d fighters definitely means something: they believe to have approached perfection in nearly all of their series. Who could blame them? 'Capcom versus SNK 2' looks like a tribute to the genre, a compilation that any fighter fan should get because it's more than a simple update, this time.
Finally, the two worlds really collide as Capcom corrected most of the stuff that irked so many players in the first game. The company was clearly aware of the fact that the first episode was very controversial and -let's admit it- rather bland in many ways. CvS2 was hyped so much that the wait for it was terrible, and as often with the big C, I was afraid of discovering a half-assed game when I put the GD in my beloved Dreamcast. After the pathetic intro...
"Honey, can you go dump the trash?"
Four hours later, I finally resurfaced to the real world. Not being a big fan of the first episode, I wasn't expecting to be hooked instantly, but CvS2 has that something special that few games have. Everyone from the casual gamer to the "hardcore" fan will love to play it, and both will have tremendous amounts of fun with it.
Get your groove on!
CvS2's deepness makes the game more addictive than crack: much like Street Fighter Alpha 3's Isms, the game lets you choose a groove that will determine your fighting style. But it gets really interesting when you find out that each of the 6 grooves pretty much represents other series: C groove lets you play like Alpha, A groove features CCs -think Alpha 3's V-Ism-, P is for parry (Street Fighter III style, baby!), S is KOF's extra mode, and N is KOF's Advanced mode, whereas K gives you the opportunity to Just Defend and features a rage gauge, that is to say it's a hybrid between Samurai Shodown and Garou. Each groove is totally different from the other because Capcom decided to included air blocking, running, tactical recovery, short jumps...
What makes this great is that people who usually play other series can join the battle without too much trouble. What's more, it finally lets you play the fights you never even dreamed of: who wouldn't want to play Kyo with custom combos or Rock with parries? The greatest aspect of the game is probably linked with the variety of techniques I just mentioned: I have never seen a more balanced game in my whole life. Some characters are better suited for certain grooves, but there' always a counter to each character or groove. For instance, custom combos kill parries, but parries are the answer to cheesy Guile techniques. The grooves are very balanced and represent different levels of skill: C and S are very simple, N is intermediate and A, P and K take a longer time to master. My greatest fear was that one of the grooves would be broken, but I was totally wrong.
4 X 1 = 5?
You all remember the terrible ratio system that was used in the first game, don't you? Capcom has changed that, too. No more 4 character-teams that made the fights last longer than WW2. No more overpowered ratio 1s (well, almost). No more sucky ratio 3s (really).
The new system still allows you to invest your 4 ratio points as you wish, except that you can't pick more than 3 characters. Your only choices are to pick two ratio 1s and a ratio 2, one ratio 1 and a ratio 3, two ratio 2s or a ratio 4. Some characters are better in particular ratios thanks to the balanced defense and damage bonuses, which makes this game very strategic. In KOF99 fashion, you can change the order of your characters before the fight without your opponent knowing, which avoids the 'let him pick first and then pick a counter team' problems often seen in tournaments. If you're like me and don't really like the idea of ratios in the first place, you also have the opportunity to play one-on-one and three-on-three, so both Street Fighter and King of Fighters fanatics should be happy.
"The King is dead. Hail the King!"
The cast of CvS2 puts the one of its predecessor to shame. There are 44 characters that all play differently depending on the groove you chose. Capcom also got rid of the stupid EX characters and gave the characters their entire set of moves: what's incredible is that they managed to keep the game balanced! This also mean that the SNK characters can be play quite similarly to the way they are being used in their respective games, which was not the case in the first game.
Of course, all the characters from the first game are back and the new additions to the roster are quite interesting. Joe and Dan were already in the shameful pro edition. Maki plays very much like her boyfriend (who is Guy from Final Fight). Hibiki from Last Blade 2 is a powerhouse, although she has been through big changes. Yun from Street Fighter III is a bit of a mixed baged: he can't pressure as well as before but he can still be played effectively. Haohmaru has an excellent set of normals, which makes him a good R4 choice. Kyosuke is awkward, but very fun to use with his textbook combos from Rival Schools. Eagle, taken straight from the first Street Fighter game, looks like he's got potential thanks to his multi-hit moves. Even Art of Fighting is represented with the veteran Todo -KOF's Kasumi's father, in case you didn't know-, and his strength was a huge surprise to me. Rock Howard rocks, as usual. I was also very pleased with the way they handled Athena's conversion: she's very fun to use. Rolento plays exactly like his Alpha 3 self, and Chang always uses Choi (aka Freddy Krugger) as a shield. Funny stuff.
While the cast seems awesome at first, there's no denial that Capcom could have included even more characters. There's no excuse for leaving out emblematic characters such as Andy Bogard, Fei Long, Clark or Leona: actually, they should have been in the first game. Even though the deepness of the game more than makes up for this terrible mistake, people who are expecting a plethora of new characters might be disappointed.
The controls are, simply put, perfect. The biggest news is that the 6-button layout is back! You can finally use your usual tactics with the Capcom characters! To make things even, the SNK characters were given medium attacks as well: while it might seem weird at first sight, it appears that they never played better!
The priority of many moves has been revised and it seems harder to snuff supers. All of them are very easy to pull off, even on that god-awful Dreamcast controller. Third Strike fans might have a hard time getting used to the new parry timing since it's rather different: both parry and follow-up windows are now much shorter, but after some practice that problem disappears. They also weakened Nakoruru and Ryu's Shin Shoryuken, which obviously is good news.
Gameplay-wise, CvS2 is arguably the best game I've ever played. But while the rest of the game is very solid, Capcom committed small mistakes that could easily have been avoided, thus ruining the game's chances to become the best fighter ever. Shame on them...
"Mirror, mirror, tell me who is the slickest..."
The graphics are excellent for the most part: the new characters are very detailed and their animation, without attaining SFIII/Garou heights, it still more than decent. Besides, don't forget that you can change the speed of the game! CvS2 shares with its prequel the amazing quality of its 3d backgrounds, although there could have been more. Numerous characters created by both companies make cameo appearances in original places, but more importantly they all look very lively. The art is also very nice except for a few exceptions, and if you were lucky enough to get the fan disk with the game -meaning that your copy was from the first shipment-, you will be glad to learn that it contains an art gallery.
Alas, even though Chun-Li's new look is almost as stunning as her SFIII appearance, she is the only character who got a makeover. The terrible Alpha character models are still here and obviously show their age even more than last year. Sagat, Blanka and Gief look like crap. And don't even get me started on Morrigan's sprite. This is where Capcom's legendary laziness shows: a Rock versus E. Honda fight looks like a poor cut and paste job made by a 10-year old. While this plague doesn't make the whole game look bad, it sometimes affects the nice atmosphere created by the dynamic presentation of the game.
Capco---Keep rocking baby!"
A common issue in most Capcom games is the announcer: to some extent, this game is no exception to the rule. He keeps talking all the time, and I mean all. At the title screen, the character select screen, the groove select screen, before the fight, during the fight, after the fight... Ugh. While his comments are interesting in general and his voice is heaps ahead the Alpha 3 announcer, he just talks way too much. Things can get hilarious when you don't let him finish his speeches, though.
However, the character's voices are crystal clear, especially for the new characters. The sound effects are pretty cool, but what really sets the tone of the game is the music: it's a lot better than in CvS. Without ever making themselves too loud, its techno beats match the rhythm of the hits in a frenzy reminiscent of a Mozart symphony, or something like that. Granted, the music won't please everyone, but I have to say I simply fell in love with it. Go figure.
On a side note, you might notice familiar tunes while playing the fan disk: yes indeed, it contains intact tunes from different games including the original Street Fighter 2 and Third Strike. Neat.
"You don't like the engine? Create your own game, son!"
If you like fighting games, CvS2 should keep you busy for a very long time, granted that you don't just play them to unlock hidden characters. Yes indeed, the game doesn't have many secrets: you can unlock the two bosses -who look pretty cool but are only powered up versions of Gouki and Rugal, sadly-. But this game has the ultimate extra option: it lets you create your own groove and customize the engine, similarly to Third Strike. One cannot stress enough on the importance of this feature...
"Capcom versus SNK 2 is deeper than the sea, faster than the leopard and funnier than the orangutan. It is a natural law that the men play it while the women are cooking the dinner."
CvS2 is so complete and deep that it's literally impossible to master it entirely. As a matter of fact, the variety it showcases makes it the perfect tournament game. Saying that this is one of Capcom's most polished games wouldn't be taking much risk. Capcom is known for desperately milking its series, but this game is so much more than a simple update: it's the ultimate 2d fighter. This game is Capcom's gift for the Dreamcast's farewell party. To be blunt and honest, not buying it should be considered a crime.
Capcom Fan Disk
The Fan Disk is an excellent idea that further proves Capcom's intention to thank their fans. The majority of the videos are very impressive: they show you how to play the game well and are a nice demonstration of what you can do with some practice. The drawback is that to view the videos you have to save them on your memory card -of course, they take a lot of space- and then use the game's replay mode. Juggling between the GDs and not being able to keep all the videos on a standard VMU is not fun, but it's worth it.
The art galleries are quality but I wish they had included more artworks. I liked how it contained SNK art as well, though. Finally, the saves are useful for the people who didn't bother unlocking all the secrets on their Capcom games before, but how many people are in this case? The only games I can think of that were forgotten are Vampire Chronicle and Capcom versus SNK Pro. In other words, this Fan Disk a worthy addition. If only they had printed more copies...
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
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