SNK vs. Capcom Card Fighters DS
Reviewed by Brandy Shaul
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2008-06-02 Nintendo DS Fighting T (Teen) SNK Playmore

When it comes to fan service, few franchises do it better than the SNK vs. Capcom titles. With such a large array of characters and games to choose from, it's no surprise that players should be able to find and play as / with an array of their favorite characters from years past. This tradition continues in the newest installment in the SNK vs. Capcom Card Fighters series, with a release on the DS.

SNK vs. Capcom Card Fighters DS, while a mouthful, is exactly how it sounds. You play as a young man, originally named Taiki (although you can change this early on) who is dead set on winning an upcoming card battle tournament. However, the game quickly shifts to a rescue mission when a newly formed computer system named Max decides to take over everyone within the tower complex. It's up to you to fight your way through each of the 21 floors of the complex, defeating brainwashed opponents as you go, thereby rescuing them from Max's hold.

Luckily, for players who might be beginners at card battle games, the title does offer a bit of a tutorial to help you out, but even then, it's almost easier to jump straight in to a battle as the English translations here are frequently grammatically incorrect or downright impossible to understand. One positive here however, is that your opponents in each card battle will offer little in the way of a challenge, which allows you some time to acclimate yourself to the system.

Each fighter starts with a deck of 50 cards. After rolling the dice to see who has control of the first move, each player draws a hand of 6 cards, which can be split into three general categories: character cards, action cards and counter cards. Each card is focused around a specific character from either the SNK or Capcom universe, with appearances from such famous characters as Dante and Phoenix Wright along with a multitude of fighters like Carol and Q, among many others. Altogether, there are 400 different cards available for you to use.

After drawing your hand of six cards, your next step will be to move some or all of them into the main play area by spending color-coded force points. For instance, to play the SNK card Charlotte, you would need to spend once white force point and three yellow force points, while the Capcom card Incho requires two white points and one red point.

Force points are also used when you want to take advantage of any of your characters' special moves or powers. Since force points are such an integral part of each battle, there are three ways to earn them. The first is the automatic accumulation you receive at the beginning of your turn, depending on how many cards you have in play each time. A second method requires you to move cards from your hand into the discard pile while the third method has you commanding your current in-play cards to accumulate force points instead of having them attack. However, the third method is the last one I would suggest, as attacking should be your main action on each turn.

Speaking of attacking, along with specificity in terms of force point allocation, each card also comes with specific hit points and battle points (strength). Obviously, the higher the number, the stronger the card, so keeping these numbers in mind offers a bit of strategy to the overall system.

When you choose to attack your opponent, your opponent can either defend with cards of their own, or simply allow the attack to happen. If no defense is planned, the card fighter themselves is the one who receive the damage, with hit points being taken off of their own separate hit point meter. Turn-based action continues until one player?s meter is emptied or someone runs out of cards in their deck.

While each card in play may have their own separate attributes, every card plays similarly, and since your opponents tend to focus more on stockpiling force points than on actually attacking, battles are pretty easily won. However, the ease of winning takes little away from the actual time each battle can take to complete, as your opponent will frequently guard against your attack.

After winning a battle, you receive some CP (the game's currency), which you can later use to buy more card decks and even bet on later battles. Buying new decks is the easiest way to accumulate new cards, even though you can also recycle groups of duplicates in the recycling machine in the hopes of receiving stronger cards that way.

While out of battle, you can completely customize your deck, adding and removing cards as you see fit. While you're there, you can also take a look at the game's card gallery which shows you just which cards you own, a helpful addition if you are hoping to someday find them all.

You can also use your newly received cards and CP to challenge friends over local Wi-Fi, where each player would need their own copy of the game. Or you could simply compare collections and even trade cards with others.

On the more technical side of things, the game as a whole is graphically pleasing, with bright, colorfully animated shots of each character. Since the entirety of the game grid is located on the touch screen, the cards themselves are very tiny, but the addition of close-up shots on the top screen removes any visual difficulty that there may have been otherwise. But, it's not as if the larger views on the top screen really help anyhow, as the aforementioned translational errors rear their ugly head on the cards as well.

The soundtrack here fares a bit better by offering intense, fast paced electronica tracks during battles and calming elevator music in between them. However, since individual battles can last a long time, the music does tend to become repetitive, and since the card battling action is entirely visual in nature, sound in itself isn't absolutely necessary.

In the end, true fans of the SNK vs Capcom series will probably enjoy this title more than the average gamer, as the localization here leaves a lot to be desired. However, the card battling in itself does offer a good dose of fun and even a bit of challenge to table-top card gamers that are looking for an electronic version of games they might already be playing now.

Special thanks to David Bruno and SNK Playmore for providing a copy of this title.