While importers all over the country have been enjoying the fruit of Capcom and SNK's collaboration for more than a month now, those not so blessed are doubtlessly awaiting the game's domestic release. Though it needn't be reiterated that Capcom has indeed released a winner, despite a few minor inconsistencies, our recent experience with a fully translated US build of the game reinforces our enthusiasm.
For those unfamiliar with the game's premise, it's about the popular characters from both Capcom and SNK's fighting series duking it out, literally making good on the boasts of fans the world over. A strong rivalry exists between fans of both companies' fighters, and this, partly, is what makes Capcom vs. SNK such an exciting game. What's even more exciting, however, is that the game faithfully captures both series' fighting styles and includes all the elements - from the supermeters to the control scheme - with a sort of cross functionality, which caters equally to fans of both camps.
The game features 33 fighters, 28 of which are open from outset. The roster is divided equally between fighters of both pantheons, and the mainstays of both camps are represented. While there are no glaring omissions from the popular rosters, some second-string characters have been passed over, and their fans will no doubt wince at their absence.
The game's fighting system lends the battles a fast-paced, yet often strangely deliberate, flavor. Think halfway between the Alpha and SFIII series, in terms of pacing, and you'll be on the right track. Air blocks and juggles are out, and guard-crushes aren't as prevalent, when compared to the Alpha series, and many of the combos have a nicely complex, markedly SNK-fighter feel to them.
Supermoves are handled most interestingly. When battles commence, you're made to choose between SNK and Capcom "grooves." Capcom groove causes your character's supermeter to behave much like it did in the Alpha series, while SNK groove's mechanics resemble those of the company's early King of Fighters games. SNK groove, for the most part, comes off as a bit more powerful. When you use it, you're able to manually charge your supermeter, granting you a higher level of strategic access to your most damaging attacks. Furthermore, when your energy is low, your character goes into "desperation mode," which grants him or her unregulated access to supermoves. Envision an already powerful character - Capcom's Akuma, for instance - spewing out a never-ending flurry of his intimidating supers, and the power SNK groove will become clear.
It's safe to say that Capcom vs. SNK is shaping up nicely for its North American release. Aside from the nixed network mode (which, judging from accounts from Japan, isn't much of a loss) and some English text, the game we're getting is pretty much identical to what's been available in Japan for more than a month now. Check out our import review of the game, and keep your eyes peeled for a domestic update come November 1.