SNK NeoGeo has begun beta-testing its upcoming arcade release, SNK vs. Capcom, in four regions of Japan. The following is a first impression of the game.
Attacking in SNK vs. Capcom requires the use of the joystick and four buttons, which fans of SNK's fighting games should have no trouble adapting to. The game does not adopt the six-button format used in Capcom's fighting games, but you can still pull off a few of the Capcom characters' middle attacks by holding on to a specific controller direction when pressing a button. Each round in the game tends to be long, since the players have a doubled life meter in the style of the NeoGeo game The Last Blade--in fact, it was not rare for rounds to end with a time over. In addition, each match features a unique conversation between the two characters involved, adding a little more personality to the game's characters.
In terms of graphics, SNK vs. Capcom uses SNK character sprite graphics from the King of Fighters series, including some minor details such as their time-over motions. In fact, the game looks much like a new KOF title when only the SNK characters are on the screen. The Capcom characters are mostly redrawn and are pretty well done, with animation taken from some of the older Capcom fighting games. For example, Chun Li's basic attack motions are from Capcom vs. SNK 2, and her projectiles come out in Street Fighter 3 style or Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo style, depending on the attack strength.
Admittedly, the sizes of the characters in SNK vs. Capcom are a bit unorganized. Tabasa looks larger than Iori, while Genjuro looks more muscular than Sagat. It's also worth noting that Hugo is probably one of the largest characters in fighting game history. But none of the characters look out of place in the game, and their sprites are well drawn and animated. SNK vs. Capcom's graphics have one flaw, though, which is that--aside from a few exceptions--the characters do not look all that new since their movements have been seen in previously released fighting games. This includes some of the more detailed aspects of the game, such as M. Bison's taunt, in which he takes off his cap and fixes his hair, which is almost identical to what he does in Capcom vs. SNK. However, that's not to say that the game's graphics are bland--there are many interesting points to the graphics in SNK vs. Capcom. Dhalsim's movements are rubbery and well animated, the Capcom characters now have additional losing poses where they lay down facing the ground, and Shiki has made a good transition from a 3D polygon model to a 2D sprite.
In terms of gameplay, both SNK and Capcom fans will likely need to take some time to learn the game. You will quickly find out that the game does not play identically to a KOF title, despite its similar graphics. There is no rolling in the game to go forward through the opponent's attacks, and there are no short jumps to pressure the opponent. Instead, the main method of attacking--aside from jumping--is to use the front ground step, which is just a fancy name for sliding forward, Real Bout Fatal Fury style.
Moves can be pulled off at any time during the slide, which makes it easy to pressure opponents by consistently sliding forward and poking them with normal attacks. The game's power meter rises quickly for aggressive players, and the meter can be used to execute super attacks and guard cancels. There is also a move called the exceed attack, which can be executed only once per opponent and only in situations. Basic combinations that the Capcom characters have in their original games seem to work in this game, and combinations from KOF seem to work for the SNK characters. The back-stepping move does not seem to be invincible in SNK vs. Capcom, which may be SNK NeoGeo's way of persuading players to be aggressive and not turtle around in the game.
SNK vs. Capcom is scheduled for release next month in Japan.