SVC Chaos: SNK vs. Capcom Import Impressions

We check out SNK Playmore's crossover brawler for the PlayStation 2.

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SVC Chaos: SNK vs. Capcom is SNK Playmore's entry in the fighting series started by Capcom in 2000, and it pits popular characters from the Capcom and SNK franchises against one another in the mother of all 2D brawlers. The game was originally released in arcades last year, and a conversion has recently hit the PlayStation 2 in Japan. We spent some time with the import to see how the conversion turned out.

The PS2 port of SNK vs. Capcom has four game modes to choose from: arcade, versus, practice, and survival. Arcade mode lets you go through the game in the original arcade format and check out the various characters endings. Versus mode lets you take on a friend, though unfortunately the game doesn't have a network option to play against other people online. Practice mode lets you hone your skills by fighting against a computer dummy. Survival mode pits you against waves of enemies to see how far you can get with limited health. You'll also find a gallery mode featuring a variety of artwork that you can unlock by playing through survival mode. However, nothing is really eye-popping, since all the illustrations were taken from the artwork used in the game's promotion, which is available at the game's official site. There is also an options menu that lets you tweak the game's difficulty level and other settings, such as autosave, controller vibration, and the volume of the game's background music. One of the most useful options lets you lengthen the controller input timing for special moves so that executing special moves is a little easier.

The roster of characters in the PS2 edition of SNK vs. Capcom is fundamentally the same as in the arcade version. By default, there are 12 SNK characters, including Kim Kaphwan, Terry Bogard, Mai Shiranui, and Kyo Kusanagi, and 12 Capcom characters, which include favorites such as Ryu, Ken, M. Bison, Guile, Sagat, and Chun-Li. There are also eight midbosses, such as Demitri from Darkstalkers and Geese Howard from Fatal Fury, which you can choose by holding the R1 button in the character select screen. Although the midbosses were available in the arcade version as well, the PS2 version lets you use the end bosses and the two bonus bosses. The end bosses--Shin Gouki and a powered-up version of Mr. Karate--are available from the start, together with the midbosses. The two bonus bosses--Athena from SNK and Red Arremer from Capcom--can be unlocked after you beat all the characters in the game's roster in the survival mode.

The gameplay in SVC Chaos: SNK vs. Capcom, for better or worse, stays true to its arcade counterpart. It doesn't appear that any changes have been made to the game system or hit detections. Unfortunately, the PS2 port also retains some of the problems that were in the arcade game: the deliberate timing, the poorly tuned feeling of the Street Fighter characters' attacks, and the sketchy controls for moves that require a directional charge such as Guile's sonic boom and somersault kick.

In general, the presentation in the PS2 conversion is similar to its arcade counterpart. The characters are detailed and well drawn, and they don't seem to be missing any frames of animation. However, you'll find that some elements of the visuals take advantage of the PS2 hardware. For example, the projectiles and some special effects use semitransparent effects, and the fonts in the dialogue scenes are smoother in comparison to those in the arcade. Most noticeably, the character portraits used in the prefight scenes are drawn with a higher resolution than those in the arcade. The minor graphical tweaks are all positive changes to the game, but players who want to keep it real and experience the full arcade atmosphere can change the graphics back to the original NeoGeo style through a setting in the options menu. In either mode, the game takes only about one second to load between each stage, which is pleasantly fast. The audio and music are identical to what you hear in the arcade version, and they serve up a good assortment of familiar voices and solid tunes.

Overall, SVC Chaos: SNK vs. Capcom is a good warts-and-all conversion of the arcade game for the PlayStation 2. It contains a solid assortment of extra modes and a fair amount of extra content. The visuals look good, and the PS2-centric tweaks are welcome. It would have been nice to see something similar done for the gameplay, although the ability to lengthen the input timing for moves is a definite enhancement. As with most import fighting games, you don't have to be fluent in Japanese to get through SVC Chaos: SNK vs. Capcom. However, considering that the game is due out next month in the US, you may want to hold off on importing it. SVC Chaos: SNK vs. Capcom is currently slated to ship this February for the PlayStation 2. Look for more on the game in the coming weeks.

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