Capcom vs. SNK 2: Mark of the Millenium 2001
In the age of 3D fighting games, 2D sprite based fighting games are losing ground steadily. Ever since the heady days of Fatal Fury, sprite fighters have controlled a viable niche within the arcade and console market. With the arrival of more powerful technology, these games began to lose ground, first to titles like Virtua Fighter and later to the popular Soul Blade and Soul Calibur games. Using a traditional 2D animation style, these games lacked the sophisticated 3D graphics and realistic movement that other games had to offer. However, if you were ever a fan of Street Fighter and its many incarnations, you can certainly attest to how addictive they were.and
is one of the latest 2D fighters, second in the line. These series of games feature characters from many different Capcom and SNK games, as well as offering a wide range of gameplay styles with which to control your character. Advance through the Arcade mode, a perfect translation of the Capcom vs. SNK 2 arcade game, and you'll not only unlock a few hidden characters, but you'll also be able to facedown boss characters that present a significant challenge. There's also a Survival mode that lets you try your wits against a long-term survival match, playing the same character facing many different enemies, one after another, without a chance to rest. These two modes form the core of the game and, aside from the versus mode when you want to play a friend, you'll find most of your time spent fighting in these modes.
There's a complete set of fighters, with forty-six characters before you unlock bosses and secret characters by defeating the arcade mode. Each and every character has his or her own fighting style, from the lightning fast kicks of Chun-Li to the street brawling martial arts of Rock. Easily the best part of the game, the sheer amount of choice you have for your given fighter is amazing. As you've probably already guessed, Capcom vs. SNK 2 features characters from both the Capcom and SNK universe of games. Many of these characters are from the different arcade titles that both Capcom and SNK make, with the full host of Street Fighter characters and even fighters from.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
First off, the interface is somewhat lacking. An extremely simple set of diamonds form the main menu and the traditionally rough-looking Capcom fonts are used for the text. All you need do is choose an Arcade style competition or a versus match and then select your fighter. Each fighter has a small picture that lets you see who you're choosing, but there's no animation or detail to let you know what he or she will really look like. You'll need to play through with each character to get a good idea of who they are and what they can do.
You've played fighting games before, right? This one is no exception to the standard. You've got heavy, medium, and light attacks, both punches and kicks as well as throws and special moves that you can perform with a deft turn of the wrist and a quick button mash. The PlayStation 2 Dual Shock 2 controller doesn't exactly excel at this, as it only has four buttons at your thumb requiring you to bind attacks to the L and R buttons at the top of the gamepad.
Again, like all sprite fighters, all of your action takes place on a relatively large stage, where you'll move left and right, toward and away from your opponent. With no such thing as dodging, like in a 3D fighter, this means that you'll need to focus a lot more on your style of attack, as well as how to defend from your opponent's attacks. You can hold away from the opponent to block their attacks, although you can only block high or low at any one given time, leaving you open to attack from a different angle.
Now that the history lesson is over, we'll move on to the real change between this game and the rest. Like the first Capcom vs. SNK, you've got a groove system. The groove system lets you choose between different play styles that you can experiment with, altering the way you gain energy for your super combo meter and what kind of extra optional moves you can perform. Depending on which groove you pick, as there are six different grooves as compared to only two in the first Capcom vs. SNK, you'll get a radically different fight experience. If you can't learn to adjust to the different strategies required to use each groove, you won't be able to excel at this game. Some of the special moves that the different grooves give you are things like dash, counter-attack, and small jump.
This game is designed for multiplayer. Versus fighting is one of the best reasons to play games like this and being able to duke it out with other people can be a great way to lose friends and gain enemies. Given the choice of characters and fighting styles, CvS2 handles this part of the game really well, as the many and varied choices give you plenty of different options to exercise while playing the game.
On each stage there are two things you'll want to pay attention to, at least as graphics go. First things first, the backgrounds in this game are gorgeous. Fully 3D, they're very animated and change as you play through your fight. On one of the desert stages, you'll see a rally car jump over your head after coming off a big ramp. In the middle of the arctic, you'll see a large cargo vessel open up and disgorge a great number of colorful banners. These backgrounds are just as colorful and attention grabbing as the backgrounds in any other fighting game.
Sadly though, the sprite action that is going on in the foreground isn't up to the same quality. The fighters themselves are drawn in a traditional 2D format, similar to what you've seen in Street Fighter, and seem to have the same low-res detail that was seen at the advent of these games. With the higher resolutions supported by the PS2, and the graphics quality exhibited by titles like Guilty Gear X (another PS2 2D fighter), I really expected more from _CvS2. It's nice that the characters move like fluid with no animation slowdown, but I really wanted characters that were nice to look at too.
Nothing innovative here. The background music isn't annoying, which is saying a lot for games like this, and the announcer rarely gets in the way. I must admit though, I found it extremely amusing to hear catch-phrases like 'You must crush them!' and 'Live and let die!'? screamed before a match. Sure, they might get bothersome after the hundredth game you've played, but they're still amusing to listen to.
Originality / Cool Features
Like nearly all sprite fighters, CvS2 has a lot of hidden features that you can unlock. Bosses, new colors to paint your fighter with, and even a special Groove Edit Mode, which allows you to mix and match the various special features that let you customize your special meter and play style. All in all, you'll need to beat the game in arcade mode a few times, as well as go through survival a lot, to unlock it all. But once you have, it's well worth it.
Ultimately, there's a lot behind CvS2 that I just don't have the room to write about. There's a ratio mode that lets you increase and decrease the power level of your fighters to give some variety in a three-on-three two-player match. A color edit mode lets you change the appearance of your fighter. And the list goes on. With a game that only has one gameplay feature, 2D fighting, the extra features that you've got to rely on once you've beaten CvS2 a few times can really add to the game's replayability. In this title, you've got more than enough options to keep you entertained, including an innovative gameplay addition in the form of the groove modes. Still, given the graphics power of the PS2, the thing I found myself wanting the most were high quality character animations. CvS2 often looks just like the same old sprite fighters we've seen over the last few years, and this graphical element really serves to reduce my interest in it.
Still, as far as party games and versus fighters go, CvS2 has some really strong gameplay elements that should give you hours of fun, if you're a fan of fighting games.