SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium – Review
Follow Genre: Fighting game
Developer: SNK
Publisher: SNK
Platform: Switch, Neo Geo Pocket
Tested on: Switch

SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium – Review

Site Score
8.0
Good: A surprisingly large amount of content
Bad: Analog stick controls feel inaccurate
User Score
9.7
(3 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 9.7/10 (3 votes cast)

Today we’re taking a look at a piece of video game history, with SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium. This humble fighting game doesn’t just pit iconic characters against one another, but it’s also representative of the friendly rivalry both studios had with one another. These days, the Capcom cast is probably better known for taking on Marvel characters, but back in 1999, The Match of the Millennium was where it was at. So how does the title hold up over two decades later?

Story

The full backstory is given in the game’s digital manual, with the in-game cutscenes (if you can call them that) serving as little more than a way to show off some cool sprite work. The story mode here is hidden behind the tournament campaign and sees your chosen fighter travel to various countries around the world, taking on all challengers, as Street Fighters M. Bison watches your every move closely from behind the scenes. As the series of fights grows progressively more difficult -though never quite reaching impossible levels of difficulty- you’ll eventually run into your character’s rival and then the final boss, which is either Evil Ryu or Orochi Iori. There are also good and bad endings depending on whether or not you are able to defeat the big bad. All in all, it’s a commendable effort that warrants multiple playthroughs with various characters to see all the pre-fight dialogue with their rivals, but the story itself feels more like an afterthought than a reason to pick up the game.

Graphics

This isn’t the first Neo Geo Pocket Color title to make the jump to Switch so the ubiquitous Neo Geo Pocket Color shells are present here as well, allowing you to frame the game with the handheld of your choice. You can of course turn this off and instead opt for a full-screen version of the game as well. The Match of the Millennium’s visuals hold up surprisingly well, even when blowing them up to the size of a TV, which is a testament to how well the sprites were designed. What helps here is that this is a very colorful game, and the iconic character designs from both studios really translate well into the chibi sprite work that has become the hallmark of SNK’s Neo Geo Pocket Color titles. The game itself offers a pixel-perfect representation of the handheld fighter with a consistent frame rate and very little blurriness.

Sound

Over the years, both SNK and Capcom have built up quite the library of recognizable video game music, and The Match of the Millenium happily takes these iconic tunes as background music for the fights. It’s hard not to crack a smile when a primitive version of Guile’s theme begins to play. Although the music is of course limited by the hardware -something that is common with these ports- what’s present here is fantastic. There are some sound effects present as well, of course, and these are okay.

Gameplay

As you’d expect from a game that pits SNK’s cast against Capcom’s characters, you’re looking at a classic fighting game, albeit pocket-sized. The gameplay is of course limited by the original hardware, so controlling your fighter is limited by the A and B buttons and the D-pad, although you can use the Joy-Con’s analog stick as well. Admittedly, we felt that the analog stick didn’t offer the most precise input option, and we preferred the D-pad on our Switch Pro Controller. The game makes excellent use of its limited buttons, with the attacks you perform determined by how long you press a button. Tapping attacks will deliver light punches and kicks, and longer presses allow for heavier but slower attacks. It’s a deceptively elegant system, especially given the age and the simplicity of the Neo Geo Pocket hardware.

The inclusion of the Capcom cast lends itself to a game that feels much larger than it actually is too. Right off the bat, you have access to an impressive 18 fighters, with 8 more to unlock as you play through the game’s campaign. While you’re still not looking at a title that offers up dozens of hours, The Match of the Millenium feels like a far more complete package compared to the previous Neo Geo Pocket Color titles we took a look at. Each fighter offers up a distinct move-set as well, adding a sense of variety and offering replayability. Combos and super moves are present, allowing for a sense of satisfaction and a game that requires more strategy than you’d imagine. Mindless button mashing will only get you so far here.

The main campaign, known here as the Tournament mode, can be tackled in several ways. Apart from the traditional 1 vs. 1 setup, you can opt to play it in a 3 vs. 3 team battle, allowing for variety, and a tag team mode. Then there’s Olympic mode, which sees you face a series of endurance-based challenges in the form of a series of mini-games inspired by various franchises that are represented here. These are quite varied, ranging from a reflex test to an alien shooting game. Rounding things out is the two-player mode, which allows players to duke it out on the same screen without needing a second console or a link cable. Overall, Match of the Millennium offers up a relatively packed experience

Conclusion

If we’re going to recommend picking up a single Neo Geo Pocket Color title ported to the Switch, it’s going to be this one over any others. The inclusion of the Capcom cast -which is arguably more famous than their SNK counterparts- makes for a package that appeals to a larger audience than just SNK diehards. Add a surprisingly large amount of content and tight gameplay and you’re looking at a title that is still worth adding to your collection, over 20 years after its original release.

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Rating: 9.7/10 (3 votes cast)
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SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium - Review, 9.7 out of 10 based on 3 ratings
SebastiaanRaats


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