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Game Over Online ~ SVC Chaos: SNK vs. Capcom

GameOver Game Reviews - SVC Chaos: SNK vs. Capcom (c) SNK NEOGEO, Reviewed by - Thomas Wilde

Game & Publisher SVC Chaos: SNK vs. Capcom (c) SNK NEOGEO
System Requirements Xbox
Overall Rating 69%
Date Published Friday, November 5th, 2004 at 10:20 PM

Divider Left By: Thomas Wilde Divider Right

The good news is that SNK is back in action, and if they play their cards right, they won't be going away again anytime soon.

The bad news is that SVC Chaos, the fourth game in the series of crossovers between Japan's two leading 2D fighting franchises, isn't all that great. It's not that bad, but it's not all that great.

With the exception of the superlative Mark of the Millennium on the Neo Geo Pocket Color, all of the Capcom/SNK crossover games have had the same basic issue: they were apparently made to be extremely cool crossovers first, and genuinely playable fighting games second.

To be fair, they are all extremely cool crossovers. While SNK hasn't penetrated the North American market as thoroughly as Capcom has, the serious fighter fans--the guys who follow the results at Evolution and who know what "Shotoclones" or "meaty attacks" or "kara-throws" are--were talking about dream matches like this for a long time.

It still seems vaguely surreal to boot up a legitimately available piece of commercial software and find Terry Bogard and Ryu in the same game. For the serious Street Fighter and/or King of Fighters fans, it's like Marvel vs. DC - The Fighting Game.

SVC Chaos is, like the Capcom vs. SNK games, a simple and boldly plotless dream match. It's got a few endings, and each match in story mode is introduced by unique dialogue between characters, but that's about it.

The character selection itself ranges from the obvious--Ryu, Ken, Terry, Kyo, Mai, Chun-Li, Iori, Guile, Dhalsim, Akuma, Kim, Ryo--to the obscure, such as Earthquake, who hasn't been in a game since Samurai Shodown II, and Tessa, also known as Tabasa, from the Capcom fighter Warzard. (Tessa's kind of an interesting case, really; she's better-known from her cameo appearances in other games than she is from the game where she first appeared.) The roster's a bit sparse, especially when compared to an average KOF, but it's decent.

Unlike the multitude of team options and groove selects that CvS2 offered, SNK vs. Capcom is a little like the Real Bout Fatal Fury games, with one-on-one matches and a single style of play. Each character comes equipped with a double-layered lifebar and a three-tiered super meter, the latter of which fills up when you attack.

There's one real quirk to SVC that makes it play differently than other one-on-one fighters, and that's the Guard Cancel system. While you're blocking, you can burn a level of super meter to instantly counterattack. It adds a layer of strategy to the game, but it's not the most elegantly implemented mechanic in the world.

I'm going to get a bit arcane here for a second. In every fighting game since Street Fighter II, there've been moves that're characterized by their risk-reward ratio. Think of it like Ryu's Dragon Punch; if it connects, it'll knock the other guy into next week, but if you miss, they'll have a window of opportunity in which they can do just about anything they want to you. I'm sure you know what I mean.

The problem with the Guard Cancel system is that it means every move in the game is high-risk as long as you're attacking somebody who's got meter to spend. You can win with relative ease as long as you never use a super, and just Guard Cancel all day. The best way to get your money's worth from SvC Chaos is to simply avoid using GCs whenever you can.

If you do that, you'll find the rest of the game is a lot of fun in a classic sort of way. SVC doesn't have a lot of the accumulated baggage that either Street Fighter or King of Fighters has wound up with over the years, like custom combos, Alpha Counters, Armor Mode, or Strikers.

The only real innovations that've snuck into the game, of the host of options that'd been introduced in either series, are the Guard Crush meter, forward and backward dashing, breakfalls, and taunts. In other words, what you've got here are the basic bread-and-butter elements of a modern 2D fighter, and very little else.

It doesn't hurt that SVC Chaos is the second-to-last game ever made for the ancient Neo Geo hardware, so it's not wildly visually dissimilar to the last couple of KOF games.

Unfortunately, this isn't 1997, so several of SVC Chaos's glitches make it feel dated rather than a nostalgia trip. The collision detection is wonky, especially with fireballs; it's possible for a Hadoken or similar move to miss at point-blank range, because the move's hitbox starts far enough away from the character that it'll wind up behind your opponent.

SVC Chaos also boasts some screwed-up character balance, where four characters--Geese, Zero, Iori, and Chun-Li--can pretty much own the rest of the cast for free, and the single worst case of the infamous SNK Boss Syndrome that I've ever seen. Getting to the end of singleplayer mode involves running a gauntlet of mid-bosses and bosses that'll turn your hair white, especially Goddess Athena and Red Arremer.

SNK really should know better than this by now, since they've been making fighting games more or less exclusively since the mid-nineties. SVC Chaos is one of the most aggressively mediocre games they've ever put out, coupled with equally mediocre representation on Xbox Live. (I like the lobby system, but why can't two players have more than one match at a time?) If you're a big fan of 2D fighters, you'd do better to save your money for the upcoming KOF ports or Street Fighter Anniversary Collection.


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