Capcom vs. SNK 2 (PS2) Review

CvsSNK2

While I was looking across the review sections of this blog that have “Coming Soon!” in them, I was surprised to see I haven’t reviewed a PS2 title yet. I guess that comes from most of the big PS2 games I own being parts of series I want to cover from the first entry onwards… ANYWAY, I thought I’d stick a review of probably my favourite fighting game of all time up and fix that black space with ease. Capcom vs. SNK 2 is frankly brilliant, its mechanics, looks, menu presentation, roster, modes… just everything. Perfection. Let’s take a look!

Background:

CvsSNK2 1

Look at that roster screen, so nicely designed… shame about the SNK artstyle being chosen…

Capcom vs. SNK 2: Mark of the Millennium 2001, to give it its full title, was first released in Arcades in August 2001, followed by a Japanese home port for the PS2 and Dreamcast in September of the same year. In North America and Europe, only the PS2 port was released, in November 2001 (on the 6th and 30th, respectively). Gamecube and Original XBOX ports were released in Japan, the US and Europe in July, August and September 2003, respectively, while PS Network digital ports were made available in the mid-2010s.

The game is, unsurprisingly, a sequel to Capcom vs. SNK: Millennium Fight 2000, though that game was Capcom making a game similar to the King of Fighters four-button system, where is CvS2 is very much a Capcom, Street Fighter II six-button affair at heart…

Gameplay:

CvsSNK2 5

Battle of the poster boys!

I won’t bother explaining how a traditional 2D fighter plays like (light, medium and heavy strikes, pushing away from your opponent to block, jumps, special moves, super moves, etc…) but this is a really smooth and excellent example of one.

As I said in the background, at its core Capcom vs. SNK 2 plays like Street Fighter (Alpha, specifically), but the great thing is that when you select your fighter/fighters you get to choose between six “Grooves” that emulate different game styles, like a Groove that has Street Fighter III’s parry system, or a Groove that gives you a Samurai Showdown-like rage system instead of a traditional Super Meter. Combining this with the Ratio system, where you can pick up to three people on your team, with each person getting weaker the bigger the team (in other words, a team of two will have stronger fighters than a team of three, but with the caveat that they’ll lose in two losses rather than three) and you have lots of options and variety in just gameplay alone, that’s not even mentioning the variety of modes…

You have arcade mode, both with ratios or 3v3 only, or even 1v1 only, you have Survival, Training, you can save replays and even do some colour editing of the sprites. There’s plenty to keep you busy, especially when you factor in the roster of 48 characters from not just Street Fighter and King of Fighters, but series such as Samurai Showdown, Garou: Mark of the Wolves and even Rival Schools (previously only a 3D fighter!).

There are a few secret modes as well, a “Boss Battle” Arcade path where you fight five boss level opponents, and a Groove Edit mode, where you can create your own Groove by blending different parts of the six available to suit your own style.

Graphics and Sound:

CvsSNK2 3

Battle of the Poster Boys’ rivals! (friendly and unfriendly, respectively…)

While some of the sprite miss-matches are obvious, for the most part the whole roster looks nice, with smooth 2D combat with decent 3D backdrops. I do enjoy the selection of artwork for every character, one in traditional 2D drawn style like most Capcom fighters, and one in that weird sort-of CG-looking basic art style found in a lot of SNK games, with each one appearing depending on whether you selected a Capcom Groove or an SNK Groove. It’s a nice touch. I really like the menu and UI in the game as well.

The background music is very ear-pleasing, with the British stage having an extremely catchy song about “Is this true love we’re makin’” which will, without a doubt, get stuck in your head for some time after playing… Voice samples for character and sound effects are really good too.

Story:

CvsSNK2 4

Battle of the headband-wearing school girls!

Not much to talk about, there is no real narrative beyond everyone being in some big tournament, and then you get one of four bosses depending on how well you do, and other factors. Either Akuma, Shin Akuma, Rugal or God Rugal will be your bosses, with Geese and M. Bison appearing as sub-bosses (though I only remember Geese, really…)

Thoughts Then:

CvsSNK2 6

Battle of… Maki and Haohmaru…

I hadn’t played much of the SNK fighters when I picked this up in 03/04. I remember playing KOF 94 on the PS1 after renting it out from Blockbuster, but that was it really. I soon fell in love with a lot of the SNK characters thanks to the game being so much fun to play, leading into buying some of the PS2 KOF collections shortly afterwards. Capcom vs. SNK 2 was my go-to 2D fighter for many years, only stopping when I packed my PS2 away to save space. People always talk about Marvel vs. Capcom 2, but this was my favourite crossover fighter (though I did like MvC2 as well…)

5 Star Game Old

Thoughts Now:

CvsSNK2 2

This was my attempt at screenshoting an emulation, note not just the blurry-ness, but the lack of pictures in the health bars… Oh well, maybe one day I’ll get the means to take screenshots from the actual consoles… (modern era not included thanks to the heavenly screenshot buttons!)

Unsurprisingly, given it’s a 2D fighter by Capcom, it hasn’t aged a day. It’s still extremely satisfying to play, very fun and lots to do even for your 100th run. Sure the 3D backgrounds looks a little worse for wear (why didn’t they just do traditional 2D ones?) but I can’t knock the game, it’s just as great as it was 15 years ago.

5 Star Game New

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