Inside Pulse 12

Retrograding 11.14.03

Right. By the time you read this I will have become completely and utterly addicted to SVC Chaos for my Neo-Geo. As of right now, I’ve pried myself away to write this week’s column.

I will say this: It is broken. Horribly broken. Some characters are too powerful. Some are pathetic. You can counter damn near everything and there are lots of invincibility frames. It is frustrating and aggravating as hell.

AND I LOVE IT!

My god! It’s like SF2 all over again for me. Do any of you even remember when SF2 came out? Half the fun was finding broken shit. Like redizzy combos! 90% damage combos! The frames where your character couldn’t be hurt. SF2 was as addicting because you truly had to MASTER the game to be great at it.

So too with SVC Chaos. Everyone’s unlocked from the get-go, including Shin Akuma, Athena and the other bosses. I can already tell you I’m good with Demitri (who I always used in the arcades) and Geese. Oh my god do I love Geese in this game. I’m a drooling fanboy all over again. I’m 15 again and loving it. LOVING IT. Ignore the angry pissy comments from people who wish they could double perfect each character right off the bat. This is Nostalgia right here. Anyone complaining about this game has grown soft and pathetic in regards to how whacked fighting games used to be. Remember the evil that was Guile? Or Sub-Zero ultra cheese in the first Mortal Kombat. Those complaining have forgotten how to have fun. It’s that simple.

As soon as I MASTER Geese and Demitri, it’s Terry Bogard getting played next.

Now, we normally don’t cover Neo Geo carts here. But I’m sure if enough of you ask, I can get Widshish and Panks to let it be a feature!

Speaking of features, thanks to your overwhelming response to the VC, and also internal praise from other writers that work at 411, I can safely say the VC will be a weekly thing here at 411mania after I get back from my Thanksgiving trip to NY and Philly. And yes, Retrograding will STILL be around. So everyone can be happy. So smiles and Pokemon all around.

Now, I thought in honour of SVC Chaos’ release, I’d spend this column looking at the best VS Game ever made. Not reviewing it. Just talking about it with you all.

It shares the same name as SVC, but has a different tagline.

Now whip out your NeoGeo Pocket Colours with me kiddies, it’s time to talk about SNK vs Capcom: The Match of the Millennium.
Trust me friends. You will believe a 2 button fight can actually be incredible. No, not just incredible, but one of the best fighters ever made. Bar none.

The characters may be super deformed, but every move is captured perfect, from Kens Dragon punch to BB Hood’s bullets. Orochi Iori is just that. It’s wonderful. The graphics never fail to impress me, even now in the days of the GBA and next gen systems like the Xbox. MOTM look crisp and clear; far beyond even SFA3 on the GBA. It even has two, yes TWO opening demos for the game. One for SNK guys, one for Capcom guys. My favorite is watching Athena and Morrigan though.

And the backgrounds? Holy crap. Talk about detail. I only wish a console game was made as good as this one!

Now. I’m sure you’re wondering about the roster for this game. And not surprisingly, it’s a roster that was untouchable until the new SVC game. I’m sorry, Earthquake + Mr. Karate = mark out for Alex.

SNK Side: Kyo, Iori, Mai, Terry, Ryo, Hoahmaru, Nakoruru, Athena, Leona, and four hidden characters (Geese, Evil Iori, Akari, and Yuri)

Capcom Side: Ken, Ryu, Chun-Li, Morrigan, Felicia, Zangief, Sakura, Dan, Guile, and four hidden characters (BB Hood, M. Bison, Akuma, and Evil Ryu)

Hey! I love this roster! YURI! YUUUUUUURI! My favorite SNK character. She’s so nuts. My tag team is Yuri and Morrigan. And not because they’re characters with boobs like a lot of sad gamers. Yuri’s poses and victories are hilarious and well, Morrigan is a succubus. How can that not be cool? Plus, I was amazed to see Nakoruru, Hoahmaru, and B.B. Hood in here. I never liked BB in the Darkstalkers series, but Cannon Spike made me warm up to her. Sure, the Capcom roster is the same and I’d have preferred to see Donovan Bane over Felicia, or Sagat over Dan, but you can’t always get what you want.

26 playable characters in a handheld game! That boggles my mind. Hell, that’s good for an arcade or console fighting game. And each one plays exactly as they would in their original game! It’s a sight to behold and makes me smile just to play.

As long as we are talking about the characters I do have to say the way of unlocking characters is evil. Simply evil. When you beat the game you unlock some bricks covering up their portrait. When the picture is brick free, the character is playable. But the catch is…the blocks are random. Thus you might get a tile that’s already been open. Or worse, only land on already cleared tiles. EVIL! So unlocking a guy can take a long time. However, the harder the difficulty and the better you do, the more chances at clearing bricks you get. So it can either take a long time, or not very long at all.

The plot’s typical fighter fare. You character or characters run around beating the crap out of people while uncovering a plot by both Geese and M. Bison to turn either Iori or Ryu into an evil force of destruction.

And here’s what’s great. Unlike the other VS games out there, each character or characters in MOTM has their own SPECIAL endings. Yes, that’s right. Individual personalized endings.

You also might have noticed me saying characterS. Yes, you can choose to play MOTM in 1 on 1 battles, or in tag team or 6 man tag format. How can no other fighting game have considered this? If the NGPC can give you options like this, what excuse is there for other games not to let you mix it up like this. You can even have handicapped matches! Even if there wasn’t a full story line or individual moving endings (Not just cut scenes or words across a picture, but FULL endings), MOTM already has more depth to it than any other fighting game ever made. Three different playing modes gives this game unlimited replay. And then you have to look at all the different teams you can make. Wow. Just Wow. Again, MOTM deserves a lot more attention that it has gotten and by far has my vote for the best fighting game ever made.

So we’ve talked about the graphics shouldn’t be possible on a handheld system, but are. That the game plays as well as any arcade or console fighter; maybe even better and that there are so many modes that the game can be played forever and still feels fresh and new.

What else is there?

A lot actually. A hell of a lot for. Would you believe SEVEN More modes?

These are called the Olympic Modes. Some are common now in Fighting games. Others are tributes to classic SNK and Capcom games and sadly have yet to be repeated. Even just one of these minigames would bring a smile to a gamer’s face. But to have all seven in addition to this jampacked little cart? Let me repeat myself: GREATEST FIGHTER EVER.

The first one is Survival Mode. Pick a character and see how many enemies you can get through. The max is 100. I know. Insane, huh? Takes a LOT of work to get this good people. I mastered it with Ryu.

The second is Time Attack. See how quickly you take out five random opponents. The catch is you can’t go over seven minutes. My best time is 39.25 seconds with Ryu again. So as you can see, that seven minute max is NOT a problem.

Next up is FIRST BLAST. In this you and your opponents each are at the bare minimum of life. And obviously, first hit wins. The idea is to get as big a score as possible. It all depends on how quick you are, what moves you use, and the length of your winning streak.

Now there are four unique events after these. Two SNK. 2 Capcom.

The first SNK game is METAL SLUG! Okay, a form of Metal Slug called Target 9. It’s a shoot em target type game where you blow up aliens for cash and prizes. Okay. Just points. But it’s still a nice little diversion after Quarter Circle forward and Punch, Quarter circle back and quick. SHIN SHOURYUU HADOU KEN!

The next gamer is enough to make Alex Williams wet himself. Or at least buy a NGPC and MOTM. DDR: DARKSTALKER STYLE! Use the buttons and control pad to make Felicia boogie her furry (FURRIE!) little butt off to the theme music of six different characters. It’s a lot of fun, even if there’s no actual dance pad. The bonus side to this game is it does get your fingers fast enough to do some mega combo hits in MOTM’s main game.

Next up is my least favorite of the minigames: Blade Art. It’s just a reflex game involving Jubei from Samurai Showdown cutting up a bunch of multicolored and random dummies. It’s the most challenging of the minigames in my opinion, and also the least fun. Cut cut cut. It’s electronic whack a mole.

Now for the best mini game. It’s Ghost and Goblins. You play as Arthur (who really needs to be in actual fighting games BTW) against the Gargoyle (Firebrand?). It’s a lot of jumping, collecting treasure, turning around and repeating. The object is to not get killed by the gargoyle while adding to your treasure trove. I can’t explain why, but I get SO addicted to this thing. Jump jump, dodge the Gargoyle. Jump jump, get treasure. Repeat until dead or time runs out. Normally I despise any game that involves jumping, but this I like. I really do. Perhaps because it’s nostalgic, simplistic, and cute all in the same package.

Now besides being wacky fun and quick diversions, these minigames have yet another reason for existing. You’ll be collecting Versus points as you play them. Enough of these points can unlock new super new finishing moves for you characters. And trust me, they are ALL worth it. And even when you have all those moves unlocked, you can still earn points to use with three other games: KoF 1999, Capcom vs SNK on the DC AND Cardfighter’s Clash. INSANE! Totally insane.

I can’t preach over and over again how MOTM was years a head of its time. It’s nearly 5 years after the game was made and it’s STILL light years better than any fighting game that has come out since. The depth of the game, the various modes, a decent story for a fighting game. It’s all here. On one dead’ little system.

Now I know Fred’s the only other 411’er that will laugh in your face if you call either NEO GEO system dead. The Home system for SNK has been around over ten years now, and new games are still being made. M$, Nintendo, and Sony WISH they had that ability. And that loyal a fanbase. The NGPC is still sought after by people who want a real gaming experience. And by far Match of the Millennium is the crown jewel in the NGPC collection.

As is always the case, the best games are the ones passed over by the majority of gamers. The most influential games rarely get the credit they deserve, with a second rate but better marketed game following in its footsteps hogging the glory. So is the case with MotM. It was on a system that never really took off, in a genre that never faired well on a handheld.

But it’s still the measuring stick by which I judge all fighting games. Even SF2:CE. It took a long time for anything to replace that in my heart of hearts, but lo and behold it happened.

When I review SVC Chaos for you next week, will I tell you it is better than MOTM? No. I won’t. It’s brighter, bigger, and prettier. It has some characters I love. But for the overall value of MOTM, no game can compare to it, and I don’t see one being made in a long time that will even come close to the hard work, dedication and sheer beauty SNK put into this little NeoGeo Pocket Colour cart.

However, I am looking forward to SS0 (Play as POPPY!) and Guilty Gear vs Darkstalkers. But I’m skeptical they’ll even be able to hold a candle to the brilliance of Match of the Millennium.

This weekend will have a bonus mailbag for you all as well.