The Angry Gamer – The Return of the King

At long last, SNK fans’ prayers have been answered. The original gangsta of video trading card games is making a triumphant return, as SNK Playmore recently unveiled SNK vs Capcom Cardfighter’s Clash DS at the Tokyo Game Show. (It’s at the very bottom of the page, if you follow that link.)

Never heard of it? Well, you’re likely not alone; most gamers haven’t heard of SNKvC CFC, because the original game appeared on the underrated NeoGeo Pocket Color handheld console. Brief bit of history: the NGPC lasted a total of seven months in the US market before it was pulled. Why? The technically inferior Game Boy Color was stomping it, as Nintendo handhelds are likely to do. The only handheld that’s seriously threatened Nintendo’s domination is the PSP, and that just came out this year! Anyway, CFC was so damn good, that game alone is reason enough to buy a NGPC. (Of course, there’s loads of other great games, too, like SNK vs Capcom: Match of the Millennium, arguably the best fighting game ever made, but that’s material for another column.)

So what makes CFC so special? Unlike other video TCGs, CFC is not based on a real-life game. There are no paper cards to be found. As such, this game was specifically designed for the video screen. The only unoriginal bit is that all of the cards are based on existing Capcom and SNK characters, with many of them from the Street Fighter, Darkstalkers, and King of Fighters franchises. But it doesn’t stop there; the two companies really pulled out all of the stops when dredging up characters for the game. There’s over 200 cards to choose from, and characters like Mega Man, Arthur (from Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins), and the Metal Slug soldiers manage to show up. Many of the characters had never been seen in US-released games before, which was an added treat.

The gameplay of CFC was both quick to learn and deceptively deep; like most other TCGs, the object was to knock your opponent’s life total down to zero, and you often had to fight through their characters in order to do so. Ever wonder what would happen if Zero fought Birdie? Or if Marco threw down against Captain Commando? Now you could find out. The game wasn’t all just duel after duel, though; you played the role of a young boy or girl rising through the ranks, with the championship in your sights (sound familiar?). CFC almost felt like an RPG in this respect, with plenty of locations to explore and NPCs to challenge.

A sequel, Cardfighter’s Clash Expand Edition, did get released…but only in Japan. Since then, the franchise has lain dormant, and SNK as a company went through about 5,000 changes. But, at long last, what most fans thought would be nothing more than a pipe dream has come to fruition, with the release of a brand-new game for the DS. It’s even rumored to have an online component for trading and battle with friends across the globe. While a US release is unconfirmed, it’s very possible that we’ll get it, as SNK has been releasing most of their products stateside ever since they became SNK Playmore. Let’s hope, my friends…or, if all else fails, lay siege to SNKP’s US offices with pitchforks and torches until they accede to our demands.