The Gamer’s Conscience 06.30.03

$1,850.00. One thousand, eight hundred and fifty dollars.

Here, let me type that fragment again: One Thousand, Eight Hundred and Fifty Dollars.

Now, if you’re like me, there are probably hundreds of ways that this money can be spent. I could purchase fleet of used 1989 Hatchback Geo Metros, and live my own personal thug life parading them during the “work” week. Foodwise, that’s nearly 3300 7-Layer Burritos, minus the inevitable cost of health-related expenses. With that kind of money, you could learn Arabic, or listen to it from native speakers. Heck- you could buy every person you’ve met- and have yet to meet- a copy of one of the greatest animated movies ever, or maybe even make your own. Hell- you could even hand in ending pain and suffering across the globe.

Or, you could get this.

Yeah, that’s right folks. The game that maybe 5 percent of gamers out there are waiting to play, SNK Vs Capcom: Chaos, is finally a reality. And that sweet digital reality can be yours, if you’re willing to pay $1850!!!

Now, when I originally sat down to do this column, I figured I could put out a harmless preview-esque’ piece, with a little background info here and there alongside some color commentary naming off characters who would have been buried in obscurity had it not been for Capcom Vs SNK like Haomaru or Geese Howard. Sure, only Alex Lucard and Joseph Stanley would get it, but I mean, it would have been worth it, right? RIGHT!?!? Hell- I thought so. But at the time I needed to go out back and feed Poppy and Mamahaha, or else face animal endangerment laws. The column then took a back seat.

Fast forward to today. I’m on the second disc of Xenogears, perhaps 1 pound heavier, and no smarter than I was before (determined via my silent acquiescence that St. Anger is actually a decent album). However, once again linked for dramatic effect, something like this can really wake you up. I mean, come on. $1850. Madness.

Now, there is an interesting mini-history behind this title worth going into here? Probably not, but I’m willing to let senility take a bite out of common sense. Gather round, children!

I can recall a quaint time in the industry when a little handheld David, let’s call it the Neo Geo Pocket Color, was brought state-side to battle Goliath, better known as the Game Boy Color. The battle was at the beginning noble, with David being able to put some sway over Goliath’s proverbial wheat field with quality titles like Card Fighter’s Clash and a handheld version of Samurai Shodown 2, capturing 10 percent of said wheat field. T’was a good time to be into handheld games.

It was also sometime during that era that SNK and Capcom (perhaps Playmore at this time?) announced what previously unthinkable: characters in the SNK roster would go head to head directly with those of the Capcom stable. Let me tell ya- this was big. Fucking huge, to be more precise. Ryu vs. Iori was no longer a foggy prospect. The question of “anatomic supremacy” between Mai Shiranui’s breasts (the “North”) and Chun-Li’s thighs (the “South”) would finally be answered.

But even greater than this was that both companies were taking a crack at it- that is; you’d get one game from Capcom, and one game from SNK. Any fighting game fanatic (myself included) will tell you that there’s a heavy stylistic difference between these two juggernauts, with the analogies pertaining to those styles not in short supply. Capcom went on to produce two Capcom Vs. SNK titles, which were both excellent pieces. However, with SNK’s not-so-final bow in 2001 shortly after E3, the world was left with only one title Match of the Millennium on the NGPC, thus leaving the gaming world wondering if the hands behind SNK would ever up Capcom’s ante and their take on the clash big screen.’ Well, come on- it’s bigger than a NGPC’s.

Two years and one Playmore’ later, SNK is back in the saddle again, armed to the teeth in new releases across many platforms. Among them is the MVS (read: Multi Video System) version is being released this summer (MVS is the arcade version, for those just tuning in). And if your last name is Gates, Bush, or Murdock, it can be yours for the accessible price of $1850.00!!!!!

Now, to what has become the 1,850 dollar question: WHAT ON EARTH WOULD POSESS SOMEONE TO PAY THAT MUCH FOR A SINGLE GAME!?!?!?

Maybe the sheer economics of the situation simply command a high price. Feasable reasons include Playmore not being able to keep up it’s beer tab, or maybe there was really a surplus production of these on the MVS level. Regardless, I can’t think of Playmore doing anything that unwise. Such carelessness usually doesn’t exist in the game world- only in the movie world and more frequently in in the music game.

There’s also the level of hype surrounding this game in the fighting game circles. To these cats, perhaps only the second coming of Christ would be enough to pull their attention away from it- and even then, maybe for a few minutes at best. And that hype is contagious too; as I stood in front of the booth capturing some footage of the opener (I go by CrackerMessiah over there), one can’t help but be taken by the game’s grandeur. If you’re a 2D fighting game whole, I need not preach longer. The hype over this game is epic- like Bible epic. Like “annoyingly long RPG” epic.

But the point still stands- all this “epicness” for that epic of a price? Why!?!?!

Now, you’ve all probably gleaned the painfully obvious: “Yeah, Fred likes the 2D fighters. And he’s pumped for this games’ release.” Damn straight. But with this excitement comes some reservation.

However, it literally scares me that a game like this goes for this much. Furthermore, it really makes me wonder if the asking price is really just gouging into those who fully buy into the hype. My last name is Badlissi which, when compared with the three aforementioned rich folks’ last names, does not match any of them. Thus, in it’s one and only current incarnation, I and those whose last names DO NOT match the three previously mentioned will not be able to own this game. I’m not statistician, but that’s a rather large chunk of game buyers.

Now, assuming that a port does not get released of this game, AND it is a good game, the MVS version will be the only version out on the market. No official mention of an AES version (read: for the Neo Geo Home system- yes, they still make games for it) has been made, which is nothing short of a bummer for those who were actually ready to pop down at least 300 bones for it (as of late, recent AES games have entered the market at about 325). AES releases have a track record of coming out a few months after the MVS release, but that still leaves some Neo enthusiasts, at least initially, out in the cold (unless you’ve sold your Metro fleet and own a Phantom-1). However, it might even effect other fans of the franchise; more specifically the non-Neo owners.

The inaccessibility created by SVC:C’s high price tag may alienate some arcade owners from even carrying the product in their businesses. The game, while being the apple of the 2D fighter’s eye, is also supposed to be a source of revenue for the arcade operator. If enough operators can’t afford to get the game into their cabinets, (or in the Neo’s case, MVS Slots) or simply choose not to purchase it at all, it might not even see the light of day. Couple this with a sizable consensus across some circles that the Neo hardware is outdated and thus is unprofitable, and you have a recipe for neglect. From that neglect may come poor sales, which will translate into a dismal chance for a port to show up on any other system. Now, I know that this is the worst-case scenario, but I’m only trying to be realistic.

So how can we, the gaming public, stop the above? Well, it’s quite simple: get off your ass, march down to your local arcade, and unleash the activist in you. Find the manager and tell him: “I WANT SNK VS CAPCOM: CHAOS.” There is strength in numbers as well, so get your friends involved. I plan to make my voice heard at some local arcades in the area, and if this is something you want to see then you should too. Heck- why stop there? Hit up SNK/Playmore’s US Offices and e-mail them some words letting them know you want to see this game. They’ll be the ones who will be making the decisions regarding ports and everything of the SNK brand. I’ve spoken with some of them at E3, and I can assure you that they’re all about the games. They’re great people with open ears, waiting to hear your feedback. Take advantage of it.

This summer a new battle begins in arcades, Playmore says. Let’s do our part, so that a $1,850.00 price tag won’t end it before that beginning.

Preserving the art of fighting, the king of fighters, and the spirit of a samurai.

That’s the Gamer’s Conscience.