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Neo Geo Pocket Power

SNK vs Capcom : Match of the Millennium
Reader Review by Insecta
Genre: Fighting
Players: 1-2

Oh boy, is this game amazing. This game is phenomenal, for one simple reason; you can do so many things in it. And every single thing you can do is incredible. This is my Number 2 game of all time, on any console (first is PC's Roller Coaster Tycoon) and my favorite handheld game ever. Don't get me wrong; I love my Gameboy Color with Zelda DX and Mario DX being 3rd and 4th on my best game list. But this game is outstandingly good.

Game Play
Undoubtedly the best part of the game, which is good because game play is the most important part of a game! The game has a little storyline about Geese Howard (of Fatal Fury) and M. Bison (from, Street Fighter) setting up a fighting tournament to which promises money as a prize. But Geese and Bison are really getting the best fighter in the world, so they can do something to them to make them stronger fighters. Okay, so this isn't the greatest storyline in the world, its pretty imaginative for a fighting game! Oddly, even though SNK made the game the SNK characters are obviously much weaker. I still play as Leona though!

Fights take place as the usual, round 1 fight, KO (perfect) style you would expect from a fighting game. You select one of 26 (including secret fighters) characters; there are 13 SNK and 13 Capcom. Terry, Mai, Leona, Iori and Nakoruru are in the game, as are Ryu, Chun-Li, Zangief, Sakura and Akuma. Then you fight 5 sets of normal characters and your rival, which results in a lengthy (often humorous) dialogue from your rival character, which is different for everyone. Then you fight 3 sets of bosses (3 Guards, M.Bison and Geese then Evil Ryu/Iori). After you finish the game you are present with nine tiles. Depending on how well you did tiles are taken off this square, which helps you get secret characters. You have to play through the game A LOT if you want to get all the secret characters!

To take the game further you can alter many options such as able, which makes moves much easier (for young kids, or the less co-ordinated amongst us), auto power off to shut off the game if you leave it on, and of course you can change the difficulty. There are 6 difficulty settings, which after Normal get very hard!

Outside of the fighting game (called Tourney mode), you have five more options. You have record, which tells you how many battles you have won lost. Then you get sparring, which is the super cool, option packed training mode. Next we see Entry, where you can make a Character, Tag Team and Team, give them names, music and win lines. I don't actually use Entry mode, but I'm sure some people do. The second to last mode is the vs. mode, where you can battle a friend, or trade data with Card Fighters Clash, or Dreamcast's KoF 99 and SNK vs. Capcom!

The last, but certainly not least is the Olympic mode! God knows why they put this mode in, but god bless them for doing it! It's a welcome substitute for making mode in KoF R2, and sees you taking part in events. You have survival, where you try and beat as many out of a 100 opponents on one health bar, time attack where you see how fast you can beat 5 opponents and First Blast where you try and beat each of ten opponents first, with the best move possible. Then you get Catwalk (Beat mania style game), Ghost Trick (simple platform game), Target 9 (space target shooting) and Blade Arts (samurai target slicing). When you get enough points in these games you can but an extra move for each character, which you can use in the game! This really adds to the replay value, as you going to have to work hard for points! You can even talk to your 'coach' (Samuri Shodown's Rimururu, or Capcom's Karin) which is fun, although pointless!

Overall the game play is the best I have ever played!

Graphics
Yes this is the same graphics engine from all the other NGP fighters, but just because it looks the same, people instantly assume that it plays the same. This is NOT true. The SNK team had to draw all the Street Fighter characters into their super deformed versions, and the Samurai's have been totally redone from Samurai Shodown. The KoF characters are all taken from KoF R2, with the addition of a few moves. They all fit into the game well, but I wish they wouldn't super deform them! Why can't they just look normal? All the moves still look stunning, especially Morrigan's (from Darkstalkers)! The animation is very smooth and puts the Playstation to shame at time!

Thankfully the backgrounds are normal, and look all the better for it. Ryu's SF2 stage has a scrolling background, which looks very neat and Terry's stage is on a moving train! Each background has a day and night option, which stops them from getting boring!

The options screens, and the screens who show who you fight next and things like that are all very impressive. The character roster shows all the characters faces, and when you select them it shows some pretty good artwork of them! The Olympic games look like the fighting graphics.

If it wasn't for the super deformed characters, the graphics would be perfect...

Sound/Music
The sound effects in this game are almost identical to KoF R2, if a little better and more variety. They all fit together well, and they don't get tedious or boring at all. The options screens have the usual chimes and little melodies. Unfortunately there is no speech in the game, but what do you expect on a handheld fighter with 26 selectable players? Nothing wrong with SFX, but nothing special.

The music, is the best music I have ever heard on a handheld game, and if it wasn't for the original King of Fighters games, it would be the best music I have ever heard in a game! Each character has there superbly converted theme tune, and even though the R2 tunes are in there for SNK characters, SNK decided to work on them a bit! All the music sounds terrific, you will always play this game at full volume if you can. My favorite theme tunes are (in order) Leona, Dan and Sakura. I love the music so much! The only strange thing is on the sound test the Olympic, clone or cathedral music aren't there. Strange, but not much of a worry!

Play Control/Game Design
The fighting engine is so close to perfection, sometimes I wake up at night having nightmares about how it was programmed! Before you start you select Single/Tag Team or Team and then Advanced (Street Fighter Style), Counter (KoF Extra Style) and Rush (KoF Advanced Style). You do a weak punch/kick by tapping the buttons and holding them does a stronger punch/kick, which, once got used to is better than the Neo Geo console itself! The used the same buttons system in KoF R2, but this time it's much, much easier to do weak moves. The specials also seem to be easier to do, and theirs none of that R2 slow starting AI business. In general the game plays much faster.

This is nearly all thanks to the wonderful little 3D stick (and kick ass programming).

Last Words

Improve:
No super deformed characters.
Voices?
More characters... Blue Mary? Blanka?

Get if you like: Fighters, Mini Games, Street Fighter, SNK

Get this game if you have a NGPC, even if you don't really like fighting games. You will learn to love it. There are so many options, so much to do, you just can't feel like its a bad game. Even if you hate the game you can listen to the music! Get it now, and if you don't have a NGPC get one of those! Go!

Scores

Gameplay: *****
Graphics: ****
Sound/Music: ****
Play Control/Game Design: *****
Personal Opinion: *****
Total: 92%

Final Score: 95%

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