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SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighters’ Clash Switch Release Revives One of the Best Card RPGs

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SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighters' Clash Switch

When covering SNK and Code Mystics’ first wave of NeoGeo Pocket Color Selection releases, we noted that the true gem of the system’s library wasn’t to be found. The one game that truly justified the handheld’s existence, beyond a fun way to play fighters on the go. SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighters’ Clash.

Now the wait’s over.

Card Fighters’ Clash was a 1999 release for the NGPC, the result of SNK seeking to enter the trading card game craze with a card RPG of its own. If you’ve played Pokemon Trading Card Game for the Game Boy Color, you’ll probably find the structure here similar! You choose locations from a map menu, then walk around and challenge opponents to get better cards and collect location coins.

SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighters' Clash Switch

Where Card Fighters’ Clash distinguishes itself? In the balance of the card game part. Since both SNK and Capcom are known for their fighting games, the battles here are made to feel like a three-on-three match. It’s about smartly taking hits and blocking others. It’s about gaining SP until you’re ready to use it on an opponent-trampling Unite attack. And it’s also about backing up your active fighters with their companions to boost their strength.

The game saw two sequels: the Japan-only Card Fighters 2 Expand Edition and the notoriously buggy Card Fighters DS. Expand, through its fan translation, can be a lot of fun! (And we’d love to see it released in this series!) But it does cut out a lot of the RPG part of the original games. And even without the game-breaking bugs, DS changes the fundamental balance of the card game and doesn’t have the same magic.

SNK vs. Capcom card game Switch

The NeoGeo Pocket Color Selection version of the Card Fighters’ Clash takes a lot of elements you’d expect from the other releases in the line. The presentation? It’s the same, down to the filters, scaling and background selection. But there are some things under the hood here that really make the release special.

First was how Code Mystics built out link functionality between your saves. You can trade and battle between the SNK and Capcom versions of the game, albeit just the saves on your own system. (We’d love online! Or even local wireless! But that’s a larger step, we know.) This allows you to actually collect all the cards in one game. And hey, playing head-to-head with each player holding one side of a Switch? That’s kind of fun too.

Card Fighters Clash Switch versus play

Second? You can even use the “CFC Link” function with Match of the Millennium, the fighting SNK vs. Capcom companion on the system. It’s a small thing! It just unlocks a few extras. But it’s such a nice thing that it works.

That isn’t to say it’s perfect! Notably, the NGPC’s limited screen space means that helpful information about card effects is a button press or two further away than you’d like. It’s something we’d love to see addressed in a modern remake, but even with an emulation like this, we would have loved to see it use the letterboxed screen area to show information like in the Sega Ages titles. Second — and this is minor but it drives us up the wall a bit — the pixel effect filter doesn’t line up quite as it should. This? This could maybe get easily patched. But if the Card Fighters’ Clash filter is the same as in the other Selection releases, Code Mystics and SNK have certainly had a chance to fix it.

SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighters' Clash Switch

SNK vs Capcom: Card Fighters’ Clash is available now on the Nintendo Switch eShop for $7.99. More NeoGeo Pocket Color Selection releases, including the Volume 1 compilation, are also available.

Graham Russell
Graham Russell, editor-at-large, has been writing about games for various sites and publications since 2007. He’s a fan of streamlined strategy games, local multiplayer and upbeat aesthetics. He joined Siliconera in February 2020, and served as its Managing Editor until July 2022. When he’s not writing about games, he’s a graphic designer, web developer, card/board game designer and editor.