SNK vs Capcom: Match of the Millennium is a stunning game for its time, offering up fluid movements, sharp visuals, and impressive play when compared to anything on handhelds at the time. SNK could have been content to make a great fighter, cramming twenty-six fighters (and an impressive number of their movesets) from across Capcom and SNK’s fighting franchises. Instead, it added a bunch of minigames that offer fun challenges, charming looks at characters, and some nice details, making for a rich package that few fighters match even today.
Throwing down against this massive roster of fighters is likely enough to keep most players busy for ages. Especially with three different fighting modes and battle styles thrown in to allow you to mix it up. There are a bunch of characters you can unlock. Still, how well do you think you’d do against one hundred matches all in a row? How fast could you take down five foes without a break? How many matches could you win if the first hit decided the fight?
These challenges are all available in SNK vs Capcom: Match of the Millennium’s Olympic mode, an array of minigames and challenges. These build upon the regular fighting gameplay by giving you interesting challenges like forcing you to budget health and play carefully, move as fast as you can, or find a means to strike without getting hit back. These all task you with trying your favorite characters in different ways, prioritizing new moves and different combat styles.
Not that you don’t need these abilities in a regular match, but certain moves and styles have greater value in these unique challenges. You might want to play more conservatively when your health only gets refilled a tiny bit between each of the 100 matches of survival mode. You may not feel like you usually go all out, but every sliver of health suddenly becomes much more precious when the risks are so much higher. Meanwhile, you might find yourself playing too carefully if you need to take folks down in one hit or steamroll them quickly. I found it made me look at the characters’ abilities in a new light, enriching the main game and giving me a new appreciation for how each character played.
SNK vs Capcom: Match of the Millennium doesn’t just mix up its fighting matches with its minigames. It also offers a few playful games that are unique to whatever side you’re playing on. The Olympics are SNK vs Capcom, after all, so whichever side you choose, you’ll find yourself squaring off against opponents from the other company (which can also factor into your strategy in some interesting ways). These games will have you shooting aliens, slashing dummies, and dancing all night. They make for some odd additions that bring some fun charm and variety to the game.
On the SNK side, you can try out the Target9 minigame. Metal Slug’s Marco makes an appearance here, and you will help him shoot down alien ships before they blast you back. It’s a twitchy minigame that ramps up in difficulty in a hurry. You can also try out Blade Arts, which sees Samurai Shodown’s Jubei cutting up straw dummies that pop up around him. Again, you’ll need to be quick to do well.
The Capcom minigames also prioritize familiar faces. Tou’ll be able to guide Ghosts N’ Goblins’ Arthur as he leaps across cliffs, dodging the Red Arremer as you try to snag treasures. When you’re done getting your skin torn off, you can switch to dancing with Darkstalkers’ Felicia in the Cat Walk minigame, tapping A, B, and the Directional Buttons in time with the beat.
None of these games is particularly complex, but they all bring a bit of playful charm to SNK vs Capcom: Match of the Millennium. It’s nice to have something completely outside the game to cool down with if you’ve had a few bad matches. (Pr lost in Survival after sinking almost an hour into it, which I don’t want to talk about.) It’s good to see other flagship characters make an appearance, and the silly dance competition with Felicia gives you a bit more time to savor the game’s great music. Good luck getting through Chun Li’s track, though.
These diversions come with some great prizes, which adds to their appeal. The points you earn in playing them (whether you win or lose) can be spent on unlocking new moves for each character. You need a fair amount of points, so expect to spend a lot of time here, but they give players something to work for. I often put fighters down when there’s no real-life opponent to play against, as there feels like there really isn’t much for a goal to work towards besides beating the quick story mode. These minigames give me something to strive toward, making me feel like I’m making progress even if I’m just puttering around. That said, the costs to unlock moves are a bit ridiculous, so unlocking everything for everyone may wear your enjoyment of these games down quite a bit.
With new unlocked moves, as well as unique match demands, I found that SNK vs Capcom: Match of the Millennium’s minigames do an excellent job of keeping the game fresh and new while teaching you to appreciate the fighters’ movesets. They’re light and silly at times, sure, but they also give more excuses to savor the art, sound, and smooth gameplay in this impressive handheld fighter.
SNK vs Capcom: Match of the Millennium is available now on the Nintendo Switch. It is also available on the plucky Neo Geo Pocket Color.