SNK Vs. Capcom: Card Fighters' Clash
  

   
REVIEWInspired from Pokemon titles of the era, Card Fighters' Clash is a "collect-em all" style card game made by SNK in 1999 exclusively for the Neo Geo Pocket. The game features hundreds of Capcom and SNK characters as cards (over 300 in all) from an historic variety of franchises. Originally, there were two versions of the game made a "Capcom" version and an "SNK" version. Both versions offer an identical gameplay experience, however, each version has different selectable heroes, a different background color, and several exclusive (hard-to-find) cards which are unique to each version.
 

 

 

Card Fighters Clash is a much deeper game than it initially lets on!

  
The object of the game is to challenge other card players as your hero explores a variety of landmarks based on Capcom & SNK buildings and franchises. Upon winning battles, you collect new cards to strengthen your deck. You can enter shops to buy new cards, or gain new cards by defeating other card fighters. Most cards have unique abilities, and it's up to the player to strategize and decide which cards to place in their deck. There two types of cards: Character cards and Action cards. Both important to building a strong deck.


Players can create and save up to 3 custom decks. This actually comes in handy, since there are a huge variety of angles and strategies available in the game. Success against CPU and human opponents is all based on which cards you use, and more specifically how you set up your deck of 50 cards, balanced with both Character and Action cards. The cards are drawn at random during each card battle, so there's also a little bit of chance involved. However, Card Fighters is actually more strategic than the likes of Poker, Blackjack, or nearly any popular casino/card game you could think of. Playing against an equally skilled human opponent is incredibly fun experience once you learn the ropes!
 

Tournament time!

Be sure not to kurf yourself.

 
If you've never played Card Fighters, here's a quick crash course... In your deck of 50 cards, you want to balance out Character cards and Action cards. Character cards give the player a specific amount of "SP" when they're placed on the board, and SP is needed to use Action cards. More powerful Action cards require more SP. "Disabling" character cards like Yashiro or Akuma can eliminate your opponent's characters on the board, and are considered strong. However, Character cards are balanced by how much SP they provide. For example, Akuma gives the player zero SP, but he K.O.'s (completely eliminates) the opponent's card. However, Yashiro knocks the players card back into the opponent's deck, but does provide a small amount of SP. 


Players are allowed up to 3 of the same Character card. Action cards provide unique abilities and other strategies which can be enhanced by Character cards, some which also have their own effects and abilities when placed on the board. While Action cards are fun to use and very effective, keeping too many Action cards in your deck may cause you to run out of Character cards to put on the board, which can result in defeat. Likewise, if you have too many Character cards in your deck, your playstyle may end up being too stiff... so it's smart to have a good balance of both.  
 

FUN FACT: Card Fighter "Kana" is based on a real-life Chun-Li cosplayer from Japan! Kana has a Twitter account (@Kana_09_07) and even follows @Fighters_Gen. Life works in mysterious ways... ^o^


Some Character cards are strong because they have high HP (such as Geese with 1500 HP). However, other Character cards are actually more powerful because they bring unique "abilities" that mix up the game. "Triangle" based cards have abilities which active as soon as the card is placed down on the board. "Circle" based cards have a constant effect once placed down, and "Square" based cards' abilities can be activated by the player the next turn after the card was placed down. High HP Character cards are still strong, because they can be used to "Defend" a player's overall HP and more importantly "Unite" attack do inflict massive damage on the opponent (and K.O. their Character cards). The game either ends when a player loses all their HP or they run out of cards.
 
 
On that note, certain Action and Character cards are designed to make the opponent "Discard" their cards... which can result in them running out of cards and losing the game (a different attack strategy than simply running down their HP). With so different ways to win a card battle, it requires some study and trial and error to fully grasp and master the complexity of Card Fighters Clash. In fact, since the in-game translation of some of the character abilities are so bad, you actually have to try them out in the game and experiment to see what they do (unless you use an online guide)! However, discovering the strengths and weaknesses of each Character and Action card is part of the initial fun.
 
 

NeoGeo Arcade is awesome!

Endless mind games.

 
Like a fighting game, the best part of Card Fighters Clash is undoubtedly competition against other human players. However, the single-player experience is actually pretty enjoyable, as well. There are memorable locations, soundtracks, and charmingly funny characters you'll run into and talk to. The game does a fairly good job at introducing "beginner" cards early on effectively teaching new players the basic flow of the game. On the downside, the vast majority of cards you'll collect in the early part of the game (potentially spanning 10-20 hours) are basically useless in high level play. Indeed, most of the cards you'll collect in the early part of the game "trash" at high level. Sadly, many "cool" characters have unfortunately weak cards some with no abilities at all. One of my only other complains is that the computer AI during card battles is usually very easy to defeat, even with an "average" deck. Once again, the 2-player experience (with both players using high-level decks and cards) is where it's at. When you and a friend know how to play, and have a variety of styles and decks each, you might find yourself playing this game for many years!


While the overall meta (at the highest competitive level) is surprisingly balanced in Card Fighters Clash... there is actually one "infinite" that exists, and is definitely game-breaking. However, it's considerably difficult to do and requires some risk from the player as well. In short, the exploit / infinite uses the Kyosuke card (and several Action cards that I won't name), forcing the opponent to "discard" all cards in their deck, with each sequential turn, and giving them no other options besides losing. However, if you do know about the infinite, you and your friends can ban the move from competition. Besides that one major gameplay flaw, Card Fighters Clash is very fun, rewarding, challenging, and offers some of the deepest strategic gameplay I've ever experienced in a card game. On the same token, it's definitely not overcomplicated like some other card battle games out there!
 

Think you're ready for the tournament scene?

 
The charming in-game graphics are done very well, considering the technology available at the time. The catchy "chibi" art style truly defines the visuals of Card Fighters. Capcom & SNK character cards ooze with personality thanks to the cool illustrations by Falcoon, and all your favorite Capcom & SNK icons are immediately recognizable... even with their super-deformed, and eerily large noggins. Also, to see so many characters in one game makes for countless amount of fan service for us Capcom & SNK enthusiasts (especially for back in 1999). When the cards "clash" during attacks, the character-specific hit effects & sound effects enhance the action... effectively adding in that "ouch" factor we know and love in fighting games (well, you have to use your imagination a little bit). lol.


The human characters within the Card Fighters world are made up of maybe 15-20 pixels at the most, but any old school gamer from the 8-bit or 16-bit days will find a certain charm and personality to love about the character sprites. There's a ton of hilarious dialogue to scroll through, and "random" characters scattered throughout the map to interact with. Also worth mentioning, the poor translation and "Japang-lish" misspellings of random words makes the dialogue all the more entertaining! If you like RPGs or Pokemon-style card games and you're a fighting game buff... you simply can't miss out on Card Fighters Clash.

Page Updated: February 9th, 2022
Developer(s): SNK
Publisher(s): SNK
Platform(s): NeoGeo Pocket, Nintendo Switch
Artwork By): Falcoon
Release Date(s): Oct. 21st, 1999           NEOGEO Pocket
Nov. 30th, 1999
          NEOGEO Pocket
Jan. 12th, 2022          Nintendo Switch
Characters The Mask  (And many more from the titles listed below!)
Related Links (Jan. 2022): Card Fighters Clash Gets Surprise Release on Nintendo Switch

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Featured Video  
Related Games: Card Fighters Clash 2, Card Fighters Clash DS, SNK Vs. Capcom: Match of the Millennium, Capcom Vs. SNK, Capcom Vs. SNK: Pro, Capcom Vs. SNK 2, SNK Vs. Capcom: Chaos, Namco x Capcom, Marvel Vs. Capcom, Marvel Vs. Capcom 2, SNK Gals Fighters, Pocket Fighter, Darkstalkers, Star Gladiator, Rival Schools, Cyberbots, Fatal Fury, Art of Fighting, Kizuna Encounter, The King of Fighters '99, Samurai Shodown, Samurai Shodown 2, Samurai Shodown 64, The Last Blade 2, The Last Blade: Beyond The Destiny, Garou: Mark of the Wolves, Buriki One
 

Gameplay Engine  9.5 / 10
Story / Theme  9.5 / 10
Overall Graphics  8.5 / 10
Animation  7.0 / 10
Music / Sound Effects  8.0 / 10
Innovation  9.5 / 10
Art Direction  10 / 10
Customization  6.0 / 10
Options / Extras  8.0 / 10
Intro / Presentation  8.5 / 10
Replayability / Fun  10 / 10
"Ouch" Factor  7.0 / 10
Characters  10 / 10
BOTTOM LINE

 9.5 / 10

 

 

Final Words: "But Frank... Card Fighters isn't even a fighting game. Why does it have a TFG profile?!" ..... I thought you'd never ask. Card Fighters Clash is "TFG-worthy" simply due to its countless fighting game references, character cameos, unforgettable artwork, and because it's a very underrated game that more people should know about (and play). Ohh yeah... it's also the first ever "SNK Vs. Capcom" crossover game ever made. So there's that.

While the game is not for everybody, I'd recommend Card Fighters to anyone who is a fan of Capcom or SNK characters, and to any fan of card games in general. Don't let the cutesy appearance fool you... there's an "adult" and very challenging card game present here, best experienced with friends. After playing this game on and off for over 2 decades with friends, it's STILL FUN... and a "one-of-a-kind" gameplay experience that I always love coming back to. To truly understand how good of a game it is, you have to play the game with another human opponent who is also confident in their deck(s) and skills.

SNK truly packed a ton of heart and fan service into Card Fighters Clash from every angle. Not only are there 300 cards to collect, there are countless fighting game references and a festive "vibe" that defines the game. It really comes down to this... do you have friends that own a Neo Geo Pocket or Nintendo Switch? If you love this game as much as me, get your friends to learn it and play it with you (and they'll thank you later). In addition to SNK Vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium... Card Fighters Clash was easily one of the best games to come out for the Neo Geo Pocket and reason enough to own the system. The "clicky" D-pad on the NGPC makes the game even more fun to play.

I've had literally 1000's of epic, down-to-the-wire matches in Card Fighters Clash with my good friends over the years. Like in my favorite fighting games, the match-ups can turn out so very differently, with so many twists and turns as they progress. We all have a variety of decks as well, which mixes up the game every time. If you ask me, Card Fighters Clash is a game that never gets old. Card Fighters Clash is a timeless tribute to so many Capcom and SNK fighting games... and one of the defining games on Neo Geo Pocket Color. Everyone should try it out and experience it (even if you don't manage to collect all 300 cards).

~TFG Webmaster | @Fighters_Gen

 
 
 
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