I’ve been a huge fan of the NeoGeo Pocket Color releases for Nintendo Switch. I never had a Pocket Color when I was younger, so I missed out on its array of great fighting games translated into a somewhat simplified handheld format. They have obvious historical value, too–but if you’re looking for a fighting game, late 90’s handheld ports might not be the first thing you turn to. But SNK used some sort of black magic to make these games so damn close to their console or arcade counterparts, if I would have played them in the 90s I would have been even more blown away than I am now. My biggest gripe so far has been that these games often only feature a few modes, or fewer fighters than I would hope for. I was surprised, therefore, to discover that SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium is fairly beefy in regards to content.
Originally released in 1999, SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium is another entry in the SNK vs. Capcom (alternatively Capcom vs. SNK) series. This Neo Geo Pocket Color exclusive doesn’t really skimp on the game modes and characters as you might expect from a 21 year old handheld game. And the Neo Geo Pocket color was already a great platform for the other fighting games in its line-up. It turns out, SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium is my favorite of the bunch.
The Match of the Millennium is chock full of fighters and game modes. There are twenty-six total fighters, with eight of those fighters being unlockable. There are several game modes, including the normal solo, versus, as well as tournament and even an Olympics mode that features several minigames. During my research for my review I discovered that SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium has the largest cartridge size from the other Neo Geo Pocket Color games, and it shows. The twenty-six character roster has the characters you would expect from Street Fighter and other Capcom fighting titles like Darkstalkers, like Ryu, Ken, Chun-Li, Guile, Felicia, Morgana–even Dan. Meanwhile characters like Haohmaru from Samurai Shodown, Terry from King of Fighters and more round out the SNK side of the roster. But it’s not just about the crazy amount of fighters and their separate movesets and styles–there’s just a lot of ways to play The Match of the Millennium.
I mentioned you have your normal solo and versus modes, but there are other interesting and surprisingly fun additions. You can choose to play with one character, or you can make teams of two or three. You also have the choice between SNK or Capcom style power meters. I had a lot of fun playing the Olympic mode especially. In this mode you choose a side–SNK or Capcom–and you face off against the opposing team in a series of minigames. There are time attack and first strike modes, for instance, that have you beat a number of opponents in a certain amount of time or get the first hit in to win the match, respectively. There are even mini-games–like one where you play as Arthur from Ghosts ‘n Goblins to retrieve treasure and even a rhythm game.
Mechanically, SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium is a great fighting game. It does make some concessions to bring both the SNK and Capcom fighters up to parity, as well as simplify some of the controls to be used with the Neo Geo Pocket Color’s two buttons and d-pad. While I dabble in many different fighting franchises, I think the one I’m most familiar with is the Street Fighter series–and I can pick up most of the Street Fighter characters and despite their simplified moveset, they feel and perform generally as I’d expect. I’m always incredibly impressed with Neo Geo Pocket Color games, and The Match of the Millennium is perhaps the most impressive of the series–and as always, they feel like the perfect match for Nintendo Switch.
The Neo Geo Pocket Color games have gotten some pretty cool treatment for their Nintendo Switch ports. You can play an almost 1:1 replica of the Pocket Color on the Nintendo Switch screen when in handheld. There is even a digital representation of the Pocket Color itself, with several different choices in appearance you can use, as well as a few screen filters. You can do away with all of the visual throwbacks, and have the screen zoomed in to fit at a more eye comfortable, larger 4:3 aspect ratio depiction. There is even a rewind option that lets you undo the last few seconds–and in a fighting game, that’s a great way to erase any mistakes you might have made.
I’ve been a fan of these older games coming to Nintendo Switch, and especially for the Neo Geo Pocket Color series. I never had a chance to play these fighting games when they released over twenty years ago, but it’s great to have a chance now. Not only is it a piece of video game history, SNK has made some pretty damn good fighting games. If you’ve ever been interested in any of the NeoGeo Pocket Color games, SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium may be the best of the bunch. If you only choose one to buy, this is the one.
SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium is available on Nintendo Switch
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