I’ve been thinking about what makes Capcom vs. SNK 2 so special- I tried to give an overview in last week’s Playlist, but it really wasn’t enough space to both introduce the game and then explain its unique charms. It isn’t just that it’s a Versus game- Marvel vs. Capcom doesn’t have nearly the same level of mechanical awesome in my opinion, though it is also fantastic. I think the thing that makes it so one-of-a-kind is that it is a successful attempt at merging two fighting game styles.
Unlike MvC, where all the Marvel characters have no predefined fighting game style, the SNK characters already have predefined moves and movement, as do the Capcom characters. This forces Capcom to consider someone else’s ideas about how a fighting game should be for a moment, and the results are spectacular. It’s certainly a hard thing to do: taking another developer’s style, and not only adapting your characters to it but adding touches of your gameplay style to the systems as well. This is why the other Capcom vs. SNK games were messes- it’s mad science. It can go so very very wrong.
But here we see perhaps the only time it has truly gone right. The three character system from KoF makes the matches all super hype, and adds the element of creating a team, not just picking a character. The zoning of Street Fighter means that the entire screen is a fight, not just one corner or the other as often happens in KoF. The movement systems of KoF mean everyone is really mobile, but the defensive systems of Street Fighter means that predicting an enemy’s approach means you can really mess them up.
And to top it all off, there’s the ratio system! Oh, the ratio system is so good. Basically, the ratio system is, you get four points. You spend these points when forming your team. Each character costs one point, and you can choose up to three characters. From there, you split up the points that are remaining to buff the characters you have. The points act as power multipliers- a character with two points hits about twice as hard, and can take twice as much damage, as the same character with one point. You can choose three characters, and have two be one point, and one be two points. You can choose two, and have it be two and two. Or three and one. Or you could choose just ONE character, and have him be a ridiculously hard to kill four point beast.
It’s genius. It’s genius. And holy crap is it hard to balance, because CvS2 has balance issues out the wazoo. If you were wondering, though- if you were sitting there reading that Playlist and thinking I was full of crap- well, there’s my logic. That’s what makes CvS2 the best fighting game ever.