SNK Vs. Capcom: Card Fighters Clash DS

REVIEWCard Fighters Clash was one of the main reasons to own a Neo Geo Pocket back in 1999. Nearly a decade later, the cult classic cross-over card game made its big comeback in 2007 on the Nintendo DS. Most of CFC fans outside of Japan didn't get a chance to try out Card Fighters Clash 2, so Card Fighters DS is basically the sequel fans have been waiting for...

Card Fighters
is ambitious, in that it includes such a wide variety of characters from so many different franchises (not only fighting games). That fact alone gives the game potential to have a great storyline, but unfortunately, the story of Card Fighters DS is simply horrendous. Through playing the Story Mode, you ascend up "Card Tower" ...ooOOooh Caaard Toooower... Lmao! (How long did it take them to think that one up?) As the story goes, this big flash of light occurs and everyone in the tower is "brainwashed" by this super computer-thing called MAX. This is where you, in your "assumed" heroic nature, have to play against everyone in the tower (in a card battle) to bring them back to normal (of course). Ohh, and you're supposedly saving the world by doing all of this.  

Worth mentioning, is that the original Card Fighters Clash had a much more laid back story, where you simply played against other characters for fun, and to build up your deck... a much better suited theme & mood for the type of game that it is. So yeah, the story in this version sucks on all levels... but more importantly is how much the gameplay has changed.



8 slots for cards... so many possibilities.


So, how does Card Fighters fare on the bright & shiny Nintendo DS? Well first off, I couldn't imagine a better system suited for the game. The top screen displays most of the action as well as card descriptions, while the bottom touch screen is perfect for sorting your deck and putting down your cards. I immediately love the look and layout of the game.

Just like in the original, you create an deck of 50 cards consisting of character cards, action cards, and counter cards. There are 400 different cards to collect, and trade with your friends wirelessly. The card battle system now uses a point system, where players must use different colored "Force Icons" in order to place down cards. More powerful cards require more icons (usually), and/or orbs of specific colors. Unlike in the original, your character card's HP is no longer the amount of damage you can inflict upon your opponent. The character cards now have HP & BP, BP being the amount of damage that card gives out. So even if your card is down to 100 health, this time, it can still be a threat. Gameplay-wise, damage is a bigger factor in CF DS than in the original, mainly because you used to have the option select to have your health be 4000 or 5000 (as opposed to the default 3000), but sadly, this option doesn't exist in CF DS... you're stuck at 3000.

Like in the first game, cards have triangle, circle, and square abilities. Triangle based cards have abilities that are used as soon as the card is placed down on the playing table. Circle based cards have a constant effect once placed down, and square based cards' abilities can be used the turn after the card was placed down, activated only by the player. All of the abilities themselves also cost "force" orbs, and a big part of the game is learning how to acquire these orbs, and balancing out how you use the them.

One of the biggest gameplay changes is that there are now 8 card slots instead of the classic 3 slots, which allow for some crazy possibilities. The kinds of hands you can get are just plain ridiculous... I mean, you can practically kill your opponent in one turn with the right hand. I wouldn't say the game is entirely broken, but it's definitely open-ended (and less skill-oriented than the original Card Fighters). Along with the new card slots, there are tons of new strategies to learn and work into your playing style. These changes do take some getting used to, especially for fans of the original CF... but once you learn the ropes, it's actually pretty fun with an equally skilled player.

Whatever you say grandpa... and who are you?


The original Card Fighters gave your character the ability to walk around to different locations, each based on a creative Capcom or SNK landmark such as: Capcom World, NeoGeo Land, Lost World, and even the Haunted Mansion from Resident Evil. These areas were colorful, lively, and free to explore. You could talk to people, pretend to play arcade games (lol), flirt with girls at the cafe, and check out the shops... all good times. Each of the unique areas even had catchy theme songs! Unfortunately, the environments in CFDS are the polar opposite of what I just described. The different floors of Card Tower offer very little variety, and are so bland & barren that I think I can actually hear crickets chirping.

Even worse, is that in Card Fighters DS, you can't actually "control" your character. Instead, moving from place to place is actually more like moving from person to person, and that's about all you can do. "Moving" is actually done by touching the bottom screen in certain areas where another card battler or shop clerk is standing, which is just about all anyone ever does... they pretty much just stand around, like robots... swaying and/or dancing nervously... waiting to play cards... with you, of course. Mhm.

Long story short, the RPG/exploring element of the original Card Fighters is absent, making for a shallow 1-player experience & setting. The card battlers you face within the game come in a wide variety of anime style guys & gals, whom don't look bad at first glance; but once you face your 4th or 5th "palette swap" of the exact same character, you'll surely grow sickeningly bored of them. You might even feel as though your intelligence is being insulting by the game, because these shameless sprite "clones" are actually claiming to be different people. Seriously... what a bunch of con-artists.

You don't have any choice of what your main character looks like either. You're stuck with a childish, odd, brown-haired kid (with 1 half yellow strand), who's overly whiney and pretty much everything a main character shouldn't be. This happy-go-lucky chibi kid tricks you into naming him after you, and you'll be stuck with him for the rest of the game within the story mode. (Thankfully his stupid face is never seen in the 2P mode.) Anyhow, this loser goes around with a large array of overly exaggerated anime-style mannerisms (many of which should only be used by girl characters) and boasts some of the WORST in-game dialogue you'll ever hear... none of which even worth repeating for laughs, because it's not even funny. Thish leads me to the next subject... translation.


What are you folks even doing in here?


One thing the game brings back from the original is the horrible translation! Whether it's misspelled words, phrases that don't make sense, or screwed up character stories & card descriptions... it's all around bad. As you may know, most of the cards you use in Card Fighters have a special ability. When you check out the card's stats, it tells you everything you need to know about the card in text. However, some of the descriptions won't do you any good because they hardly make sense... so you end up having to use the card in battle and discover for yourself exactly what it does. In fact, a few descriptions are even plain WRONG! ...Yes, the game actually LIES. This one action card claims to take off 500 damage from all characters, but only takes off 100. While bad translation was a laughable and lovable trait in the first Card Fighters Clash, a 2007 game for the Nintendo DS shouldn't have such blatant errors... and speaking of errors. . . 

The first shipments of the US version of Card Fighters Clash DS are unfortunately infected with a "game breaking" glitch. Once you reach floor 9, there's this character "Jon" awaiting your challenge. If you talk to Jon, your game will freeze up... hindering your ability to go through the card tower the second time, which is the only way to beat the game & collect all the cards in the game. Thankfully the glitch won't erase your save data or anything, and there are actually "two" ways to deal with the glitch:

SNK promised to replace any copies with the glitch with a new fixed version, which requires you mailing in your cartridge to them. Or, you can simply get Pro Action Replay for Nintendo DS, which includes a cheat that will give you 69 copies of EVERY card in the game. Yes, it's definitely cheating and takes the fun out of collecting all the cards in the game, but at least you can play the game with your friends the way it was meant to be played... being able to use all of the cards. The story mode isn't all that great anyway, and you can actually beat it just fine the first time through, so I'd recommend getting Pro Action Replay if you and your friends are looking to actually play the game.

To continue with the flaws (yes, there's more)... the card designs in CFDS simply aren't as intriguing or exciting as in the original. Many Action & Counter card themes are just silly and/or strange, and some action cards even have the exact same ability as others... Weak! Of course, there are a ton of iconic (and quite cool looking) Capcom and SNK character cards in the game, but there are "a few" key characters have actually been left out... I mean... where's Genjuro? How could they forget Genjuro?!? And no Power Stone or Viewtiful Joe either? Booooo! Besides a few gripes like that; overall, the card selection and art style is impressive.

a trippy floor pattern that may give you a seizure.


Seems like all I've done so far is complain about this game... so is it really that bad Mr. Yagami? In some ways it is... but the game is at least playable. As I've repeated over and over again, Card Fighters Clash is one of my all time favorite handheld games, and easily my favorite card game of all time. And to see so much go wrong with the series... really, really hurts. That doesn't mean I won't play the game, because like I said before, it's still pretty fun at it's highest points. And of course, I still like the general "idea" of the game.

So there's actually a bright side? There is... the graphics are indeed bright, sharp, & colorful on the DS's dual screens. The majority of cards feature cool artwork and the unique character hit effects are pretty satisfying too. The gameplay screen looks good, but is slightly crammed, since there are now 8 slots to put your cards. With the stylist, you can manually slide your cards from your hand to the game playing table... but because the cards are soooooo tiny, it's sometimes difficult to grab the card you're aiming for, and also can be a pain to put cards into the "slim" play area. C'mon guys, couldn't you have squeezed out a few more pixels for the all important play area? The battle music is catchy and at least it doesn't completely suck, because you'll be stuck with that one song in 2 player mode.

Simply put, forget the story... the two player mode is what Card Fighters DS is all about. You can at least pick a character "icon" for yourself this time, although your choices are quite limited. You can still name your deck, and save a few different ones for use at any time. The 2-player game runs very smooth, with nearly no loading times. The only time you have to wait is during your opponent's turn, which is now more entertaining because you can now read card descriptions & character stories while you wait (and also laugh at all the errors). Each card also features a brief backstory of the character, something the original CF didn't have. It's pretty cool that you can do something to entertain yourself if your opponent takes forever to complete his/her turn (and they might). Thinking FTW!

Page Updated: April 7th, 2023
Developer(s): SNK Playmore
Publisher(s): SNK Playmore
Platform(s): Nintendo DS
Release Date(s): Dec. 14th, 2006    
Apr. 24th, 2007
Characters The Mask   (and many more... too many to list)
Featured Video:  
Related Games: SNK Vs. Capcom: Card Fighters Clash, SNK Vs. Capcom: Card Fighters Clash 2, SNK Vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium, Capcom Vs. SNK, Capcom Vs. SNK: Pro, Capcom Vs. SNK 2, SNK Vs. Capcom Chaos, Namco Vs. Capcom

Gameplay Engine  7.0 / 10
Story / Theme  2.0 / 10
Overall Graphics  7.5 / 10
Animation  6.0 / 10
Music / Sound Effects  7.0 / 10
Innovation  6.0 / 10
Art Direction  8.0 / 10
Customization  6.5 / 10
Options / Extras  4.5 / 10
Intro / Presentation  5.5 / 10
Replayability / Fun  7.0 / 10
"Ouch" Factor  7.0 / 10
Characters  7.0 / 10

 6.8 / 10



Final Words:

The 1-player experience & story mode of Card Fighters Clash is bland at best... the story is literally about a computer trying to take over the world with a card game. In any case, the story isn't what made the original Card Fighters Clash great, although it surely didn't hurt. The original CFC had a "relaxed" vibe about it, but this DS version is practically the opposite.

The 2-player battles are the reason to own Card Fighters DS, and it can actually become addicting if you find a human opponent or two that can offer a challenge. Being a fighting game / Capcom / SNK buff definitely adds to the enjoyment factor tenfold. The overall art style is nice to look at, and there are many memorable and cool-looking character cards that you'll want to have in your deck.

Overlooking the horrendous story, the bad translation, the messed up card descriptions, and the careless glitch in the US version (probably a bug tester not doing his job)... CFDS isn't a complete failure, and still offers some fun mind games with another human opponent. Some might call the gameplay system "broken," and I agree that it is... but again, it can still be fun.

However, Card Fighters DS simply can't hold a candle to the original Card Fighters Clash for the NeoGeo Pocket. The NGPC graphics and system specs might be far inferior, but once you learn the deepest aspects of the gameplay, you'll know why the original version is so much better.
~TFG Webmaster | @Fighters_Gen



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