Capcom Vs. SNK: Millennium Fight 2000 was the game that fighting fans companies had clamoured for since videogames began,but  one they never thought would happen. It is also one of my most played games of all time as I spent hours upon hours unlocking all of the stages, costumes and characters, using the cumbersome Dreamcast controller, only for Capcom to release the Pro version with everything unlocked (and also featuring the mighty Dan Hibiki & Joe Higashi) only months later. Still, the game was a great experience and still remains a proud exclusive for the Sega Dreamcast.

While I usually love Capcom covers this one dissapoints

The game pitted the best characters from Capcom’s Street Fighter series against those from SNK’s King of Fighters franchise with the end result of a more gentler and deeper game than the previous Vs. titles. There a total of 28 characters from the two companies’ giant rosters which are selectable from the start and a further 5 which could be unlocked if various requirements were met. When I first played the game I was struck by just how good the 2D graphics were and it seemed a huge step from Street Fighter Zero 2 on the Sega Saturn. SNK characters in the game were completely re-drawn in a Capcom style and look significantly better than they did on the Neo Geo. Unfortunately, only a few of the Capcom characters like Ryu, Ken, & Vega (M. Bison),were completely re-drawn from the ground up. Similarly,  Gouki and Evil Ryu look especially good in their new sprites, while Street Fighter Zero sprites were used for some of the other characters like Chun Li, Blanka, & Sagat.

Awesome detailed CD

Notice the contrast in art style between the companies
The mechanics of the game were also quite different to anything that had come before in a Street Fighter game as the number of fighters you can select depends on the level ratio of each fighter. Each fighter in the game is rated between one (weakest) and four (strongest). A gamer's total ratio must equal four which means that they can have four level-one ratio fighters, one level-four ratio fighter, and so on. While most fans bemoaned this change, I enjoyed the fact that you could pit four so called ‘weaker’ characters such as Cammy, Dhalsim, Benimaru and Yuri against a boss-like character such as Orochi Iori or Evil Ryu. The game also features a Pair Match Mode, which allows a player to select any two fighters regardless of their ratio level.

The ratio component of the game was much maligned by fans

Once you’ve selected your team and battled through numerous matches, you'll reach of one of two final bosses which is M. Bison or Geese, depending on if you choose the SNK or Capcom groove. In typical Capcom fashion these bosses are extremely overpowered, especially Geese who I suspect led to a fair few broken Dreamcast controllers with his cheesy counters. In Capcom Groove, a fighter's level increases by using successful defensive and offensive strategies. With each increased level, more powerful attacks can be used. For those seeking a more simplistic way to pull off supers, SNK Groove simply requires players to charge their heavy punch and heavy kick buttons. Just like in 3rd STRIKE, the game evaluates your moves with grades of D, C, B, A and S, but unlike 3 Strike acquiring a high amount of points will result in a secret battle against one of the games super bosses like, Orochi Ioric, Gouki or Evil Ryu. Upon beating the game, they can also be used to purchase new characters and costumes in the game’s shop.

Classic fighting series' collide

Fortunately, Capcom Vs. SNK has  been designed with the Dreamcast and more specifically the console's controller in mind from the start. There are only strong punch and a strong kick, a weak punch and weak kicks, with mid-power attacks cut out of the game. This is great since it alleviates the need to use the incredibly out of the way trigger buttons on the system’s controller. The button and directional pad schemes for pulling off the moves in Capcom vs. SNK are much the same as the moves for Street Fighter, as opposed to King of Fighters, with lots of of charging back and semi, quarter, and three quarter stick movements.

While the gameplay and visuals are generally top quality, it is the stage designs that really stick out in Capcom Vs. SNK. The are typically 2D arenas but certain aspects are made up of 3D polygons such as spectators and parts of the scenery. I especially love the Tokyo arcade, 3rd Strike alley, and construction site stages which all have their distinct features such as parts of the scenery falling down around you as you pummel your opponent. Audio-wise, the remixes of classic Street Fighter tunes is pleasing and their are some catchy tunes amongst the stages.

Originally a Naomi title, the DC version is typically flawless

Unfortunately, the overall presentation in Capcom Vs. SNK is a little disappointing. Especially, the rather cheesy ending, with a FMV news report talking about the champions of the tournament (which no matter who you play as, ends up being Dan and Joe). Still, you can see the love which Capcom has put into the game and Capcom Vs. SNK was a fine game back at the turn of the millennium; building the groundwork for what would become one of the finest fighting games ever.

An interesting fact about the game is that it was one of the few games which allowed you to link the Sega Dreamcast to the Neo Geo Pocket Color. If you have an SNK handheld, and a copy of the NGPC game, SNK vs. Capcom: Match of the Millenium, then you can connect the two systems and transfer Versus Points back and forth between them which enable you to purchase secret options in Capcom Vs. SNK, or secret Super Combos in SvC: MotM; quite a useful feature, which sadly went unexploited due to the subsequent demise of both companies and their position as console manufacturers.

Artwork takes on a more comical style for Pro

As mentioned previously, Capcom soon followed up CvS with, Capcom Vs. SNK Pro. The 'Pro' edition is a tweaked re-release that made a few gameplay adjustments and unlocks all the hidden extras, while adding two new characters to the roster who were present in the games ending FMV but not in the game, Dan Hibiki and Joe Higashi. While the original Dreamcast version of Capcom Vs. SNK offered tons of bonus material it all had to be unlocked either by repeatedly finishing the game or by linking the Dreamcast to the aforementioned NGP to transfer versus points. Alternate 'EX' versions of existing characters can also now be played from the get-go, along with two hidden 'Ratio 2' fighters (Morrigan and Nakoruru) and three super-powerful 'Ratio 4' characters (Evil Ryu, Gouki and Orochi Iori).

Yes, Morrigan is really saying that, and yes its a commercial release!
Japanese reads "Oi, oi you're forgetting the main event"

Just like its big brother, CvS Pro was originally a Naomi arcade title so the Dreamcast port is arcade perfect, something i can't say for the awful stripped down PSone port released years later. Yet, while it's a fantastic version of an already great game it's a shame that Capcom didn’t clear up some of the complaints of the original. For example the character roster; which other than Morrigan, only featured Street Fighter characters on the Capcom side, and similarly Nakoruru was the only non King of Fighters character on the SNK one. The game was more Street Fighter Vs. King of Fighters, than Capcom Vs. SNK. There were also complaints of a lack of refinement in the gameplay, and still an uneven character balance. Luckily enough though, there was a sequel!