The Capcom "Vs" series has been going for quite some time now, and has so far imbibed Marvel superheroes and SNK's distinctive arrangement of fighters, but this is the first time - some months after SNK's unfortunate demise - that the firm's characters have appeared on PlayStation. The subtitle, "Millennium Fight 2000" perhaps best highlights how long it's been waiting to make its mark, and potential buyers should bear in mind that this is not the decidedly superior Capcom Vs. SNK 2, but an enhanced port of the Dreamcast release of the 'original' game.
Capcom Vs. SNK Pro is, like many of the developer's creations, a game of surprising depth. When you've been producing 2D beat 'em ups for as long as they have, you learn a thing or two about how to make a compelling one. As a blend of Capcom and SNK, the game offers far more than just a handful of different characters, with two distinctive combat dynamics and a total of 30 characters from the Street Fighter and King of Fighters series. It will take you months to explore the intricacies of each and every one, even though all the moves and such are laid bare in the game's manual. Apart from learning how best to block, counter, combo and perform special moves, the game boasts two fighting "Grooves" to master - one for Capcom, and one for SNK. Both have you building up a gauge as you attack, but the Capcom gauge grows with every blow, whilst the SNK gauge pays attention only to heavy punches and kicks. When the gauge is full, Capcom Groovers can unleash three levels of spectacular Super Combos, but SNK Groovers are given only a few seconds to perform Super Moves.
Technically speaking, the game sits between good and bad - the control system works beautifully on the PlayStation pad, which features arguably the best directional pad of any console on the market, but it can take an age to load even the character select screen. The graphics offer nothing new, although the backgrounds and fighters are sufficiently detailed, and while there are multiple game modes, the only ones of substance are the basic arcade, versus and pair (tag team) match modes - the others all fall into the filler category, with options to unlock game art and change your character's appearance amongst them.
There's a tremendous amount of depth of gameplay hiding behind the game's unassuming cover, but it's only really worth buying if you don't own, can't afford, or don't want a PlayStation 2, or you don't have a Dreamcast, or even a Saturn with a memory boosting card. Becoming a truly great fighter will take you time, but you may find that the game's single player mode holds little water once you've become proficient, and finding suitably skilled opponents is a bit of a lottery. After all, most of them will be off playing Capcom Vs. SNK 2 on other systems…