It’s sad when sequels don’t live up to their progenitors. It’s even worse when the original was a game worth buying a system for. You can’t buy that kind of hype, and it’s a damned shame when it’s wasted on a game that ships with a game-breaking bug and just isn’t anywhere near as fun to play as the original. And that’s why you should find a Neo-Geo Pocket Color and a copy of Card Fighter’s Clash.
Games aren’t supposed to ship with errors. They’re especially not supposed to ship with errors that make the game impossible to complete. SNK has offered to replace the defective cartridges, but it’s a small consolation. You’ll have to redo everything on the new cartridge and with a story as weak as Card Fighters DS‘s you’ll have a hard time going through it all again.
Card battle games can survive with a weak story, but they can’t be fun when the battle system just doesn’t work. Those are really the only two things that a card battle game has: story and a battle system. It’s difficult to judge this game against its predecessor, but the predecessor was too good to ignore. In the original, each competitor could have up to three cards in play at any given time. This made the game strategic. It was important to choose your cards wisely, and it made the game easy to learn but difficult to master. In what could only be thought of as an upgrade, Card Fighters DS allows up to eight cards on the field at a time. This removes the strategy featured in the original and turns the update into a race to get the most cards into play.
In addition to a thin story and an overly forgiving battle system, Card Fighters DS goes out of its way to make things difficult to understand by featuring one of the worst translations available. Not since Zero Wing has the English language been butchered so badly. The translation is bad enough that it can be difficult to discern just what each card does, and that’s something of a problem when a game is build on cards that feature a lot of text.
SNK vs. Capcom Card Fighters DS isn’t a good game, and it’s only made worse by the shining example of card-based excellence that is the Neo-Geo Pocket Color’s Card Fighter’s Clash. Bad text, overly forgiving battles, and a bug that keeps the player from finishing the game make this a game that should be passed on. Stay strong. You’ll find that NGPC and Card Fighter’s Clash at a garage sale someday.