Match of the Millennium

Neo Geo Pocket

Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 9.5

Sound: 9.5

Gameplay: 10

Overall: 9.5

Portable games have a long history in our industry. Whether it was those cheap Tiger LCD games you played during your lunch time in grade school to the new fangled Game Boy Advance, nearly everyone has experienced gaming on the go. The number of people who have experienced portable gaming to the absolute max, however, is slim. Match of the Millennium is an extension of the arcade and home versions, but shockingly, this little Neo Geo Pocket port is better....a lot better.

The majority of the most popular characters from both companies are represented here in full force, each in their own super-deformed style. Though there is some room to gripe about the character selection (Blanka? Please?), anyone who's ever played a fighting game will be able to relate to someone here.

Unlike the bigger versions of the game, there is a ton of freedom here to decide how you want to fight. Your not confined to a 3-on-3 team battle (though it is available). You can go solo if you so choose against the evils of Bison and Geese or go the tag-team route, much like Capcom's "Vs." series. As an added bonus, your not confined to two "grooves," but now your faced with the decision of playing with three different ones. Each, as usual, has their own distinct advantages and move sets, making this a perfect game for the crazy fighting game fan that will invest countless hours perfecting every single one of them.

You start with a healthy roster of characters, but there are 8 more available as you continue to beat the game. The only way to unlock these characters is to play through the tournament mode. You'll slowly reveal pieces to a picture puzzle the more times you beat it. The higher the difficulty, the more pieces are revealed, the faster you get characters. Be forewarned, no matter how good you are, taking one Evil Ryu or Orichi Iori is damn near impossible on the hardest levels. Hell, it's not even a guarantee on the easy levels.

Taking this one down just a bit are the controls which make those final battles all the more difficult. Their not completely crippling, but pulling off moves like a dragon punch can be infuriating at times. Fireball half circle (or quarter circle) motions are flawless with the NGP's pad. Even the insanely difficult 360 moves can be pulled off with ease, you just need to be patient with other moves that require extreme precision. Otherwise, 2-in-1's have never been easier to pull of and super combos are a cinch.

If you're tired of the same old tournament mode, head over the Olympics. This is where this game blows completely past it's home console brethren. Here we have a selection of 14 mini games, 7 on the SNK side, 7 more on the Capcom side. These 2 sides share the usual survival modes, one-hit, and time trials. The other challenges include an outstanding King Arthur style game patterned after those old Tiger handhelds mentioned above, a Parappa style dance game, and an incredibly cool Metal Slug light gun type game (with hidden characters here too!).

Of course, these games are here for a reason, not to simply sap your time. Beating these and earning the medals (hence, the "Olympic" reference) gets the player points to earn new moves and power up characters. If you want, you can create your own team of fighters, name them, give them a quote to spout off when they win, pick a theme song, and even name them. This makes the Olympic mode even more valuable as you can power up your team as much as possible (or even single character and tag teams as there are options to create your own here too) and tackle your friends team who has hopefully done the same.

All of Capcom's characters are making their first appearance on SNK's portable (and also, sadly, their last) and look outstanding. Tough the 3-color sprite limitation is disappointing, the animation more than makes up for any color issues. Most of the SNK side has been lifted from their own fighters, most with new animations and maybe even a big larger in size. The excruciatingly detailed backgrounds are taken right from the KOF, Darkstalkers, and Street Fighter series. A few new ones lifted from the console versions have been included as well. The cinemas are also wonderfully detailed and actually provide much more insight into the story than the popular home ports.

Thankfully, instead of the grating techno tracks featured in the larger versions, all the great music we know and love has been included. From Kens upbeat, thoroughly engrossing classic to Harohmaru's deliberately slow paced, classic Japanese theme, there all here. This adds SO much to the game for the hardcore fighting game and it was sorely missed from the initial release. Connect a pair of headphones to hear some outstanding use of stereo during the fights, especially with the soundtrack. None of the voices have been included, but it's probably for the better considering the sound chip inside the lowly portable. Besides, it's more fun to yell them out yourself....just don't do it in public, ok?

This is the ultimate portable video game. Not only will it keep you busy for months on end unlocking moves and characters, your sure to come back for more simply for the perfection that has been achieved here. The majority of this console's library is simply outstanding, but MOTM outshines 'em all. You MUST own this game. My mere words are not enough. It must be experienced.


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Last updated: Monday, September 26, 2005 05:24 PM