Capcom vs. SNK 2: Mark of the Millennium 2001 (Millionaire Fighting 2001 in Japan) is the second game in the Capcom vs. SNK series, developed by Capcom and released to arcades worldwide in August 2001, with the Dreamcast (Japan only) and PlayStation 2 versions releasing later that year. A dream crossover between the two juggernauts of the 1990s arcade fighting game scene, it is universally regarded as one of the greatest fighting games of all time. After a lukewarm reception to Capcom vs. SNK: Millennium Fight 2000, Capcom quickly moved to develop a bigger and bolder sequel.
Capcom vs. SNK 2 is a 2D team fighting game (non-tag) with 44 playable characters (48 in the home console versions) across XX Capcom and SNK fighting game franchises. Its signature gameplay features are the free ratio system, which allows for teams of one, two, or three fighters of variable strength; and its six Grooves that mimic the fighting styles and super meter systems of past Capcom and SNK games.
The character variety and groove system is at the heart of what makes CvS2 a technical classic. With all the choices available, choosing the right groove and assembling the right team may be daunting at first. However, players that dig into the game will find things only get more interesting as they try to apply their knowledge when facing new character, groove, and player style combinations.
Though an old game by today’s standards, the aesthetics of CvS2 hold up very well. Though a traditional 2D fighting game, stages are rendered in 3D and look great, whether connected to an old-school CRT TV, connected to an HD monitor with a proper digital output, or emulated on PCs. The music is unique for a fighter, especially the most recognizable track in CvS2. References and easter eggs are abound with dozens of special character introductions, cameos in stage backgrounds.
The game also features one of the most iconic and authoritative K.O. flourishes in fighting game history, the event from which this website proudly takes its name: The Finest K.O.
Another key feature of CvS2, both its most important and its most controversial, is Roll Cancelling, a gameplay bug-turned-feature. An oversight in the implementation of the tactical roll, combined with Capcom’s forgiving special move input system, effectively makes special moves invincible.
As much as this sounds like a game-breaking bug, it was quickly accepted by the CvS2 community. Roll cancelling required additional skills to consistently execute the cancel and brought extra depth in top-tier matchups. It also gave gave mid-tier characters additional tools to make them viable for high-tier tournament play.
CvS2EO, the GameCube and Xbox version of CvS2 released in 2003, fixed this gameplay bug. However, it was ignored in the competitive community, keeping roll cancelling tournament-legal to this day. (The GameCube version of CvS2EO, however, is currently best-available experience for online play through PC emulation.)
In spite of how roll cancelling permeates CvS2, learning it is not a requirement to excel in the game. Indeed, many of the top players of the past and present, including two of the three best active players in the world, use grooves that don’t have a roll and therefore cannot roll cancel. The variety present the groove system and in character choices is robust enough that the game still manages to be fairly balanced regardless.
In fact, the mid-tier experience is where CvS2 is the most fun to play. We will all inevitably face the same five to seven top-tier characters over and over again. Even so, there will always be new or rare matchups to see. CvS2 will challenge paper knowledge of character and grooves pairings that you don’t often face. Experienced CvS2 players will have a second team or even third team, almost always in a different groove than their primary. This practice can help expand player knowledge databases, but most of us will tell you we’re really picking our pocket teams just to have some fun!
Capcom vs. SNK 2 was a landmark release for fighting games. To the olds in the FGC, it holds a special place in our hearts, a culmination of everything we loved about Capcom, SNK, and playing fighting games in an arcade. Ironically, the game that marked the dawn of a new millennium instead marked the end of an era. Capcom’s dominance started to wane in the years after CvS2, opening the door for other companies to make a splash as the FGC moved to the home console market and slowly started to choke to death our beloved hole-in-the-wall arcades.
For players newly discovering the game, some of whom may have not even been born when the game came out, CvS2 can be seen as a museum piece, a thing that encapsulates everything we loved (and hated) about fighting games in the 1990s. Beloved characters from both sides of the aisle, grooves that call on some of the other greatest fighting games of the age—and the quaint reality that arcade games will forever exist as they were released, with roster imbalances and gameplay bugs that will never see an update or patch.