Ever wondered who would win in a match between Street Fighter III's fearsome near-naked muscleman, Urien, and DarkStalkers' frisky near-naked cat girl, Felicia? No? At any rate, the answer to this and many other obscure fighting-game crossover-match questions may be found in Capcom Fighting Evolution. This is a competent product, offering a fair variety of characters and the responsive controls you'd expect from a Capcom fighting game. But it also feels like a relic, with its bare-bones set of options and decided lack of distinguishing features. The game is clearly best suited for hardcore fans of Capcom's fighting games, who might enjoy exploring some of the nuances here but probably won't find much reason to keep coming back. At least this version offers online play through Xbox Live to make up for the fact that it's hitting shelves half a year later than the otherwise identical PS2 version.
Capcom Fighting Evolution is essentially a typical one-on-one 2D fighting game, in which you compete with either another player or a computer-controlled opponent in best-of-three-round martial art matches. Purists will appreciate that it features the classic Street Fighter-style six-button control scheme. The game's main twist is that, instead of choosing just one fighter per match, you choose two. This implies some sort of a tag-team fighting system, as in Capcom's "Versus" games, but Capcom Fighting Evolution isn't that complex. You pick two characters only, so you can optionally alternate characters between rounds. So, for example, you might form a team consisting of Zangief the pro wrestler and Demitri the vampire, reserving the latter for use against pesky fireball throwers like Ryu, while letting the former and his signature spinning pile driver do most of the work. Since you decide which character to use in each round, you don't even have to use both of your selected fighters. As such, Capcom Fighting Evolution's system is rather simple, but nonetheless marginally different from that of most other fighting games, which makes it interesting.
In recent years, some of Capcom's fighting games have asked you to choose between some esoteric fighting systems in addition to choosing your characters. Capcom Fighting Evolution also features different systems, but these are dependent on the characters you choose and the games from which they come. This is the game's other twist. For example, if you choose Street Fighter III's buffed-up brawler, Alex, you'll be able to parry incoming attacks by tapping forward on the D pad at the last possible instant, since all Street Fighter III characters could parry in this fashion. Or, if you play as Street Fighter Alpha's ninjutsu master, Guy, you'll be able to use alpha counters to immediately follow up a blocked attack with another strike.
These different fighting systems also govern the respective characters' supermoves. Some types of characters can use their supermoves more quickly, while other characters' supers are more powerful, and stuff like that. There's not that drastic of a difference from one fighting system to the next, but the subtle differences between them do give the game some depth. It helps to some extent that many of the fighters have been at least slightly tweaked since you last saw them. For instance, the Street Fighter III characters have access to multiple supermoves during a match, whereas in all previous versions of Street Fighter III, you were forced to choose a single supermove prior to each match. Nevertheless, the balance is still pretty suspect, as there seems to be no one in this game that a good Ryu or Zangief couldn't thrash.