I have to be honest, I don’t have an extensive background with these two games. I played them a few times as a kid, but my hard found quarters were going into the MK machine 9 times out of 10. So while I haven’t “longed” for the downloadable release of the originals, I definitely respect the steps it took to deliver us the amazing Marvel vs. Capcom 2 and Marvel vs. Capcom 3.
Marvel Super Heroes was released in 1995 and was the second Capcom fighter to feature comic characters from the Marvel Universe. Here you will choose one from a handful of selectable fighters to do battle with. These range from the valiant Spiderman and Captain America to the nefarious Blackheart, Dr. Doom, and Shuma-Gorath. The fights seem to be a bit more on the methodical side than most 2D “bang ups” from this era. I mean, it’s still plenty fast, but a more focused and calculated approach lends itself to more frequent victories. Blackheart, for instance, has great projectile attacks, but his lumbering size makes him a bit of a chore to play with in close. One would think the size advantage over most characters would allow for an overwhelming “swarm” technique. Not so much. On the flip side, Spiderman can hold his own from inches away, despite the shorter stature. MSH incorporates a pretty cool system called Infinity Gems. What reminds me of Super Smash Bros. style item drops, the orbs are picked up and activated at the player’s discretion, and give certain “boosts.” You’ll have a timed increase of health, enhanced power, ect. Some effects are character specific. If Spidey inherits a Power gem, some attacks summon a cloned Web-slinger that smacks the opposite side of the opponent. This game is T-U-F-F tough, and I’ll need to play it more if I want to be decent at it. But the second feature came much more naturally to me.
Marvel vs. Capcom was the first fighter from the studio to combine characters from other Capcom IPs outside of just Street Fighter. First coming to arcades in 1998, Clash of Super Heroes saw hit stints at home on the Dreamcast and Playstation shortly after in ’99. In this one, you’ll knuckle up 2v2 style with short assists from a randomly given character. While not as “space conscience” as it’s packaged cousin in terms of play mechanics, this one definitely puts on a glitzier show. The action is fast and furious with crazy combos, lightening quick tags, and show stealing Hyper moves. The characters on this side are somewhat more “balanced,” but still have plenty of individual strengths and weaknesses. For instance, the Hulk is great for grab attacks and punches. But a “pip-squeak” in comparison like Mega Man can give him fits with projectiles and his short stance. Having two characters allows for added flexibility and strategy in this insane world. Starting a solid, all-around like Chun-Li in the stable grants you the “okay” to take someone like Gambit, who is a little hard to use but has a great Hyper. War Machine and Venom also proved to be a formidable foe while I was trying different lineups. Like I said, the twitchy-er nature of MvC opened the door for improv wins while I got accustomed to fighter tendencies and combinations. I liked this one a lot.
The presentation for both of these entries was true to form. None of that extensive HD graphical “overhaul” stuff. The look and sound will remind you of a dark arcade with Coke stained carpets and that old popcorn machine that creates magic in every bag. There are different filters than can be applied that actually do a really good job of smoothing out the rough edges. But don’t expect anything less than retro, double-digit bit count visuals. And the audio is just as cheesy and tinny as it was years ago. Not what I would call good, but extremely appropriate given the situation. One cool addition, though, are the different camera views available. The default one keeps the action in the center of the screen in 4:3 aspect ratio, but you have the option to “stretch” the image for application on a widescreen television/monitor. The coolest one is the “over the shoulder” view; a “caddy-corner” perspective showing a select portion of an upright cabinet that centers the machine’s screen. It’s really weird to actually play the game this way at first, but the unique outlook may grow on you.
The online play will be the biggest draw for some to download this fighter. To their delight, Origins enlisted the middleware programing extension GGPO. As all online fight fans well know, lag is a terrible issue for the millisecond-deciding nature of said genre. But this “network topology” analyzer places a buffer, of sorts, that translates player input to give the appearance of seamless transactions. Great step by Capcom to get some “outside help” in creating perhaps the fairest online fighting landscape currently available. What would a classic reboot be without extras? The Vault is the treasure chest of unlockables that trades performance earned credits for goodies. Accomplishing different benchmarks during gameplay banks in Cr.; from challenges like wining five straight arcade meetings, to conveniently titled stuff like The Shocker (executing a certain number of lightening attacks) and From the Shadows (completing melees with hidden characters). Pass these checkpoints, and go splurge on concept art, characters, vids, and more.