UMvC3 on the Vita is a near-console perfect port that includes multiplayer support over the PSN, an (overly) simplified touch control scheme, and a new replay mode.
Between Nathan's review last February, and my brief update for the Ultimate version in November, this will essentially be the third time that we've looked at Marvel Vs Capcom 3 in a year's time. Still, each release is a legitimate upgrade or variant of the original. As you may know, the Ultimate Edition, released nine months after the original game, added twelve new playable characters (six for Capcom, six for Marvel), numerous balancing and gameplay tweaks, new and re-tweaked stages, and a spectator mode. This latest version, for the Vita, reduces some of the background animations and flashiness of some of those stages to help keep the action running silky smooth on the handheld, but also adds a touch control scheme and a nice Replay mode that allows you to review and share replays of fights.
The touch control scheme is included probably because Capcom felt it needed a little more incentive for potential consumers to pick up the Vita version, or maybe it was just easy to implement. Regardless, in practice, the touch controls can do one of two things: over-simplify the game, making it hollow and unsatisfying -- or, give very casual players a more accessible experience. I think most people considering picking this up are intending on using the face buttons because it's just the way to play, you know? It requires a little skill and it makes a fighting game worth playing. Sure I may have a hard time with reliably executing combos and special moves in lots of fighting games (especially SNK ones), but a super-simple control scheme is not the answer. That's why I think most gamers, no matter their skill level, will balk at the touch controls. I suppose it's nice they're included, but I would happily have traded them for additional modes or heck, even more characters.
All that said, the Vita's non-touch controls work great -- I was shocked at my own ability to pull off special moves with high consistency thanks to the responsiveness of both the d-pad and the left stick, which I switch back and forth between on the fly. Nothing could have hurt this Vita release more than bad controls, but fortunately that isn't a problem. Another potential pitfall for the Vita port could have been the presentation, or lack of features. Other than some stages being toned down just a little in terms of graphical activity, to save a few CPU/GPU cycles, as far as I can tell (I'm not an avid player of the console version), everything appears to be fully intact. Not only is it present, it looks practically identical to the console version. The framerates have stayed just as smooth as what I experienced on the 360.
One other perhaps lesser known feature of UMvC3 on the Vita is the Ultimate controller mode that requires you have the PS3 version of the game as well. If you fire up the game on your Vita, and your PS3, your Vita can act as a controller for the PS3 game. I saw a video of this recently, and if I recall, you can setup the front touchscreen with four different zones, with each zone mapped to a certain command. It's a neat idea, and I'm all for innovative things like that. I don't have a PS3 copy of UMvC3, but some players may find it to be a neat option to toy around with. Speaking of PS3/Vita compatibility, the Vita version is able to use any DLC that you have purchased for your PS3 copy. It's really refreshing to be able to say that in this day and age of publishers nickel and diming gamers at every turn.
I've contemplated talking about the gameplay and modes over again, but between the two links I shared at the start of this review, and of course the gobs of other coverage and videos of gameplay online, it really seems redundant. So I'll leave it at that, having talked about the key differences (and important similarities) that the Vita version brings to the table.
To the summary...