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Flashback Feature: Marvel vs Capcom 2

mvc2It could be a little bit of cheating including Marvel vs Capcom 2 as a Flashback Feature, but it’s appropriate when it’s the same week as the game gets released for download on XBox Live Arcade.

Originally released in 2000 as a coin-op machine in arcades, swiftly followed by a home-console release on both the PS2 and the Dreamcast, Marvel vs Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes is the fourth and last game in a series of fighting games pitting characters from Marvel Comics against heroes and villains from Capcom produced games (just in case you hadn’t figured that much out from the name, of course.)The series stretches all the way back to the mid-1990s, when Capcom were licensed to produce several fighting games based on and including Marvel’s characters, including the X-Men and the Avengers. The first game to be released was 1994’s X-Men: Children Of The Atom, and like many other arcade games of the era, it was ported to the Sega Saturn and PlayStation. Utilising just X-Men characters, both heroes and villains, the game utilised graphics and engines from Capcom’s successful Street Fighter franchise, and was followed up in 1995 by Marvel Super Heroes (released on the same consoles) which took some of the successful characters and broadened the brief to include other Marvel heroes.

With both games proving successful, the Marvel license was then combined with Capcom’s own characters, starting small with a formula that past experience had proven: the 1996 release, X-Men vs Street Fighter would straddle both markets, appealing to fans of both the X-Men and Street Fighter franchises. Yet again, a year later the game was expanded upon to form Marvel Super Heroes vs Street Fighter. The full potential of the series wasn’t realised until 1998 with the arcade release of Marvel vs Capcom: Clash Of Super Heroes which no longer limited Capcom’s  roster to characters from the Street Fighter franchise, but also brought in characters from the Darkstalkers series (little known outside of Japan) and, more importantly, Mega Man. By the time the game got its home console release (1999 for the Dreamcast and 2000 for the PlayStation) work was already underway on the game’s sequel, and the biggest game in the franchise, Marvel vs Capcom 2.

20081013_9Why is this the biggest game in the series? Because Marvel vs Capcom 2 boasts a roster of 56 characters, most of them fully unlocked in the game’s downloadable release. For those gamers with just a PS3, the game will be released on the PSN on August 13th of this year. The full roster of characters provides a lengthy read, but includes Marvel’s Cyclops, Magneto, Spider-Man, Venom, Dr. Doom, Cable, Iron Man and Captain America and, from Capcom, Jill Valentine, Chun-Li, Ken, Ryu, Sakura and Mega Man.

Marvel vs Capcom 2 is unusual when compared to most fighting games in its choice of characters and implementation thereof. For all game modes, each player is expected to choose three characters (although with different costumer colours, it is possible to choose multiples of the same character.) Unlike many other games, the bout consists of one round, played until all of one team have been defeated. During gameplay, pushing the A/X or B/Y buttons together will tag-in one of the other characters, while the left and right bumbers summon each character for a one-attack assist. A four-level special metre can be seen at the bottom of the screen, allowing characters to trigger powerful combo attacks and, when completely full, an attack can be triggered including all three of the team’s characters.

Most of the game’s characters are evenly weighted: although there are some huge disparities in terms of size, speed and strength, most of the stronger characters have handicapped speed, and vice versa. Characters like Blackheart are capable of landing ferocious blows and easily sapping their opponent’s strength, but their size leaves them slower and open to attack, especially from quick, agile characters like Cammy, Chun-Li or Jill Valentine.

Marvel-Vs-Capcom-2-Hands-On-Preview

The game’s port to the XBox 360 is smooth, with most of the control system easily adapted for the system’s controller, with two of the four buttons each allocated for punch and kick attacks, one light and one heavy. Most special moves can be executed using either the light or heavy variant, with small changes to strength or direction. Motion can be input using either the D-pad or the controller’s left analogue stick, but this is one of the game’s weaknesses, with the analogue stick too small to use as an old-fashioned joystick and the D-pad not built for full-on continuous usage.

Graphically, the game suffers in only one respect: though a faithful port, there is often too much happening on-screen at one time, with moving backgrounds, special moves and several characters on screen at one time. It’s a small complaint, as these occasions are few and far between, but it can break into the gameplay at inopportune moments.

Nonetheless, the game proves a worthwhile play: at several hundred XBox points, the game provides more characters and more playability than many other full-price games released in the last few years. It will be of most interest to fans of Street Fighter or Marvel Comics, but there’s still enough original gameplay to also appeal to newcomers to the franchise.

Now, all we need is for the franchise to be completely updated, and for the release of a long-awaited Marvel vs Capcom number three.

Marvel vs Capcom 2 is available now for download through XBox Live Arcade and will be released on PlayStation Network on August 13th.

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  1. August 27, 2009 at 12:33 AM

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