Mash-ups. Neither the fighting game genre nor comic books are strangers to the cross pollinating of two intellectual properties. Since first watching “The Jetsons Meet The Flintstones,” my fascination with mash-ups has been unquenchable. However, among those franchises that attempt the delicate cross breeding, very few are a success. Marvel vs. Capcom 2 is one of those few.
The game, originally released for the Dreamcast, is being ported over to the PS3 and Xbox 360 this summer. It will contain all of the original features of the game, as well as utilize existing online gaming services. The full 56 combatant roster is present and accounted for from the get go. No unwieldy unlocking necessary.
The PS3 demo version I played only contained the multiplayer functionality of the game unlocked. So if you’re looking to start some solo sparing, you’re out of luck. However, I was fortunate to have a buddy handy to start the chaotic clash of pixels and panels.
Let me start off by saying that I have never played Marvel vs. Capcom 2, so my view of the game is completely unaffected by an existing bias for other versions. That being said, the game greets you with a jazzy, repetitive soundtrack that insists it’s going to “take you for a ride.” Navigating the menus is simple enough, but setting up the match is a bit of a process.
Each match consists of a 3-on-3 tag team battle royale. In the demo, Wolverine, Iron Man, Spiderman, Ryu, Chun Li, and Strider were the only playable characters. As you select the characters, the game automatically suggests which type (air, ground, capture, etc) of fighter would best compliment the primary character you selected. Naturally, my friend and I pitted the Marvel characters versus the Capcom ones.
Once the battle started, I was was amused to see Wolverine and Ryu standing before one another, rage brimming in their eyes. Armed with my knowledge of Street Fighter II moves, I was able to pull off a flurry of moves as the wandering martial artist. As we madly manipulated the controls, we marveled at the mayhem which crowded the screen.
Along with the stock punches and kicks, the shoulder buttons of the PS3 controller unleash quick partner assisted attacks. As Wolverine, my buddy would simultaneously be shredding me apart as he summoned Iron Man to jump in, eradicate me with his “uni beam” laser, and hop back out. Between the tight, fast paced combat, vibrant character sprites, and explosive partner attacks, it became incredibly hard to keep focused on exactly what was happening onscreen. The chaos reaches its boiling point when both shoulder triggers are pressed, calling all 3 characters on screen at once for one devastating display of cooperative carnage.
If the crowded, dizzying action overwhelms one of your characters to near death, you can tag out another character to let them catch their breath. As Strider leaps in to replace Ryu, the retreating fighter can regain a small amount of health as indicated by the red portion of the health bar. The character swapping mechanic allows for a plethora of tactics to be utilized like in no other fighting game. Not only does the fighter exchange allow bloodied brawlers a brief respite, but it allows you to chain combos with mutliple characters. If you’re interested in seeing Wolverine, Iron Man, and Spiderman unleash jaw dropping, endless mid-air assaults on Chun Li in tandem, be prepared to practice. Marvel vs. Capcom 2 is definitely easy to learn but hard to master.
If you’re expecting a graphical upgrade like Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix, be prepared for disappointment. This is a straight port. The sprites are the same as they were so many years ago, but that doesn’t stop them from being gorgeous.
My overall impression of the demo is that the game offers enough character variety to initially attract anyone to pick up a controller. With the likes of iconic characters such as Mega Man, Jill Valentine, Juggernaut, Gambit, M. Bison, and Akuma all facing off against one another, the possibilities for fun are endless. Throw in all these options with online play, Marvel vs. Capcom 2 definitely deserves your attention come summer 2009.