Recently, Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 was announced for the Playstation Network and XBox Live Arcade. While this was cool, it wasn’t a surprise to anyone, either (someone I know from another website I visit called it “the gaming industry’s worst-kept secret”). Still, when it was officially announced, even though we all saw it coming, most people were happy to hear it.
Personally, I was a little skeptical at first until Capcom released a fact sheet about the game. Most people were probably thrilled to hear about the netplay, or the anti-aliasing options. What finally got me excited about the release was the mention that the game would be based off of the Sega Dreamcast version.
What does this mean? Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 will be “Arcade Perfect”, meaning that there are no gameplay-based phenomena that occur unless it would happen in the original arcade version. If you don’t know why this is important, get ready for an important lesson.
I consider myself part of the hardcore fighting game fanbase – at least, for 2D fighters. What this means is that I treat 2D fighters like a sport, not a game. I will do whatever it takes to win the game outside of cheating. Most people who play fighting games are of the more casual fanbase; that is, they play just for the fun of picking the game up and playing.
They might play to win, too; however, what separates them from the hardcore fans is that they don’t put in the serious amount of time and dedication it takes to get really good, or they might find using certain tactics to be ‘cheap’ and unethical, like using the same moves repeatedly, or running away. A hardcore player not only knows how to deal with people who do this, but show no mercy to those that don’t.
To the more casual fans, the concept of arcade perfection probably matters much less. And, let me just make a disclaimer at this point: there’s nothing wrong with being a casual fan of fighters. It’s a lot of work to play a fighting game for blood, for the sport of true competition, and not everyone wants to do that.
Thankfully, you don’t have to do that to have fun playing a fighter. Still, for the fans of the genre who have the most fun playing an opponent who can equal or best them, forcing them to play the most flawless game possible, arcade perfection is the most important feature of a console fighting game release.
It might be hard to understand why arcade perfection is so important without any qualifications. So, to help explain, let’s imagine a few different scenarios:
- Let’s pretend that, if you were playing Chess, and your opponent tried to capture a piece with his pawn by moving straight forward, instead of diagonally-forward like they normally have to. When you try to protest this, no spectators find it weird. After all, this is how they’ve always played Chess, and can imagine nothing different.
- What if, when you were playing baseball and if you hit a fly ball, the runners didn’t have to tag up? Can you imagine some of the outrageous things that would happen as a result?
- What if, in football (American football; sorry to all you non-Americans, we’re culturally insensitive), if you ran a punt play near your opponent’s end zone, you could punt it backwards across their end zone, and it would count as a field goal for you?
If you know anything about these games, I’m sure these situations all sound completely stupid. These are competitive games whose rules have been tweaked to perfection and have withstood the test of time. Anyone who knows anything about the games would never contest that. What you have just read is exactly how we feel when a game isn’t arcade perfect. It baffles us when the console release of a game takes the initiative to change things that we take for granted as being a certain way, or vice versa.
Arcade perfection was a rarity until the last five years or so. To be honest, the notion of arcade perfection was a joke until the advent of CD-ROM gaming. Before that, and even at the beginning of CD-ROM gaming) many games had several things changed. The graphics and the sizes of characters might be different, which affects what moves and combos work on characters, or the overall game speed.
Some console ports changed or removed some attacks entirely, or even cut out frames of animation. Granted, this wasn’t as important back then, because arcades were still incredibly popular, and anyone worth their salt back then was playing coin-op.
Arcade perfection was a distant dream until the Sega Saturn came around. Here, we finally saw a near-perfect port of Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo, or “ST” for short – the version of Street Fighter 2 that saw the most tournament play (and is still the most popular one in Japan). There were also a number of “Vs.” games that saw arcade-perfect releases, such as X-Men Vs. Street Fighter. Compare it to the Playstation version, where you could only play tag-team style – the main gimmick of the Vs. series – if you put in a special code and your friend picked the same characters that you did. I bet arcade perfection is beginning to sound pretty nice, huh?
There were a few more arcade-perfect ports on the Dreamcast; notably, ST got the best console port around until Capcom re-released ST on Street Fighter 2 HD Remix (The “Classic Mode” is a modified version of the Dreamcast port of ST). Most notably, the Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 port on Dreamcast is still the best console version by far, if you ask hardcore MvC2 players.
Arcade Perfection finally became a huge deal on the Playstation 2, Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 and ST aside (though there was a valiant attempt for ST!). We finally saw arcade perfect releases of all the Street Fighter Alpha games, and 99% perfect releases of Street Fighter 3: 3rd Strike (ironically, the DC port of this game was awful) and Guilty Gear XX: Accent Core. Now that we have the means to do so, companies are becoming more aware of how important this is to the diehard fanbase. And, with arcades on life support, along with the advent of online gaming, the timing couldn’t be better.
Sometimes, the developers re-release their games to try and make corrections to the game’s rules and balance. This can be a touchy subject for the competitive fighting gamer. The hardcore fanbase tends to be very purist, and there are very few things which they are okay with changing.
For example, the Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 port which we will receive for PSN and XBLA will reportedly have glitches removed which crash the game, or virtually end a match, forcing the timer to run out. These are things that are not even allowed in tournaments, so as far as the hardcore fighting gamer is concerned, we would be better off without these.
However, there are quite a few games which are shunned by the fanbase for making changes. One of the biggest examples is Street Fighter Alpha 3 Upper, an updated release of SFA3 by Capcom. This was meant to help balance the game, but what it really did was wind up removing a lot of glitches which made the game more fun, and even helped the weaker characters in the game become competitive. So, while it’s true that there were ‘glitches’ removed from the game, they truly made the game more enjoyable, and gave it more depth.
If the idea of people wanting to keep glitches seems like a weird concept to you…well, it is. However, it’s important to note that there’s merit to the idea. For example, Street Fighter 2 introduced the concept of canceling normal moves into special moves to make combos. Believe it or not, that was a glitch, and now it’s one of the main foundations upon which fighting game engines are built! When looking at a glitch, one must think hard about its overall effect on the game, and most hardcore fans conclude that glitches that don’t stall the game make them more fun.
To conclude, I’ll reiterate that there’s nothing wrong if this sort of issue is not the kind that you take to heart as a fan of the genre. Still, I hope this was a fun bit of insight into what the more competitive types value in a console port of a fighting game, and how arcade perfection is a concept that can truly affect anyone’s enjoyment of the game. No matter what kind of fan you are, there hasn’t been a better time to be a fan since the golden era of arcades! Now, all we need is better netplay…