Three amazing fighting games came out in 2010. Two of them slithered into the public consciousness and became massive hits – Super Street Fighter IV and Blazblue. One of them slipped into obscurity, rarely talked about and available in all good bargain bins up and down the country.
That game, Tatsunoko vs Capcom: Ultimate All Stars, was the first release in Capcom’s vs series for more than seven years, and it continued the tradition of frantic, bombastic, super-powered tag team battling established by its forebears. It also pioneered a new look for the series with 3D models replacing 2D sprites and, even though it appeared only on the Wii, it was flabbergastingly beautiful.
Fast forward more than a year, and the next instalment in the series is on the horizon, but this time it’s a direct sequel to one of the greatest 2D fighters of all time. Not only does it have to follow a title as ridiculously good as Tatsunoko, it also has to keep up the pace set by its big sister. No pressure then. Ladies and gentlemen, might I present Marvel vs Capcom 3.
For those who’ve been hidden under a rock for the past decade, MvC3 does almost exactly what it says on the tin. There are Capcom characters, there are Marvel characters. You pick three, then have an almighty, utterly insane fight. Simple. But at the same time, massively complex.
The game is a three on three tag team fighter featuring more than 30 characters ranging from the obvious to the maddeningly obscure. Ever wanted to see Ryu from Streetfighter punch She-Hulk in the neck? How about seeing M.O.D.O.K doing weird brain attacks against Hsien Ko from Darkstalkers? Then this is the game for you.
The game has the same focus on air juggling and massive super combos as Tatsunoko, but takes everything up a notch. The blistering speed of MvC2 seems to have been dialed down this time, but anyone who’s only played Street Fighter IV is in for a bit of a shock. Bouts fly by at breakneck speed, with special and super moves exploding on a regular basis.
Exploding is the right word, as every move has its own distinct, exuberant flair. You can expect to be pulling off huge hit combos with ease and wowing your friends with your mad violence skills. Of course, you can expect a nuanced, perfectly balanced battle system as well, because that’s what Capcom are best at.
The control system is a simplified version of Street Fighter’s familiar six button set up. There are three attack buttons, representing light, medium and high attacks, and an exchange button, which is context sensitive. It can be used to launch opponents into the air, as well as swapping characters mid combo to continue the attack further than you’d be able to otherwise.
This may seem to some a dilution, but in practise it works remarkably well. Far from turning the game into a button mashing mess, the less complicated control system allows for more precise inputs – essential if you want to master the game.
Capcom also promise a Simple Mode which makes things even easier. It limits the moves you can perform, but makes it less complex to perform the ones you’ve got left. There’ll also be various single player modes, all of them more robust than they have been in MvC3’s predecessors.
There’s a story about collapsing dimensions, ultimate evils and dastardly deeds somewhere underneath the pugilism, but it’s peripheral to the actual violence, as you might expect. Still, it’s written by Marvel Comics scribe Frank Tieri, so you can expect it to at the very least make sense.
Of course, nowadays you can’t have a brawler without a decent online mode, and MvC3 seems to be no exception. Capcom are implementing a battle card system which will give you information about your opponents play habits – from their playing style to the number of wins and losses they’ve notched up.
That said, nothing beats the simple thrill of taking on a friend in the same room, and MvC3’s ability to cater for different skill levels could well balance that playing field as well. More than that though, the incredibly OTT art style is just a joy to behold. From the character models to the highly detailed backgrounds, right down to the text letting you know when it’s time to start kicking, everything is designed to elicit a smile from even the gloomiest hearted gamer.
Capcom saw their domination of the fighting game genre slip towards the end of 2010, with Blazblue: Continuum Shift showing that sprite based games still have some spirit left in them. MvC3 is an important title for the Japanese developer, allowing them to show that they’re still at the top of their game. From what we’ve seen, and played, it could well do a lot more than that.
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