Sometimes there’s a game that just seizes upon you, and you become so taken with it that you need more to satisfy some inner longing built from its excellence. In these cases, there’s been plenty of ample sequels or prequels to fulfill that itch for me. These are the franchises I have been following the closest over my gaming existence, the ones that I hold the highest standards to and anticipate the greatest. They are not in any real order, because that would be agonizing to determine what I love more. It’s hard enough with individual games – uniting them all would be a nightmare. However, I will go into what game left the impact and which of the series I adore the most, as well as discuss each game I have (or have not, and explain why) played and its furthering impact upon my feelings. There’s nine that I consider the finest – let’s examine my second.
Capcom Vs. Games (Capcom)
Game That Left the Impact – Marvel Vs. Capcom (Arcade/Dreamcast)
The Game I Adore – Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom (Wii)
This one is a little broader than my other choices. Capcom merging up with another company for a fighter mash-up seems to be a formula of success, and it works especially well on me, as I have adored the majority of these crossovers. With Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 out this week, I felt it was a good time to share why I am infatuated with these more than any other fighting franchise (outside of Street Fighter, which I will cover later).
What I’ve Tried
X-Men Vs. Street Fighter – A good beginning to the insanity of the Marvel/Tatsunoko branches of the Capcom Vs. tree, X-Men Vs. Street Fighter brought together some of the most popular mutants of the ’90′s (including the awesome Gambit, who I already miss from MvC3) with the latest Alpha spritework of Street Fighter’s elite (plus the introduction of Cammy’s Shadoloo look), and while it feels a bit rudimentary compared to later chapters, it’s a very solid game that deserves its praise.
Marvel Vs. Capcom – The first game I played remains special to me. Opening up both company’s full catalogs of characters was a brilliant stroke, enabling Mega Man, Strider and Morrigan to tangle with Capt. America, Venom and the Hulk (granted, Hulk and Cap were in Marvel Vs. Street Fighter…but I digress. Venom really was the only new Marvel face in this game beyond Onslaught). It amped up the craziness to awe-inspiring levels with its crossover madness, giving both fighters the chance to call in their teammate and control them both in a sprite orgy later chapters have shied away from. Despite the three-on-three matchups and a focus on visual overload of the sequels, I don’t know if they’ve quite recaptured the brazenness of the original. That’s not a bad thing, of course…
Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 – I owe a lot to MvC2. It got me hyped up like few other games have, and also sparked the interest in writing about games. The game itself was also significant, as it was the one that refined my Capcom fighter knowhow into something more than a scrub rookie (well, I may still be scrubby, but at least I’m a competent scrub!). It led to some of the finest matchups I’ve engaged in fighter-wise, and despite its massive roster that had obvious tiers, I’ve always lived it up with low to mid-tier characters and have refused to assist. Despite that, I did fairly well! I’ll always cherish my time with MvC2, although it’s not my favorite title in the pack.
Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 – Returning to the Marvel series after a ten year break was probably a wise decision on Capcom’s part – it feels fresh, and with a lot of character mix-ups, that may be a major reason. However, before I could really get into it, they announced ULTIMATE Marvel Vs. Capcom 3, which sapped any interest I would have had in continuing to learn this one, so I sold it off. Eh. When I get ULTIMATE (used down the road), I’ll tell you what I think of it.
Capcom Vs. SNK - The combination of two of fighting’s greatest companies was an incredible thing back in the early 2000′s, and the first game tried to mix things up by instituting a forced tier system to its combatants, which was an unfortunately bad idea in the end. Being a much more restrained game than MvC, this felt much more like a standard Street Fighter game, but with some of SNK’s greats along for the ride…which was perfectly fine, I assure you! Capcom did justice with their new SNK spritework, making them the star of the show (thanks to Capcom lazily reusing a lot of their Street Fighter Alpha sprites for their side, excluding Ryu, Ken, Akuma and Bison XD ). However, the tier restrictions made the game more cumbersome than necessary, and the sequel fixed nearly every issue this game had, so I sold this off. I will admit that I liked the backgrounds and music much more here, as they were an actual celebration of the two company’s past compared to the sequel’s. Random cameos do not equate to actual locations from these universes.
Capcom Vs. SNK 2 – Capcom corrected all of the design errors of the original here – the tiers could be assigned to any character, or could be ignored completely. The roster opened up for some non-Street Fighter and King of Fighters entries, and also bulged to a impressive 40+ selections of some of the best both companies had to offer (although fans could think of plenty of missed opportunities), and the gameplay systems expanded from two systems to six, giving some variety to the proceedings. I would say that this is among my absolute favorite fighters, no question.
Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom – Not sure what exactly happened; perhaps the nine year impasse between Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 and Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom did wonders, as TvC is the most balanced fighter in the tag-based series (outside of Zero, who is really easy to dominate with here), and despite the roster being less than half the size of MvC2, it manages to feel fresher thanks to the kooky Tatsunoko cast and their very unique gameplay aspects. Capcom mixed up their roster as well, foregoing the majority of their pre-established fighters from MvC’s cast (Ryu, Chun-Li and Morrigan are it) and throwing in some of their more eclectic heroes (Kaijin no Soki, Saki, Mega Man Volnutt, Alex, and Batsu, for starters). As of right now, I consider this one of Capcom’s finest efforts in this line of fighting history.
What Haven’t I Played?
Marvel Vs. Street Fighter – Not for lack of trying, but for lack of seeing a cabinet of it. Although, it’s sort of an awkward transition between X-Men Vs. Street Fighter and Marvel Vs. Capcom, with some of its creative spark stripped out and a roster that barely mixed things up (only Sakura and Dan were new, and that’s a stretch). I don’t think I’m missing much.
ULTIMATE Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 – I’m not double dipping and paying Capcom twice for the game I should have gotten the first time. If it’s cheap and used, I’ll get it then.
SNK Vs. Capcom Chaos – SNK developed their own crossover title, but its release for the Xbox alone has made it impossible for me to try. It’s been reviewed harshly, but I wouldn’t mind giving it a shot.
Capcom Fighting Evolution – Capcom tried to do their own mash-up with their own franchises, which failed miserably as a game thanks to its laziness and poor implementation. I don’t think I feel compelled enough to pick this up, personally.
What Makes It One of the Best?
Insanity – Not so much for Capcom Vs. SNK, which is much more constrained, but Marvel and Tatsunoko crossovers set out to stun you with an array of chaos. With huge combos, jaw-dropping supers and a playfield filled to the brim with effects, beams and bodies, it’s a spectacle that has rarely been topped. And that’s part of the fun.
Rich Rosters Full of History – All three Vs. series have had great lineups to try out. While the first Capcom Vs. SNK played it relatively safe, its sequel brought in several surprises (Eagle from SF1? Maki from Final Fight 2? Todo from Art of Fighting? Hibiki from Last Blade II?), and balanced out the stellar cast nicely. The Marvel series has had revolving lineups all the way to its latest chapter, utilizing spritework from prior games over creating new faces (up to MvC3, which, as a polygonal game, had to redo everyone :p ). Despite the recycling, though, each game has been full of legends and obscurities on both sides, making each game a pleasure to explore. MvC2 tops all with 56 characters (which admittedly are not all true individual characters – two Wolverines, the nigh-identical Iron Man and War Machine, and the shoto bunch of Ryu/Ken/Dan/Akuma/Sakura [sort of, she does do some things differently]), but despite that, it’s still a lot of fun tangling with them all (shame the tiers have made that aspect a bit null, though). Tatsunoko may have a smaller lineup than the others, it manages to feel incredibly deep and complex, and the tricks that the Tatsunoko side bring into the gameplay are pleasantly different from Marvel’s heroes and villains. In short, I love the diversity!
Teamwork – Capcom Vs. fighters rely on team building, and piecing together fighters to form said teams is a gigantic part of the strategy. You need comrades that work together well, and even the tag-less Capcom Vs. SNK series requires some thought to having a group that can overcome others in case one man or woman gets K.O.’ed. I’m STILL debating my Tatsunoko team. XD
Playing with Friends – This aspect has diminished over the years as I rarely see my old fighter allies these days, but one reason Marvel Vs. Capcom 1/2 and Capcom Vs. SNK 2 mean so much to me is the memories of engaging my buddies to test out my skills and learn new ones. Maybe I’ll get fortunate and find them online for MvC3.
Fighting at its Finest – I won’t say that the gameplay is flawless or perfect in any of these, but after getting used to either the combo craziness of the Marvel/Tatsunoko lines or the technical grace of the SNK titles, something clicks and the experience becomes fascinating. I love these games and get so excited about sequels to them, and it’s because of both the fondness of the past and the great fun they provide me. It’s a major reason I consider Capcom as a premiere developer and as one of my favorites of all time, and they are games I look forward to coming back to as much as looking ahead.