2009 may well go down as the year fighting games fought back. In February Capcom unleashed Street Fighter IV, a game many have said has almost single-handedly rekindled long lost love for quarter circle forward motions inside the hearts of lapsed fighting game fans the world over. On its own, that would be enough.
There’s another fighting game many a fan played “back in the day”. A game that demands silly numbers on eBay. A game that, even if you’re not that good, can make you feel that you are. A game that, when all is said and done, some people, hush hush, reckon is the best of them all.
The game is Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes, released today on XBLA for 1200MS Points (it’ll be out on PSN August 13, priced at an expensive £11.99). Despite being first released in arcades, if you played the chaotic fighter “back in the day”, chances are you played it on the SEGA Dreamcast nine years ago. It was one of the most fun reasons to own SEGA’s ill-fated console – the spectacular, three-on-three tag fighting, spiralling combos and forgiving fighting system meant you didn’t have to be Daigo “The Beast” Umehara to make those lovely sprites dance. You just had to mash buttons. Quickly.
Now it’s back, it’s a digital download and it still kicks ass. Based on the Dreamcast version, the XBLA and PSN port includes everything from the original, including all 56 characters (all unlocked from the get-go), two new character graphics modes – crisp and smooth – widescreen support and, wait for it… online play.
This is the biggie. This is the reason to shell out the MS Points or the, er, real money, even if you’ve already got the game gathering dust in a closet somewhere. For the first time ever you’ll be able to pit your skills against other players around the world without having to lug your arcade stick over to some tournament somewhere miles away. Stuff like this, people, is what God made the internet for.
You might be thinking, er, what’s Marvel vs. Capcom 2 about? What happened to Marvel vs. Capcom 1? And how, exactly, am I going to adjust to this game given I’m only just starting to get to grips with Street Fighter IV? All valid questions. Here are the answers.
What’s Marvel vs. Capcom 2 about then? It’s perhaps the most popular game in Capcom’s VS series, a series that enjoyed the height of its popularity back in the late 90s. It’s a 2D fighting game with a humongous playable character roster made up of guys, girls and things from Capcom’s classic games and Marvel’s back catalogue of super heroes. So, on the Capcom side you’ve got Ryu and Chun-Li from Street Fighter, Jill Valentine from Resident Evil, Mega Man from Mega Man, and Anakaris and Felicia from Darkstalkers, among others.
On the Marvel side of things you’ve got various X-Men, including Wolverine (times two, one with bone claws, the other with adamantium claws) and Cyclops, Iron Man, Hulk, Magneto and Doctor Doom, among others. You pick three characters – when the life bar of one is up, you automatically switch to another. The player who reduces all three life bars of his or her opponent first wins. Simples, as Aleksandr from comparethemeerkat.com would put it.
Simples is apt, because the thing that made MvC2 popular when it was first released was its accessible fighting game system, and it’s just as accessible today. As in Street Fighter IV it uses six buttons, but only four do basic attacks - light punch, hard punch, light kick and hard kick. The remaining two buttons are used for “Assists” – one brings in one partner for a helpful single attack, the other does the same for your other partner.