Platform: XBLA (Also on PSN, PS3)
ESRB Rating: T
Developer: Backbone Entertainment
Review by: John Gustafson
Before the demise of the North American arcade community, Marvel vs. Capcom 2 was a soul-sucking, time-consuming, quarter-eating machine. Its legendary status in the fighting game community is well documented and its popularity is still strong, albeit less than it was nine years ago, as evidenced by the numerous tournaments held each year featuring the mash-up cast.
Marvel vs. Capcom 2 saw releases on the Dreamcast (the best port), PlayStation 2 and Xbox before this new release for the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade. Old fans and continued players will be happy to know that Backbone went to the Dreamcast port for this update, and the quality shines.
This new update features a high-definition widescreen layout, but the action on screen is confined to the original square field. New players may find this out of the ordinary at first, but when taking into account what the extra playing field would do to attacks and the game’s balance, it is best things remained the same. Far too much retooling and adjustments would have to be made, thus by sticking to the old “arena,” the game maintains its classic feel and play.
The HD coating is mostly for the background stages, creating stunning visuals. The fighters remain pixilated, but with a new coat of coloring. There are three filters for the animated sprites, called “smooth,” “crisp” and “classic.” Smooth blurs the image rather than making improvements, and classic maintains the sprites’ original look. Crisp evens the line-work of the sprites, making for the best filter.
Gameplay remains exactly the same, keeping the four-attack button layout with two assist buttons for the three-on-three competitions. Old attack patterns, combo memorizations and exploits will come pouring back to returning fans as will some of the old bugs. Before crying foul about the bugs, they have been in the game for such a long time that they are now simply considered part of the greater whole, and removing them would be like cutting out a major piece of the pie.
The big seller for this particular release is online matchmaking. Ranked and friendly matches are available with six-player lobby systems, and it is highly recommended new players spend as much time as possible in the lobby studying what separates beginners from experts.
What initially appears to be a button-mashing slugfest of epic proportions is far more than it seems. Timing assist attacks, hyper combos and snapbacks can lead to triple-digit combos with regularity and decimate the opposition once the game mechanics are mastered.
Marvel vs. Capcom 2 should be an automatic for fighting game enthusiasts, but Marvel and Comics fans would do well to check this game out as well. With a massive roster split between Capcom and Marvel characters, there is someone there for everyone. The game plays as tightly as it did nine years ago at the arcades and on Dreamcast, and can be had today without the inflated eBay and collector copy prices!
For more info, www.capcom.com