Marvel vs. Capcom 2
2D insanity on a convenient silver disc - Review By Mad Carl
Fighting games long ago moved into the realm of 3D, and they've fared for themselves pretty well. Virtua Fighter, Tekken, Soul Edge, Dead or Alive -- they were all good games that have grown into great series. Even the venerable old granddaddy of fighting games, Street Fighter, has gone the 3D route once or twice. The benefits of 3D are numerous. Flashy lights and curvy models make for great eye-candy, and that's a big requirement for getting today's players to plunk down the quarters in arcades.
Why then, in this age of 3D, would someone want to make a 2D sprite-based fighter, especially on a platform as technologically robust as the Dreamcast? With Wacky Races and the recent Japanese release of Jet Set Radio, we've seen the Dreamcast do some beautiful toon-shaded graphics. Capcom could easily create a toon shaded game of their own and set to work making distinctive looking fighting games that would beat the low poly mini-skirts off those Dead or Alive girls. So why make a 2D fighter? Because when your name is Capcom, and you're as good at 2D fighters as they are, sometimes you just feel the need to outdo yourself.
As Apu Nahasapeemapetilon would say, by the many arms of Vishnu, where do I begin? It's hard not to gush about a game as well-built as Marvel vs. Capcom 2. In fact, I've had to force myself away from the game long enough to write my review, and I know that when I've finished here I'll be right back at it. Why? About every ten minutes I find something new, and that's saying a lot when you've been playing a game for three days. In fact, now that I think about it, that's saying one whole hell of a lot. Every time I sit down and play I unlock a new character. Then I use that character and suddenly realize I can unlock another and another and so on. Soon it's four o'clock in the morning and my eyes are bleeding from the intense light show that has been taking place on my television screen. MvC2 has replayability in spades.
The 3D backgrounds are quite beautiful at times.
You start the game with 24 characters, comprised of 12 Capcom fighters and 12 Marvel Super Heroes. From there you can work your way up to 56 playable characters in all. You don't simply unlock characters the way you do in other fighting games (beat the game with Character X to unlock Character Y, for example). Here you earn points while playing. These points are then spent at the "shop" to buy new characters. As I mentioned before, buying a new character is an incentive to start playing all over again. When I unlocked Roll from the Mega Man games, I became obsessed with using this tiny little girl to beat the living crap out of the Incredible Hulk. Then I realized I'd gotten enough points to unlock the best Street Fighter villain ever -- M. Bison. Next thing you know, I'm playing a Bison/Roll/Storm combo, thoroughly enjoying all of my newly-unlocked characters. And not only can you use these new characters, the CPU will use them in combat as well, making for a new climb up the ladder every time. Another cool side effect of unlocking characters comes in the opening animation. At first there is a row of standard fighters, followed by silhouettes of the locked characters. When you unlock new fighters their silhouettes fill in, showing you your accomplishments before the title screen even appears.
If you played the original Marvel vs. Capcom, you'll remember that your third character selection simply gave you some reinforcements in the form of a limited number of special attacks. This time around, you get a full-fledged battle partner. Team battles are epic struggles, as Capcom and Marvel really do clash head on. I've had Ryu, Doctor Doom and Mega Man battling Venom, Strider and Spider Man. The sensation of seeing all of these pop culture icons in one place smacking the living crap out of one another is truly amazing. As far as play goes, combining three completely different fighting styles can really throw off your opponent. Of course, picking three characters who are almost exactly alike can give you a seriously powerful edge as you don't have to remember a whole string of super moves or whose special attack does what.
All three of your characters can attack simultaneously, resulting in some major carnage.
Controls are simplistic, but that is a good thing. Gone are the medium powered attack buttons of Capcom's past. Now there are Light and Heavy punches and kicks with the 5th and 6th buttons on the controller being used to either switch fighters in battle, or activate super combos. Speaking of controllers, the game plays (predictably) better with an arcade stick than it does with the basic Dreamcast controller. However, unlike Street Fighter III: Double Impact, you can actually get pretty decent results out of the basic Dreamcast controller in MvC2. Even the analog stick is useable -- no mean feat. All in all, this is the first 2D fighting game I have encountered on the Dreamcast in which the basic controller was not a complete hindrance.
The animation is, of course, top notch. While not nearly as detailed as that seen in Street Fighter III, the characters do still feature a decent amount of animation. Just watching T. Bonne or Spider Man in action is a lot of fun. Every single character feels fluid and alive. In addition to the great 2D characters there is a fine set of 3D backgrounds that actually remind me quite a bit of another Capcom fighter, Power Stone. While the backgrounds are not interactive and game play still takes place firmly in the land of two dimensions, the 3D backgrounds really do make the game world feel more alive. They also have been responsible for more than one jaw dropping moment. The final battle of the game comes complete with backgrounds that morph from one fight to the next. While super powerful moves are being executed, the background drops away in favor of a light show that oftentimes drew my attention away from what was happening in the foreground. My favorite background is the one with a gigantic clock. Not only are the gears and a ringing bell finely detailed, but the clock keeps proper time by reading the Dreamcast's own internal clock. Neat.
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