After ten years of solid support and tournament play of Marvel vs Capcom 2, Capcom officially took notice and rewarded fans with what they call “a huge evolution in Versus gameplay”. Marvel vs Capcom 3 is definitely a fun game, but to me it feels more like they made Tatsunoko vs Capcom 2 and passed it off as the game we’ve been waiting to see for the better part of a decade.
Don’t get me wrong, I like MvC3, and TvC for that matter, but I can’t get past how the game feels like TvC more than it feels like MvC2. I keep seeing arguments about how it’s just like MvC2 on paper with its “broken tier” balance and over-the-top craziness going on from start to finish. That’s not what defined MvC2 to me, and it just as easily describes TvC as any other Versus game. From a higher level, it seems like Capcom pulled a similar move to what Nintendo did with Super Mario Bros 2. Nintendo saw a demand for more Mario games in North America, but they didn’t want to localize their existing sequel. So what did they do? They took an existing game and repurposed the engine and gameplay with all new skins and characters. Sounds kinda familiar.
The move shouldn’t have surprised me really, as the TvC engine was advertised by Seth Killian, Capcom Community Manager and hype machine, as the engine Capcom would use for Versus games going forward. Prior to the announcement of MvC3, Chris Svensson, VP of Strategic Planning, was quoted as saying, “Perhaps TvC is a test. If it sells well and demand is high, maybe we’ll see a sequel on Microsoft and Sony’s consoles. Or maybe, fingers crossed, it’ll add further weight to the case for Marvel vs. Capcom 3.” I think we kinda got both.
When MvC3 was first announced, I was so amazed and excited that I had forgotten this fact and expected what each new Versus game had delivered in the past: a bigger roster, a visual nightmare feast, and addicting yet unbalanced gameplay. TvC was intentionally developed as a less technical fighter than previous Versus entries, requiring less demanding execution and timing and creating a more approachable system for a broader Japanese appeal. It was touted as an “evolution” to attempt to allow lower level players to be on a nearly even level with much more skilled players. While this made sense for TvC, it surely wouldn’t apply to something as highly competitive as MvC2… or so I thought.
As the game was shown bit by bit and people began to get answers about the direction Capcom was taking, the consistent answer to whether it played like TvC was “absolutely not, not even close, it plays just like MvC2″. Further reports from play tests came in saying it felt slow, sluggish, and “a lot like TvC”, but Capcom remained firm on their stance that the two games don’t even resemble each other. Finally we started to get a good look at the finished product, and the impressions were that it was a modified TvC graphics engine, a modified TvC control scheme, and a roster size slightly larger than that of TvC. This is how you’d describe a sequel to TvC, not MvC2. It also doesn’t help that Ryu, Viewtiful Joe, Morrigan, Zero, and early on, Frank West were confessed to be assets borrowed (and improved upon) from TvC. Granted, “sprite” rips are part of what defined Versus games in the past, but in this case it further goes to my point.
Like I said, the game is not bad by any means, and years from now we’ll probably have a DLC bolstered roster and MvC2 will go the way of the former fighting game champions. Unfortunately, to me it’ll never feel like the evolutionary step each previous entry in the series was to its predecessor. It feels like, for the first time in the series they tossed true fan service aside and took the easy route to appease fan demand. All Capcom had to do was say that the game is a “spiritual successor” of the Versus series, not call it MvC3, and release TvC on XBLA and PSN six months prior to MvC3′s release. Then the principal of the issue wouldn’t bother me so much, and that way more people, including myself, would be used to the control scheme and graphical engine of the new Versus platform prior to seeing it in our beloved MvC2 sequel. At least the newly announced Street Fighter X Tekken running on the “Cross” Series engine (basically a modified Street Fighter IV engine) looks very promising as a tag-team fighter. I’m not entirely sure why the SFIV engine wasn’t used for the versus games, but that’s neither here nor there. Regardless, everyone should definitely go out and get MvC3 for its own merits, because Capcom just doesn’t make bad fighting games.
P.S. Marvel vs Capcom 3 would be a killer NGP launch title. Just sayin’…