Crossovers, when done right lead to epic fan service going beyond anyone’s outrageous dreams. As a result, when Marvel and Capcom unexpectedly announced that their hottest properties would duke it out in X-men vs Street Fighter back in 1996 the possibilities became endless. The fact of the matter that the X-men would fight alongside of Ryu, Cammy, and Akuma was unimaginable! But after the lukewarm reception of Marvel Super Heroes vs Street Fighter, Capcom returned to the drawing boards moving onto the next logical step. Instead of limiting their options, Capcom decided to bring out the big guns. Offering more than expected, Capcom and Marvel brought together an innovating new roster of characters for one epic crossover, Marvel vs Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes.
Marvel vs Capcom, released on the CPS2 arcade board on January 23rd, 1998. The story loosely adapting from the Marvel Crossover The Onslaught Saga, fighters from both the Capcom and Marvel universe join forces to defeat Onslaught.
First, the controls are fantastic utilizing the previous 6-button control scheme typical of several Capcom fighting games. Next, several mechanics debuting in X-men vs Street Fighter including switching and dual hyper combos return as well. Additionally, considering the backlash received during MSH vs SF for removing several mechanics from the previous title (e.g. infinite combos) Capcom made the right choice by bringing them back. Notably, the assist mechanic returns finessed to have the player select from a variety of non-playable assist, including Unknown Soldier from Forgotten Worlds and Storm from the X-Men. There are 7 matches against computer that the player needs to finish before facing Onslaught.
Moving along, Marvel vs Capcom possibly introduces one of the greatest concepts for any crossover tag-team fighting game, variable cross. Basically, after the player has obtained 2 super bars, the player does a reverse quarter-circle then pressing both the heavy punch and kick button simultaneously. During this time, the player can control both their characters using this to their advantage, delivering heavy damage.
Personally, what makes an excellent fighting game is its cast of characters. Not to mention, the game could have the best presentation and mechanics, but if the fighters are uninspiring then it’s pointless. Several fighters returned from the previous entries, including Wolverine, Ryu, Chun-Li and Spiderman.
However, Capcom breaking free from the previously set limitations, featured characters beloved and obscured including Strider and Jin. However, on the Marvel side nearly everyone is a veteran of the series with the exception of War Machine and Venom. Ironically, War Machine is a sprite hack of Iron Man from Marvel Super Heroes with minor differences since the license resided with Acclaim Entertainment. Additionally, accessing hidden characters by inputting the right cheat code in the character selection screen is possible as in the previous entry.
Fundamentally, the graphics are the typical high quality 2D sprites with great animation that several CPS2 titles displayed. Additionally, despite recycling sprites from previous entries, they fit in well with the game’s aesthetic. Be that as it may, the sprites for the new entries are absolutely amazing! Additionally, the superb detail and attention placed towards each character makes them faithful to their source material, including Megaman and Strider’s death animation.
Furthermore, the backgrounds are fantastic having Easter eggs from both sides appearing throughout multiple stages. Notably, the Avengers HQ stage using scans from the actual comics! Additionally, the Megaman and Strider stage are equally as gorgeous.
The music composed by Yuko Takehara and Masato Kouda is possibly the best soundtrack of the entire franchise. Starting from the attract mode song, it gets you amped to play the game! The new tracks stand out, especially the Variable Cross, Credits, themes for Strider, Venom, War Machine, and Jin are standouts. The remixes of veteran characters are undoubtedly the best in the series, especially for Hulk and Spiderman doing justice to their respective character. It’s the great music production Capcom maintained during this time which aged well. The influence of Drum & Bass in certain tracks is an additional plus as well.
Overall, Marvel vs Capcom has stood the test of time and remarked as a timeless classic. As a result, Capcom produced 3 sequels throughout the years.
Marvel vs Capcom continues to dominate in smaller fighting game tournaments and fightcade with countless videos all over the internet. It’s the game that introduced me into the world of Marvel, Capcom and fighting games over 13 years ago.
On another note, Marvel vs Capcom appears in several different platforms throughout the years. Shortly after the arcade version debuted, Capcom ported it over to the Dreamcast early in the system’s lifespan in 1999 in all regions. This is arcade perfect with several incredible features including training mode, versus mode, survival mode and Cross Fever. Essentially, Cross Fever an ingenious mode that goes beyond anyone’s expectation, where 4 players can play simultaneously in possibly one of the greatest party games. Finally, the port is capable of being able to natively do 240p and 480p with the right connections making this one the definitive home version of the game.
Nevertheless, the slight inconsistencies may bother purist including the slightly arranged tracks in MIDI that are reminiscent of Capcom’s Sega Saturn ports. Additionally, the game only supports the Dreamcast’s D-pad which is not the most comfortable D-Pad in console history.
A PlayStation port appeared a few months later. Unfortunately, due to the Playstation’s limited RAM space several features and frames of animation were cut. Additionally, the port is now a 1 v 1 fighter with the option of choosing another fighter or special character as their assist character. Furthermore, replacing the Cross Fever is the Cross Over mode. Essentially, it’s a unique mode where tag team battles can occur, but the player only goes against the characters they choose. This version also included an art gallery mode where players can unlock concept art and ending animations.
Conclusively, an emulated version alongside Marvel Super Heroes appeared in the Marvel vs Capcom Origins collection for XBLA and PSN in 2012. This is not a port rather an emulated version that features online versus mode, training mode, challenge mode and visual settings to mimic the original arcade experience. Sadly, when Capcom’s contract with Marvel expired in 2013 the game was deleted from both servers.
The legacy Marvel vs Capcom left behind is legendary. Released in the beginning of the crossover fever, it was the logical step for both companies to take. In truth, crossovers occurred prior to Marvel vs Capcom. Nonetheless, they were first party crossovers (SNK’s King of Fighters), single guest character (Gon in Tekken 3) and one company owning several different licenses (Jump Manga games). As a result, Marvel vs Capcom shook the world as being the 1st of its kind, where two different companies agreed to duke it out.
As previously mentioned, Marvel vs Capcom maintains its presence in smaller local and national tournaments across the globe. Footage for such tournaments are all over YouTube and quite frankly, it varies from mildly interesting to most outrageous matches. For one thing, the game’s last presence in a major fighting game tournament was EVO 2012 possibly to advertise the Marvel vs Capcom Origins Collection. Also, the game presence in the fightcade where dozens of people all over compete against each other online with random encounters players like Maximilian and Justin Wong.
Consequently, the game sparked interest in the obscure characters added to their side of the roster, including Strider and Jin. For this reason, it was their appearance here that lead to western fans to gain interest in playing their original games (Cyberbots and Strider). Notably, it was the overwhelmingly favorable feedback on Strider leading Capcom to produce an official sequel basing his character design from this game.
Furthermore, the favorable reception of this game inspired Capcom to pursue crossovers with other companies including their main competitor SNK, Japanese animation company Tatsunoko and Namco. Though, a few titles bear similarities to the Marvel vs Capcom series, others attempt to present elements from both sides of the spectrum (e.g.: Capcom vs SNK Series). On another note, it took Marvel’s rival, DC a decade to appear in a crossover fighting game alongside Midway’s Mortal Kombat.
On another note, there were several more games produced in the series, including Marvel vs Capcom 2, Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 and a slight reboot Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite. Sadly, despite the success of the past 3 titles it seems that Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite has lost the passion that the previous entries invoked. The gameplay is there, but sadly since Marvel decided to appeal to their casual audiences removed any X-men and Fantastic Four characters in the latest title. Shame on Marvel, but with Disney’s recent acquisition of 20th Century Fox, the situation can turn out different.
In the long run, Marvel vs Capcom is a timeless fighting game classic. Notably, games like Skullgirls, Killer Instinct (2013) and Dragon Ball FighterZ take inspiration from Marvel vs Capcom. Uniquely, it presented others that sometimes going beyond your wildest expectation can occur. Again, Marvel vs. Capcom today is among one of the best 2D fighting games produce and listed as one of the top CPS2 and Dreamcast titles. Consequently, impressing audiences left and right for the outrageous gameplay, leaving its mark in fighting game history.