Tag Archives: Fighting games

2 Worlds Collide: Marvel vs. Capcom 20th Retrospective

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.

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Morrigan using her Assist Character (Unknown Soldier) against Strider

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.

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The cast of Marvel vs Capcom

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.

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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.

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The back cover to the US Dreamcast version, it incorrectly features a still from X-men vs Street Fighter

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.

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Strider’s appearance here lead to a true sequel for the original arcade classic

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.

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Several sequels have been produced including Marvel vs Capcom 2 which often highly regarded in the community.

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.

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Skullgirls is one the few games that is heavily inspired by the mechanics of Marvel vs. Capcom
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Fatal Fury 25th Anniversary Review

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The lone wolf, Terry Bogard

HEY C’MON! C’MON!

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Street Fighter II, but also another franchise serving as a spiritual sequel and  former rival to Street Fighter, SNK’s Fatal Fury. Developing during the same time as Street Fighter II by former Capcom employees, Takashi Nishiyama and Hiroshi Matsumoto, who produced and directed the original Street Fighter back in 1987.

The Fatal Fury series was one of SNK’s biggest franchise on the Neo Geo which starred the Bogard brothers, Terry and Andy with their friend Joe Higashi on their quest for revenge against Geese Howard, responsible for the death of their adopted father a decade prior. The trio fights their way through the King of Fighters tournament against many opponents, including Duck King, Raiden, Tung Fu Rae, and Billy Kane (a tournament and cast of characters later appearing in SNK’s biggest IP).

 

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The USA flyer

Important to realize that releasing this after Street Fighter II it was not well-received. With this in mind, it was attack for being an inferior clone of SF II. When in fact, Fatal Fury is the spiritual successor to Street Fighter incorporating ideas cut from Street Fighter to Fatal Fury. While Street Fighter II, empathized a faster-pace and combo-based fighting system, Fatal Fury was more about timing of special moves.

For instance, one of Fatal Fury’s  strengths relies in the storytelling. While SF II did not connect the events of the original. Fatal Fury’s storytelling made players empathized with Terry and Andy’s quest for revenge and connecting audiences to the world of Fatal Fury by releasing a variety of media providing back stories and other details surrounding the game’s lore. By the same token, using cut scenes in-between matches helps narrate the plot.

Furthermore, the game utilizing extensive use of the Neo Geo, the game incorporated lane switching to attract customers. Regardless, the issues stem from crudely implementing this feature. Finally, the game emphasizes playing cooperatively with a friend instead of fighting them one-on-one something Street Fighter would not  return to until the Street Fighter Alpha series.

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Fatal Fury encouraged 2 player co-op rather than fighting against them

Whereas graphically, the game still holds up well, it’s no Real Bout Special nor Garou but the graphics are average for a 1991 Neo Geo game.Offering a variety of colors, making the game seem lively.

As a matter of fact, refining the controls than the spiritual prequel. The specials are simple to perform yet, improve in future titles.Requiring accurate timing to perform these.

However, the music is a clear victor! As a matter of fact, SNK is noted for fantastic music in their games. Lead composer Toshikazu Tanaka, the man responsible for several tracks mentions, “the game has an impact that sets it apart from other games, creating sounds that will stick in the player’s memory. So with Fatal Fury, I wasn’t aiming merely to surpass Street Fighter II, making sure the quality was a step or two above the competition.” For instance,  “Geese ni Kissu/ A Kiss for Geese”, used when fighting the boss Geese Howard is embedded in the SNK lore, rearranging and covering it in future titles Geese Howard appears in.

Of course, Street Fighter II raises the bar for fighting games and improving from the prequel. Hence, giving people the opportunity to show off one’s skill in the game with fast gameplay and a memorable cast of fighters.

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Street Fighter II got more attention since it came out first and created a new formula from its predecessor.

A point often overlooked, Fatal Fury is the forgotten step-brother to Street Fighter. Additionally, several elements of each game parallel one another. For instance, Terry and Andy Bogard are improvements of Ryu and Ken. In a general sense, Terry is more fleshed out version of Ryu, whom felt dry with his goal to become a skilled fighter. On the other hand, Terry is just a man who wanted revenge on his adopted father’s killer yet, has a human side that Ryu lacks. As an illustration, Terry is able to bring hope to the people of Southtown, making new friends and rivals, and eventually, a father figure. 

Notably, Andy is a detailed Ken Masters. For instance, Andy sees his older brother as his rival and desires to become the stronger of the two. Later on, gaining his own student. To clarify, Andy does not play like a copy of Terry, gaining his own fighting style. Thus, proving his own against the Main character syndrome.

In short, Fatal Fury is still worth a play through. The game not only improves from the original Street Fighter but adds content that shoves the former aside. While Capcom released minor revisions of SF II, SNK would create true sequels that not improved the original, but also changed the formula keeping it relevant in the competitive fighting game market of the 90s. At the same time, SNK paid tribute to the game that started their rise in the industry as Terry returns in King of Fighters XIV featuring an homage to original attire.

 Requiring a strong tolerance for early 90’s fighters, but in the end coming with a great reward.

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Terry returns to the ring in KOF XIV featuring his original attire from Fatal Fury.

Sources:

http://www.1up.com/features/the-man-who-created-street-fighter

http://www.vgmonline.net/toshikazutanakainterview/precisely