Here’s a tip from your Uncle Paul: if you want to keep it secret that you’re re-releasing a classic game, don’t put up a teaser website that plays the game’s recognizable theme song. But then, maybe Capcom wasn’t trying to be that secretive about their plans to bring their classic 2000 arcade brawler Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 to the Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network this summer.
Still, it was a pleasant surprise when we got some hands-on time with the game at Capcom’s Captivate 09 press event in Monte Carlo last week.
For those who missed the game when it hit arcades in 2000, the Dreamcast or PlayStation 2 in 2002, or the Xbox in 2003, this is a cartoon-looking 2D brawler with a line-up that features some of Marvel’s best loved characters and Capcom’s own favorite sons and daughters. Which means you can pit Wolverine against Chun-Li or Iron Man against Mega Man. Or, for that matter, Wolverine against Iron Man or Chun-Li against Mega Man, if you like.
But the game also has a couple of odd character choices, most notably Iron Man’s pal War Machine, The X-Men’s Cable, and Mega Man’s Servbot. In total, the game boasts more than 50 playable characters, all of whom will be unlocked from the get-go.
Needless to say, all of the characters move as you’d expect them to, complete with such signature moves as Spider-man’s web attacks and Cammy’s sex-with-legs-ish spin move. But Marvel Vs. Capcom 2, both then and now, has some changes from earlier versions of this fighting series. Battles are 3-on-3, as opposed to 2-on-2, the game uses fewer buttons, which makes the combos (relatively speaking, of course) easier than in past games, and this installment in the series was also the first not to feature character-specific endings.
Like other classic games brought back to life recently, Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 is virtually identical to the classic game (the Dreamcast version, for those of you keeping score). We say “virtually” because this adds online multiplayer, courtesy of the same systems that powered the same modes in Street Fighter HD Remix. You’ll even be able to play six-player round robin tourneys, with you and three of your friends watching as two other people beat each other senseless.
Fans of the earlier games might also need a few moments to get adjusted to the controls. While all the button combos are the same as they were before, they’ve been reworked to fit the PS3’s and 360’s controllers. Though anyone who’d rather kick it old school can actually just play with the Street Fighter IV arcade stick controller they bought a few months ago, since it will work for this game as well.
Otherwise, everything in this fighting game is how you remember it, from the taut controls and the ’80s-style Marvel character designs to the vintage music and sound effects. Sure, it may be the Dreamcast edition of the game, but playing it will bring you back to those days of yore, when you spent every afternoon in your local arcade. Just don’t make your living room all dark and smoky without asking your spouse first.