After seeing the overwhelming success of both Street Fighter II Hyper Fighting and Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix, it was only a matter of time before Capcom decided to port more of their popular 2D fighting games to the Xbox Live Arcade. With so many classic fighting games to choose from, Capcom could have gone a number of directions. They could have given us an underrated classic like Street Fighter III, or perhaps tried to reboot a franchise like Darkstalkers, or even offered up something obscure like Red Earth. But instead they went with a fan favorite, none other than Marvel vs. Capcom 2.
Originally an arcade release, this nine year old game is best known for its stellar Dreamcast port. While it was also released on the Xbox and PlayStation 2, but versions were fairly rare and something of a disappointment for those of us looking for added content. This Xbox 360 port plays it safe, denying us any new characters or single-player game modes. What it does offer is an online mode that may just be worth the $15 asking price.
As the name suggests, Marvel vs. Capcom 2 is a 2D fighting game that pits some of your favorite comic book superheroes (and super villains) against some of the greatest video game characters of all time. This is more than just a game with Street Fighter and X-Men characters, it manages to pull in dozens of characters you would never have imagined fitting in a fighting game. There are a whopping 56 characters, a staggering amount for any fighting game, especially one from Capcom. While not every character is balanced, the sheer variety should attract just about anybody that is even remotely interested in fighting games.
Each side is predictably split into two sets of 28, which by itself is more than most modern fighting games (in contrast, SNK's recent The King of Fighters XII only has 22 playable characters). On the Marvel side you get some of the biggest comic book characters of all time, including Spider-Man, Wolverine, Captain America, Doctor Doom, the Incredible Hulk, Storm, Iron Man, Gambit and Magneto. You also get a good helping of comic book characters I'm only vaguely familiar with, such as Cable, Thanos and Shuma-Gorath.
As a fan of Capcom since the early 8-bit days, it's the Capcom side that makes my heart start palpitating in weird patterns. Yes, you get many of the classic Street Fighter characters, including Ryu, Ken, Chun Li, Cammy, M. Bison and so on. But what's exciting about this game is that you also get other classic characters, such as Jill from Resident Evil, Mega Man, Strider Hiryu, Servbot from Mega Man Legends, Captain Commando and Hayato from the little played Star Gladiator. There's also a nice selection of characters from the Darkstalkers games, which overwhelms this Morrigan fanboy with excitement.
I promised myself I wouldn't just spout out lists, but frankly with 56 characters it's easy to fall into that trap. Needless to say, there is a character for just about everyone, be it a Tron Bonne, Doctor Doom, or just plain old Dan. Any way you slice it; there are a lot of characters to take into this intense three-on-three battle royale.
In an interesting move (that doesn't feel as novel as it did nine years ago), Marvel vs. Capcom employs a three-on-three fighting style. This means that you select a three-person team, similar to how you play most of the classic King of Fighters games. However, unlike SNK's long-running series, Marvel vs. Capcom 2 allows you to cycle through characters on the fly, allowing you to not only give your fighters some much needed rest, but also create multi-character combos. It's an interesting style that can feel a little jarring at first; you can either tag out or simply bring one of your sideline characters in for a brief attack. What's more, you can also bring all three characters in for a massive special attack that literally fills up the entire screen.
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